While taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago, I had the opportunity to deal with some inner pain that had accumulated throughout my life. This included my fathers death, my own battles with alcohol, and a dysfunctional relationship with my then current girlfriend. Walking on this path challenged many of my comfort zones and I realized that I could survive them all. If gave me inner courage to do the same with unprocessed pain.
Even though change is inevitable throughout life, it is usually uncomfortable and often a point of resistance. Like sleeping in a room with snoring strangers, it pushes us out of safety and comfort which is the area where stored pain can be stimulated and released. The alternative is to reside in a cocoon of comfort and build walls around a bruised soul. It is similar to wrapping perforated tin foil around the heart and pretending that everything is just fine. Each layer of foil is just another plank in the dam. Why deal with it when avoidance is so simple?
Physical pain, like a broken bone heals and goes back to normal. Psyche problems may hibernate, but can be easily inflamed with the slightest bump. If you fear rejection, you are likely to build a life around avoiding situations that smack that emotion. You can swim in the pool of acceptance, but the fear never leaves. It is like living on the thinnest of ice.
On the other side of every dark cloud is pure blue sky. The best way to make the leap is to realize that the thunderous cloud is really just your mind’s attempt to manipulate life to buffer your heart. Remove the obnoxious noise and chatter from your head and face the actual fear. Instead of adding silt to the dam, relax and release. Expose the issue to the sun, let it go, and realize that it cannot hurt you.
The best way to sleep well on the Camino is to accept that people will snore. Accept that there will be unwanted noises throughout the night. Accept that movement in a bunk bed is a shared experience. Then replace fear of insomnia with gratitude for a mattress.
Every experience, including moments of jealousy or insecurity are just experiences that will pass. Feel it, experience it, and let it go. Do not close and store more water. Always remember that until death, we survive everything. Relax, accept things that happen, and keep flowing.
Unlimited joy, happiness, and love are all on the other side of the dam. Break the wall and bask in that ocean.
A friend on mine is involved with a movie about a man with stage 4 cancer. He wants to walk the Camino, but a trip is not possible with his treatment. He is doing the trail in his backyard and pretends to be in Spain. Click Phil’s Camino for more info.