Sunday, June 29, 2008

A PILGRIM CALLED 'SELF'

There will be two pilgrims on your pilgrimage path - you and a pilgrim called 'self'.
You will be the one putting on the brakes, setting limits, telling 'self' that you can't do this, or can't carry on. 'Self' will want to soar - to be free! Free the pilgrim called 'self' and allow her to transform into a creature of courage and strength.


In the film Me, Myself & Irene, Jim Carrey has an alto-ego who is totally different from 'himself'. We all have a bit of that in us.
When someone achieves something great you'll often hear them say."I really surprised myself!"
You might also hear, "I feel that I've let myself down" when they don't achieve what they set out to do.
There is an inner person in all of us who dreams of doing extraordinary things, of ballroom dancing , playing a musical instrument, of becoming an artist, or going on adventure trails."
The outer person is the one who applies the brakes, who sets the limits, who says, "No, I can't see myself doing that."
Do you know yourself? Really know your inner 'self'?
Who you are. What you are made of. What you are capable of. Do you underestimate yourself?
When you embark on a long-distance hike like the camino you have to give your 'self' the opportunity to try. Free the inner 'self' who would like to be adventurous, try new things, achieve the unimaginable.
The person who plans to walk the camino is often not the same person who returns home. It can be a life changing experience in many imperceptible ways. You have pushed the boundaries and have gained a new sense of what you are truly capable of. You have a sense of achievement that will make you a more confident, braver person than you were before.
In the camino film "Within the Way Without" the young pilgrim from Brazil writes daily diary entries to her 'self', knowing that she is changing as she walks the camino, not sure if she will ever meet her old 'self' again.
When she has to catch a bus in the end because she is burned out and has tendonitis, she apologises to her 'self' for not training enough and for not being strong enough to continue to the end. She is sad and remorseful because she feels that she has let her 'self' down.
Some people say that they are walking the camino to 'find themselves'. We lead such busy lives that we often lose touch with who we are; no time for quiet contemplation or for meditation. Walking the camino gives us space and time - away from home, commitments, daily chores - to challenge the body, mind and soul. Walking a long distance pilgrimage is a multi-level journey. Its like a crash course in finding your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental 'self'.
On a ± 800km walk like the Camino Frances you have to physically take over a million steps to get from your starting point to your destination. That is a lot of physical energy! Sitting at home and contemplating taking 1 million steps can be overwhelming and unless you have the will and motivation to keep lifting one foot after the other, you will not reach your destination – no matter how fit you are.
Strength of will does not come from strong muscles, eating energy foods, taking supplements, or multivitamins. It comes from within. You will be walking the way 'within' and this journey will be just as difficult, if not more so, than the outward journey.
On such a journey you don’t only learn what your body is capable of but also how strong you are mentally. You have to have the mental strength to carry on going even when you are exhausted or in pain. “Mind over matter” really means something when you constantly have to draw on sheer mental strength to keep the body going.
The Paralympic logo is "The Triumph of the Human Spirit". The competing athletes all have various degrees of physical disability that would make many of us stay at home and never do anything physical, but these brave souls all triumph through their strength of spirit.
A few years ago, the logo of the South African Paralympic team was the Butterfly and these words were written to describe the logo:
"Through its metamorphosis the butterfly epitomises nature's ultimate miracle, transforming into a creature of courage, strength and extreme beauty. In the pursuit of the triumph of the human spirit so too do disabled athletes emerge, thereby attaining their freedom."
Prepare to free your 'self'. Just as you prepare to limit your material needs so that you don't have needless baggage to carry with you, slough off your psychological baggage that weighs you down just as heavily.
To prepare your 'self' mentally, read a few inspirational stories of ordinary people's achievements against difficult odds. There are hundreds of these. Find a role model, someone who has really inspired you and when the going gets tough, use that person as your inspiration to keep going. Make a pact with your 'self' that you will do your very best to allow your spirit to triumph so that you don't let your 'self' down.

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