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The 3 Phases of a Camino. Your Thoughts? Are there More?

Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Year of past OR future Camino
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
Hi Robo,

Thank you for sharing this video. And yes, I do recognize it. It was very much like that when my wife and I started our Camino in Holland (walking from Holland through Belgium and France to continue on the Frances). Each holiday spent on this hike for a couple of years, walking three weeks in a row each time.

It did get easier every time we started out on a next stage. But I went through it again when I walked the last piece (from StJPdP to Santiago) in one stretch.

I don’t know the pilgrim’s name, but I came accross this elderly pelgrim from Norway (a very wise collection of people, those Norwegians). He also told me about three stages of a Camino. Although they’re a bit different from the three you described:
  • The first stage: your old life. In this stage you’re still concerned with who you normally are, your loved ones back home, the things you’re accustomed to, the way you’re used to do things, and so on. On the Frances: the part from StJPdP to Burgos.
  • The second stage: you die. Gradually you’re letting go of what you’re used to, the way you used to do things, the way you used to behave (patterns), the way you used to look at things or used to think about things. On the Frances: walking the Mesetas, from Burgos to Leon.
  • The third stage: your new life. Discovering new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking, and so on. And slowly but surely incorporating them in your (new) life. On the Frances: walking from Leon, past Cruz de Ferro to Santiago.
Both ways of going through 3 stages applied to me. After having walked my first Camino, I never became the same again. Or, in other words: I’ve never ‘recovered‘ from that first Camino. And boy, am I glad I never did!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Hi Robo,

Thank you for sharing this video. And yes, I do recognize it. It was very much like that when my wife and I started our Camino in Holland (walking from Holland through Belgium and France to continue on the Frances). Each holiday spent on this hike for a couple of years, walking three weeks in a row each time.

It did get easier every time we started out on a next stage. But I went through it again when I walked the last piece (from StJPdP to Santiago) in one stretch.

I don’t know the pilgrim’s name, but I came accross this elderly pelgrim from Norway (a very wise collection of people, those Norwegians). He also told me about three stages of a Camino. Although they’re a bit different from the three you described:
  • The first stage: your old life. In this stage you’re still concerned with who you normally are, your loved ones back home, the things you’re accustomed to, the way you’re used to do things, and so on. On the Frances: the part from StJPdP to Burgos.
  • The second stage: you die. Gradually you’re letting go of what you’re used to, the way you used to do things, the way you used to behave (patterns), the way you used to look at things or used to think about things. On the Frances: walking the Mesetas, from Burgos to Leon.
  • The third stage: your new life. Discovering new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking, and so on. And slowly but surely incorporating them in your (new) life. On the Frances: walking from Leon, past Cruz de Ferro to Santiago.
Both ways of going through 3 stages applied to me. After having walked my first Camino, I never became the same again. Or, in other words: I’ve never ‘recovered‘ from that first Camino. And boy, am I glad I never did!

I like those stages. Makes so much sense :)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Stage 4: camino thoughts overtake most of one's waking life in the everyday world post-camino.

I am unsure if this is healthy and sustaining, or a means of avoiding reality -- especially now.

I agree, not sure if a good thing or not, but it happens....
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
One thing I've noticed is that a lot of these "three stages" ruminations are very specifically tied to the Camino Frances from SJPdP and the length and geography of that route. I wonder if people walking different routes, through different types of geography, experience stages differently.

For example, we typically hear of the first stage lasting for the first ten days to two weeks, through varied landscapes, and involving physical toughening and acculturation to the Camino. Then we hear of the long monotony of the next ten days or so through the meseta posing mental challenges. Finally, we leave the broad, flat meseta for the lush, green Galicia and achieve our spiritual awakening.

But what if we are walking from Le Puy? Do we achieve physical conditioning and acculturation within the same ten days? After that, without the flat sameness of the meseta, do we face the same mental challenges? Are the mental challenges delayed or lessened or stretched or replaced by something else? What is our second stage like there? Do we still get to our spiritual stage after three weeks or so and just coast for the next seven?

Or, for someone walking the Ingles, do they never get past the physical and face any mental challenges or spiritual growth? I have my doubts about that.

It would be interesting to compare the interior profiles of the different routes.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
One thing I've noticed is that a lot of these "three stages" ruminations are very specifically tied to the Camino Frances from SJPdP and the length and geography of that route. I wonder if people walking different routes, through different types of geography, experience stages differently.

For example, we typically hear of the first stage lasting for the first ten days to two weeks, through varied landscapes, and involving physical toughening and acculturation to the Camino. Then we hear of the long monotony of the next ten days or so through the meseta posing mental challenges. Finally, we leave the broad, flat meseta for the lush, green Galicia and achieve our spiritual awakening.

But what if we are walking from Le Puy? Do we achieve physical conditioning and acculturation within the same ten days? After that, without the flat sameness of the meseta, do we face the same mental challenges? Are the mental challenges delayed or lessened or stretched or replaced by something else? What is our second stage like there? Do we still get to our spiritual stage after three weeks or so and just coast for the next seven?

Or, for someone walking the Ingles, do they never get past the physical and face any mental challenges or spiritual growth? I have my doubts about that.

It would be interesting to compare the interior profiles of the different routes.
I have walked Le Puy and the Norte, and Portuguese as well as the CF. Le Puy and Norte were physical conditioning for me the first 10 days or so especially because were I live is very flat and there are one or two hills on both those caminos. Just here and there of course ;) .
But outside of that since my first camino that body, mind and spirit adage doesn't really apply. I tried to walk without intention or mindfulness. The intentions in my life and the mindfulness of thought is what got me on the Camino in the first place. Walking on Camino has taught me that thinking never gets me anywhere. I have found I have reflected and thought my whole life and it has been long overdue getting rid of all the thoughts in my head, all the reflection. It was time to walk and empty out. Sometimes I go hours and even days without remembering much at all but I can tell you I sure feel at peace. For many or maybe most the idea of walking and talking with other pilgrims and looking forward to deep meaningful connections with others is a great appeal and I can see why. I have experienced that myself. My last 2 caminos have been the Norte and the CF both in November/December. I was actually surprised at how many pilgrims there were on the CF. Compared to the high season a drop in the bucket but more than expected. The Norte got quieter and quieter as I walked west. After the split with the Primitivo I was virtually alone until we connected a few day out of Santiago with the Frances. It was wonderful to be in silence on the Norte. Even many nights alone in albergues. The pilgrims I did meet were wonderful and our conversations were lighter and warm and caring. I really look forward to walking the VDLP in late October this year if it is possible. I have less ponderous thoughts, still some very intense ones of course, but I walk more and more with a calmness. I still have trouble keeping that calmness when I return home. But it sure is wonderful. Also things just happen and not because of a stage of my spiritual/mental camino, or because of the sights/terrain/people around me. They just occur. Does all this make sense???
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2017); Camino a Muxia (2017)
Having lived overseas on a number of occasions I'm familiar with the notion of culture shock, which could also apply to the Camino. Normally there are 4 stages identified in culture shock, but I think there are 5, and this new, last stage could definitely apply to the Camino.

Stage 1 - the Honeymoon Stage in which we are overwhelmingly positive toward the whole new and upcoming experience. Everything is fresh and exciting.

Stage 2 - the Frustration Stage in which as the newness begins to wear off and the difficulties of the new reality begin to appear. This could include the physical pain of blisters and sore knees, getting enough sleep in albergues seemingly filled with snoring pilgrims, and navigating the route, among other challenges.

Stage 3 - the Adjustment Stage in which we begin to get into our routines and develop a flow to our days that works for us. Navigating becomes easier, communication with our mutually supporting Camino family put us into a better frame of mind and help to free us for richer experiences and a free mind to explore questions we brought with us on this journey.

Stage 4 - the Acceptance Stage in which we are familiar enough with the Camino to accept even that which we may not understand. We are okay with difference without having an understanding of why that difference exists. It just does and that's okay. This is not better than that, the two are just different and not to be fretted over. We are comfortable with ourselves in this new environment, whether that environment is external or internal.

And an additional Stage 5 - Reverse Shock occurs when we return to our homes and we find not so much a newness to it, but in ourselves and having to readjust to this new situation without the benefit of a honeymoon stage. Upon arrival home we experience once again frustration, adjustment, and, perhaps, acceptance. Or, like me, not finding total acceptance, but rather a need to be reinvigorated by another Camino.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
I have walked Le Puy and the Norte, and Portuguese as well as the CF. Le Puy and Norte were physical conditioning for me the first 10 days or so especially because were I live is very flat and there are one or two hills on both those caminos. Just here and there of course ;) .
But outside of that since my first camino that body, mind and spirit adage doesn't really apply. I tried to walk without intention or mindfulness. The intentions in my life and the mindfulness of thought is what got me on the Camino in the first place. Walking on Camino has taught me that thinking never gets me anywhere. I have found I have reflected and thought my whole life and it has been long overdue getting rid of all the thoughts in my head, all the reflection. It was time to walk and empty out. Sometimes I go hours and even days without remembering much at all but I can tell you I sure feel at peace. For many or maybe most the idea of walking and talking with other pilgrims and looking forward to deep meaningful connections with others is a great appeal and I can see why. I have experienced that myself. My last 2 caminos have been the Norte and the CF both in November/December. I was actually surprised at how many pilgrims there were on the CF. Compared to the high season a drop in the bucket but more than expected. The Norte got quieter and quieter as I walked west. After the split with the Primitivo I was virtually alone until we connected a few day out of Santiago with the Frances. It was wonderful to be in silence on the Norte. Even many nights alone in albergues. The pilgrims I did meet were wonderful and our conversations were lighter and warm and caring. I really look forward to walking the VDLP in late October this year if it is possible. I have less ponderous thoughts, still some very intense ones of course, but I walk more and more with a calmness. I still have trouble keeping that calmness when I return home. But it sure is wonderful. Also things just happen and not because of a stage of my spiritual/mental camino, or because of the sights/terrain/people around me. They just occur. Does all this make sense???
You talk about emptying the mind. I had much the same experience on the meseta. I know many people talk about the meseta as a time of great mental challenge, of when their inner demons and their past confront them. Not so for me. I was living in the present and letting it wash through me, empty of mind.

I've often thought it somewhat self contradictory that meditation is associated both with emptying the kind and with being mind-full. I know for me, when I was walking the meseta, I wasn't so much in my mind as in the walking.
 
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Rent a house in Santiago (1 month minimum)
300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Reminds me of a team performance model:
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman described how teams move through stages known as forming, storming, norming, and performing, and adjourning (or mourning)
Although, in our case the team is just ourselves.
Looking forward to how meet the challenges of each internal stage.
 

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