A 500 mile walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France in the French Pyrenees, across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, the destination for Pilgrims on all routes of El Camino. Then if you are an ocean person like myself, to walk another 50 miles to The Atlantic Ocean at Finisterre, Spain. This Journey is also known as The Way...
First, make the decision, which I did in October 2015. Try it on… Be with how it feels in the body, in the mind, in the Heart… In the Spirit. How did it feel to me? I can only say it felt to be exactly the correct choice. Once I decided, there was no hesitation.
Then? How do you prepare the body?
Walk, walk everywhere you go, then walk some more. For me walking was already a regular part of my life. Especially in the prior year as I danced through ‘The Interim Time’, facing my Shadows, fears, Ghost Paths and pain… Walking became a powerful meditation in integration. It is one of the reasons, taking a long walk called to me.
To begin with, I simply continued my regular routine: Walking 5-6 miles 4-5 times per week. After the first of the year I went to my second hOMe on the Hawaiian Island of Kaua’i for 5 weeks. There I increased my walks to daily and did 5-12 miles a day. For one week, I walked 17 miles a day.
Was this all ‘training’? I called it that yet perhaps the better word would be ‘listening’. I listened to my body. What did I hear? A deeper understanding of how to walk in a way that supported my physiology. How to carry myself. How to walk while holding my core which is necessary while carrying a pack (and helpful even without).
The other thing I listened to was: How did it feel? Or also questioned, did I like it?
I felt myself get stronger, more present in my body. I came to know my vulnerable areas (low back) in a new way. Of how to find the strength in vulnerability. On Kauai, I was walking with sunrise, getting up in the dark. Many mornings it was tempting to lounge in bed yet as soon as I began walking, I could hear my body puuurrring. Did I like it? Absolutely!
I returned to Portland for 5 weeks and my miles decreased. Life and tending the details filled up my time. I ‘lost’ some of the strength and conditioning which concerned me a bit yet when I once again listened… I know walking The Way is not a race. I will be walking 7 weeks, the strength and conditioning will return! I have confidence in 2 very important things: I know my body is capable of doing this. And I know better how to listen to what it tells me.
Here is one key to realizing the above. While some of the time I walked with friends while preparing for El Camino, most of the time I walked alone. In the silence of ‘alone’ I could more clearly hear the voice of my body.
And most importantly… My physiology informed me that: I love the cadence and rhythm of walking everyday. I feel deeply drawn to walking as a physical expression of a Spiritual path.
Walk The French Way of El Camino de Compostela?
My body said… Yes!
Next: Preparing to Walk The Way... Mind