Mindfulness, the Camino and intention

Yesterday was a resolute day, an intentio day, a day of intention. A day for turning ‘the face of my soul’ to God (a contemplative said this). A day of the Jesus Prayer and prayer rope, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner. A day of music which sounded as intense in the silence and solitude as any teenage sending (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Bring Him Home, Agnus Dei, Finlandia, Fix You, Into The West, New Rose, Scarborough Fair, Someone Like You, Somethin’ Stupid, The New World). In particular Now The Green Blade Riseth spoke to me.

Packing my case in the morning slightly tweaked my back. I have a joint that jams on the left and sends the muscles into spasm. My body started sending me helpful messages like bus, taxi, chiropractor rather than walk 20 kms. But something takes over when you start walking in this pilgrimage way. I think your soul moves from background to foreground, it becomes the figure leading the way.

I didn’t want to stop in case my joint jammed and then I would be stuck so I just kept walking until I got to Santiago. There were families, friends, young, old, many nationalities…one man walking with a frame.

As I walked I prayed that I would be emptied of my small self, that a larger self would begin to emerge, green blades rising.

May I be emptied of my small self…

May I be filled with a larger self…

May you…

One of the key aspects of mindfulness is to have the intention to do it. This walk today helped me to strength the ability to have intention.

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the mindfully ecstatic state of mind #camino

Yesterday was a day of ecstasy. I wasn’t expecting ecstasy, agony certainly…I was trying to work out why.

It could have been grace

maybe it was flow

maybe it was good stress

It came on while I was walking and stayed all day.

maybe it was the walking

perhaps we are made for walking

perhaps it was the soft Galician countryside, and the small farms I was walking through

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I know we have been given mindful states of mind, and one of those is an ecstatic state of mind. I have also experienced it skiing, the song of ecstasy.

I think it is a gift, part of what means to be fully human, from the Giver of gifts. It is a created gift to experience in creation.

Mindfulness upgrades our internal wet weather gear

There were thundery showers yesterday on the Camino. On today’s stage it started to rain the second I stepped through the door of the Pension O Retiro where I am staying tonight.

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I have dramatised today’s photo, just as we so often catastrophize our own internal weather. I have seen people with all sorts of wet weather gear, some fit for purpose and some clearly not.

I have mindfully discerned that I am missing a cover for my small rucksack (or a poncho that covers it), gaiters, and a water proof pouch for my passport. My coat is waterproof but not breathable, another thing I need to change.

My boots having been reglued before I came away have split again. There’s a parable in here somewhere.

What I’ve realised is that we make do with the internal wet weather gear we have inherited through family scripts, or that have become our own automatic ways of coping or not. This gear may not be always fit for purpose.

What I’ve learnt from mindfulness is that its theory and practice can upgrade our internal wet weather gear until it is fit for purpose. It won’t stop thundery showers or rain, but enables us to thrive as we walk through them.

 

#Mindfulness and the mist of anxiety

When the mist of anxiety falls on you it limits your mind. You perceive the feeling is the only reality.

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As I walk the Camino and reach higher ground I realise the mist is not generalised as I thought but localised in a valley. I become aware of higher ground free of mist.

Mindfulness takes me by the hand when the mist of anxiety falls and leads me to higher ground. I reperceive the anxiety as a valley in my mind not the whole of my reality. I come out into the light.

walking and the evaporation of psychological waste mindfully

The tree of our life can be healthy, except we are carrying burdens, and within those burdens is psychological and spiritual waste.

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I came across this tree on my Camino walk, which symbolised those unnecessary burdens. One of the reasons for doing this pilgrimage is to lay down the burdens, to let go of the psychological and spiritual waste within those burdens.

I was inspired to do a longer walk through the daily practice of short mindful walks. On this longer walk I have chosen a hat, socks and shirts that can ‘wick’ moisture – move moisture away from the skin. I have found short mindful walks act like emotional ‘wicking,’ and very important in the day-to-day regulation of emotion. My belief is that the Camino walks can allow the baggage of the last seven years to trail behind me.

As I become emptied of psychological and spiritual waste, I can be filled with hope, love and faith. The evaporation of waste enables the condensation of love.

Using mindfulness in the walk of life to stop it blistering

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I’ve just done the first day of my six day walk along the Camino from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. At 22 kms it is the longest walk I have done since a teenager. In preparing for the walk people advised me to push enough in the training to find the hot spots, the parts of the foot that blister first.

I was then given two tips, one to use special plasters that act like second skin, and the second is to use Vaseline on your feet to stop rubbing. Both worked I’m pleased to say. Although I have found one extra hot spot.

In the stress of life we can have hot spots, certain events that makes us anxious, or sad, or angry. Mindfulness doesn’t take away stress but it acts like a second skin plaster, or like Vaseline to reduce the friction that causes us to react rather than respond to difficulties.

What are your hot spots? And how do you handle them?

 

 

Emotional Wicking and Mindfulness

I am going to do an eight day section of the Camino pilgrimage walk in Spain in May. We will be walking from 13 to 24 kilometres a day and it will be warm. I’m looking for socks, shirts and a hat that have moisture wicking abilities: equipment that moves the moisture away from your skin through the sock, for example, helping to regulate the natural processes  the human body goes through in exercise and reduce the friction.

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As human beings we have natural self-regulating psychological  processes such as emotional regulation, and these processes wick our emotions. They notice our emotions, experience them without clinging to them and avoiding them and allowing them to move on – because our thoughts and feelings are passing mental events. This is an insight of mindfulness and these are naturally mindful processes- mindfulness practice can enhance this natural emotional wicking. 

The first step is the metacognitive proposition that my thoughts and feelings are passing mental events. This proposition can then become a metacognitive insight, move from head to heart and felt experience through mindful practice. We become aware of this capacity for emotional wicking as it happens.

All our feelings are important including those generated by our amygdala, our fight and flight response. The trouble is that we live  in such a fearful and anxious culture that our stress response is is on a hair-trigger, our capacity for emotional wicking gets overwhelmed.

As I learnt how to practice and restore an enhanced emotional wicking through mindfulness practice, I realised that I wasn’t an anxious person stuck in the sweat of anxiety, I was having anxious thoughts and that I could handle them mindfully and wisely through natural but enhanced emotional wicking.