Camino called life

July 11, 2013



If what you learn liberates you and others as well, if it fulfills your mind and soul, if it leads to understanding and acceptance, you don’t need any external validation or recognition because you found what you needed and those in need will follow your pattern until they find it for themselves

It was the beginning of what some may call the awakening but which I simply call remembering, therapy – attendance which requires presence and creation. In April 2013, I decided to walk St.James’s Way. I always loved walking and nature but of course walking alone through the unknown terrain for over five weeks and almost 900 km is a bit different story.

I knew before leaving that to be able to get what it offers I need to be open to whatever comes and flexible enough to deal with it. And I hoped for healing. I went there heart broken and estranged from society that no longer served my needs and values. I felt separation very present in my life and I could sense it in people around me as well. I turned away from my roots, closed myself, blunted my senses and inner voice to fit in the norms and conformity that promised the sense of belonging somewhere. And this way I learned that to get healed I had to take a leap of faith and believe in nature’s (and so people’s) ability to provide you with everything you need and when you need it. Though not necessarily what you want.

I started El Camino in Pamplona and finished it in Finisterre five weeks later. From the very beginning the country and nature reflected the state of my mind. Hilly and uneven at the beginning when I was still struggling with leaving the world I knew behind; flat and endless when I needed to internalize and embody new principles and surprisingly magical when I was ready to discover new worlds. Still at the beginning, someone told me that to walk the whole Camino is to walk through the three stages of an inner evolution – the stage of mind, heart and soul at last.

Recalling all I have learned, I also believe one really needs to walk that far and for so long, to experience happiness, joy along with pain and hardships; to realize that it all is a part of one. Without any of that, the picture can’t be whole and we will always miss something in it. It is all there, all part of everything, unattainable and inevitable at the same time. Everything you are given, you leave behind. Everything you love, you walk away from. Everything you need, there, but without the chance to store and pile for future. And it is right that way for how can you tell whether what you have stored will be still of any use in future?

The connection with nature, with our natural self, was present from the very beginning. At the beginning it was more about the physical abilities and such were my main concerns. My busy mind was figuring out how much water I need to drink to avoid injuries, what kind of vitamins I need and where to get them easily. These were my first primary thoughts; the thoughts concerning me being in the nature and getting out of there with the least harm possible.

Going back to the parallel with the evolution stages, it was all about mind and mind is rational, not emotional. Moreover, we live in the world where getting unharmed from the ‘wilderness’ is our major goal; getting back to safety of our organized and predictable worlds.

Not knowing too much but having a clue of what was coming next, I told my friend one day: ” today we are walking the Camino but soon we will be living the Camino”. Today, back in my flat, I refer to it as a ‘Camino called life’. Irony is that blisters and pain are inevitable and soon we all struggled with it. However, as your mind calms down and accepts what is and what comes, your thoughts shift from concerns about future to pleasures and blessings of today. Pain indeed is a teacher. It turns away from what I have to do and how I have to do it to I am doing it now. Walking itself became a sort of ritual. Waking up early in the morning to pack those few things you carried to hit the road for the unknown destination. The greatest change I observed on myself was natural acquisition of mindfulness. In the middle of the journey you are far more focused on what is and the final destination is nothing but a thought blurred in the haze. On the road that spreads straight for 20 kilometers, in the blaze of midday heat, your mind is nailed to your feet and your feet penetrate the ground. You are becoming a living part of it all, not trying to escape or ‘survive’. When there is nothing to rationalize, you free your heart. That’s when I got a gift, a glimpse of what love is.

Love not as a simple emotion but the love that builds and creates the worlds and us, each one of us individually and all together. I believe that we have been given an amazing power, the power to create when we are in alignment with the laws of nature. I don’t claim to know them, I think I noticed some but just being in nature and with nature for long enough you absorb them unconsciously. Isn’t that the greatest thing ever? Being here, being open and aware, without judgements or statements on the state of the things, willing to learn what love is and accepting love first, to give it next.

For decades we were talking about the harmony in the nature, the circle of all things but where were we in that all? Where were you in that circle and where could you dig in for the harmony within yourself? For decades, many of us, me including, stopped in the stage of mind, analyzing and rationalizing, leaving the heart behind, not for the lack of understanding but for the lack of acceptance and love within.

I love and treasure all parts of my Camino yet the third stage gave it all its meaning. And as I wrote in the beginning, every part is important but only together they form what is whole and complete in the meaning and experience.

I walked through rainy Galicia for over a week. I couldn’t walk in my shoes for the last 150 kilometers – so painful. I left most of my friends behind. Yet what I remember most is the lush green, the green I have never seen before, the comfort I felt in the forests, the companions who were there when I needed them without me having to plan it, the softness of the forest path and the relief it offered to my aching feet, the rain on my face, on the palms of my friend, the rain that you no longer try to hide from

And your imagination and creation run wild, liberate your soul and never leave from what is in your sight. And only then you become a creator you are meant to be.



One Response to “Camino called life”

  1. Daniel said:

    Thanks for sharing you experience, Vladka. Your camino experience is so similar and yet different from mine, and I think that’s the beauty of it; each individual on the camino shares so much in common, yet we are all there for our own reasons and we will inevitably each have our own unique experiences. You explained yours very well, but I won’t pretend that I know what it was like because I don’t, and we all have something that we will cherish on our own. It sounds like you’ve figured at least some things out. I hope that your post camino life has been good so far!

    Your friend from Canada

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