Hello and welcome to Friday, April 15, 2022. Today is a rare and precious day in your life! How are you walking it?
When I first started thinking about going on a long walk, years before I even knew about the Camino de Santiago, I perceived it as something as “out there” in the future. I often thought to myself, “one of these days I’m going to do it – just pack a bag and start walking.”
Five months ago, when I bought my airline tickets to Barcelona, Spain and started training my body, and mind, for the 800 km Way of Saint James historical pilgrimage, it didn’t take me long for me to realize that I’ve always been walking the Camino. It’s not something out there, it’s right here, right now.
As I hiked the picturesque nature trails through the Finley and Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuges, as I trekked mile after mile on the hilly roads winding through the McDonald Dunn Research Forest, as my feet pounded asphalt adjacent to a multitude of Willamette Valley roads and highways, I would catch myself wondering what it was going to be like walking through Spain. It was here, on one of these preparatory adventures that it came to me; it really doesn’t matter where my shoes are. I realized that what matters most is the quality of the person filling my shoes.
After stumbling across this ah-ha bump in the road, I had to ask myself if this is indeed true, “why am I even going to Spain?” Why am I investing all this time and money and adding unnecessarily to climate change through my travels? Why do we seek adventure and challenge ourselves? Honestly, I don’t know. But my history would suggest that we can gain wisdom about who we are as a person in these yet unexplored journeys. I firmly believe that when we live in our habitual boxes our growth as a spiritual being is limited. If we want to be someone that we’ve never been, we must do things that we’ve never done.
I think that this is the big lesson that I’ve learned through my mindfulness practice.
Approximately ten years ago, I was challenged to do things I’ve never done before. The things that I did are the very same practical tools and skills that I shared with you over these last few weeks. Before I entered a Mindfulness practice, I’d never intentionally taken the time to learn to relax, I never meditated, considered my motivations, contemplated the importance of death, inventoried my values and emotions, and I certainly never chanted any mantras. Though I believed that I understood the benefits of a Mindfulness practice, I was mistaken.
We can read about the advantages of having a Mindfulness practice, but without the practice we can’t truly understand the impact that it will have upon us. We can likewise read and learn all about surfing, but without actually surfing, we can’t possibly understand the experience. We have no reference.
I say the following with absolute certainty: My preconceived idea of who I thought I would be after engaging in a Mindfulness practice profoundly underestimated the person I have become. The benefits have far exceeded my imagination.
Rather than writing another extensive list of all the ways that Mindfulness has helped me to create a better version of myself, I invite you to join me on this Mindful path and to engage in a practice and find out for yourself. Together, let’s fill our shoes with better versions of ourselves. You may be surprised where they take you!
I used to just talk about ambitious adventures. Now, thanks to Mindfulness, I find myself living one. My journey is taking me to Spain. I leave on April 21st. Having the rare and precious opportunity to engage in this meaningful journey requires me to let go of other meaningful opportunities. In addition to my dearest love, family, friends, and all the habitual routines and comforts of home, I must, at least temporarily, also let go of writing my Weekly Mindfulness Support. I’ve been writing these for three years now and they have become an important part of my own personal growth and practice. Nevertheless, this too is part of the journey.
Regardless of how long we’ve known each other, you are an integral part of my journey. Just as it is said along the path of the Way of St. James, I say to you, ¡Buen Camino! – Good Journey!
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
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