Heart Opening Along The Way

Extending my greetings to all and thanking you for your patience during my absence from writing. I went away to get in touch with my self. Having been called to walk the Camino de Santiago, I was able to clear my schedule and arrange my life so that I could go travel for 35 days. Even better, my 22-year-old son was able to join me on this journey.

You might ask, what did I find on this journey? Since my return many have asked this question, probing as to what it was all about? I have been asked over and over, “how did I feel”? “What did I find along The Way”?  “Was it all I had expected”? The questions are numerous; often I am unable to answer them. How do I begin to explain what this inner journey represented to me? I find it almost impossible, and my voice has remained silent.

I have written a lot about finding one’s voice, and in fact that was the premise of this blog, to find and hold my voice. As I am just beginning to reflect and process the pilgrimage, one thing I have found is that it is okay not to have a voice to answer the numerous questions and in that I feel at peace. There is a time and place to use your voice, and a time to remain silent, reflecting inward.

I will share that the journey was many things from beautiful, joyful, happy and fun to challenging, painful, gut wrenching and physically demanding. Oftentimes I did not think I could take another step. The Camino is a metaphor for life, it offers up a little bit of everything and it is up to us as to how we greet those challenges and joys. There were times I did not meet situations in a most prudent manner, and others when I was able to comfortably sit with whatever emotion arose.

We had walked from Atapuerca to Burgos one day. I knew the day would be a challenge in that there was much walking to get to the city center through a vast industrial area, in other words not scenic. It was also hot. I wanted to take a taxi from outside of the city into the center, where we would be staying, at least that was the plan, thus avoiding the industrial walking. This did not happen. We walked, lost our way on The Way and were unable to effectively communicate with the gas station attendant as to where to go. We saw no other pilgrims in sight. When you walk The Way you are known as a peregrino, or pilgrim. It was frustrating and my son and I became cross with one another. I asked myself why was I doing this? Whose idea was it to walk 500 miles across Spain anyway? I was miserable. Not from the physical aspect of the walk, as it was a relatively easy walk. As we made our way further and further across the dismal industrial area, which thankfully was silent as it was a Sunday, it dawned on me that I had read there was no bus service in most of the villages of Spain on Sunday, which clearly included Burgos! Just one more frustration to my day as we were standing at a large bus stop noting there certainly were none to ride on this day! I wanted to be done with this part of the walk now and I could feel my impatience mounting combined with the heat.

Suddenly, I took note that I was angry. Yes, on this pilgrimage I was angry. At first I felt ashamed. However, I stepped back and acknowledged this anger and allowed it to be. I did not shame it, stop it, or feed it. I simply allowed it to be what it was. In that moment I began to soften, I was no longer acting from fear, the fear of being lost in this city and believe me after coming out of tranquil rural villages a city the size of Burgos is an overload for the senses. I simply let go and observed what I felt; I told my son, “I am feeling angry”. It was a beautiful release, which lead to a softening of my heart.

That was part of the journey for me, the softening of my heart. I have been through many difficult and traumatic situations over these past 12 years and I have hardened my heart to a lot of life. The Camino was telling me to soften, to acknowledge things when I felt them, to observe, and to let go. This was only one of the many gifts and blessings I received along my pilgrimage. I hope to carry my lessons forward into my daily life because consistent softening of your system dissolves blocks in the flow of your life energy. It connects you with the life force in the universe. As you soften you let go of the stress and strain that have blocked your vitality. What can you do to soften your heart?

You can practice this exercise whenever you feel stress in daily life.

First, attempt to identify where the stress or emotion manifests in your body, and then try the following:

  • Begin softening into that location in your body. Letting the muscles be soft without a requirement that they become soft, like simply applying heat to sore muscles. Softening…softening…softening… Remember that you are not trying to make the sensation go away—you are just holding it in a tender embrace.
  • If you experience too much discomfort with an emotion, simply stay with your breath until you feel better. Now, begin to soothe yourself because you struggle in this way. Perhaps putting your hand over your heart again and feeling your body breathe. Perhaps bringing kind or encouraging words to mind. Hold yourself with loving awareness.
  • If you wish, direct kindness to an uncomfortable part of your body by placing your hand over that place. Maybe even thinking of your body as if it were the body of a beloved child, and gently soothing.
  • Finally, allowing the discomfort to be there. Letting go of the wish for discomfort to disappear. Allowing the discomfort to come and go as it pleases, like a guest in your own home. Allowing…softening…soothing…allowing. Repeat these words like a mantra, if you wish, reminding yourself to feel tenderness toward your suffering.
  • As you do this exercise you may find that the emotion moves in your body, try staying with your experience, continuing to use the technique of soften-soothe-allow.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart … Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. ~ Carl Jung

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About Wildflower Women

Welcome to my site. I am writing to give people inspiration to hold their voices, especially as concerns the grieving process. My hope is that everyone finds a little inspiration from my site. We are all a work in progress! Namaste.
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25 Responses to Heart Opening Along The Way

  1. It is good to have you back. The Camino has been calling me. The soothing voice grows in strength with time. Warmed to learn you chose to experience The Way.

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    • Thank you! I stand in grace from the experience. 🙂

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      • On September 23rd, my guest on the Awakening to Awareness Radio Show will be a woman with an unenviable life story, She walked the Spanish Primitivo last year in honor of her 23 year young son and is returning to Portugal next month to walk yet another path. She, and so many others who have chosen this journey/experience, are blessed.

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  2. Healing Grief says:

    Welcome back! I look forward to hearing more about your amazing journey. Your experience along your journey understanding and acknowledging your emotions is great. How often are we told not to show or feel our anger? Accepting each feeling as it arises has helped me immensely.

    Thanks for reminding us to identify where it is in our body.
    Karen

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    • Thank you, and yes isn’t that the truth we are told not to feel certain things and yet me do need to accept these feelings as they manifest. I truly believe only then do we move forward. Thanks for reading my article. 🙂

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  3. Greetings from the professor! And how are you this fine morning?

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  4. Welcome back
    very beautiful experience – observing one’s own feelings while passing , is a beautiful thought
    all best wishes
    with regards

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  5. Reblogged this on aksharaalu – Best Collections and commented:
    observing one’s own feelings while passing , is a beautiful thought

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  6. Thank you for your warm comments.

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  7. I like that…The Camino softens the heart, and when you owned your anger; it went away. Great insight that the Camino provides.

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  8. You are so courageous…not only for walking 500 miles…but for what you share so honestly and without inhibition concerning your moment of anger. I have thought I was not an angry person—but this last half year—the anger is great within me—and, like you, I have come to realize that acknowledging it and saying, “I am angry” has helped me to face it and allow it to evaporate….eventually. Thank you for sharing your wisdom…it encourages me that I am on the right path!

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  9. Thank you my dear for your positive comments, and keep writing as you have a wonderful gift and I enjoy reading what you write, it lifts me!

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  10. It’s very good to hear that you had so fruitful a journey. I am grateful that you have shared some of the lessons learned along the way.
    Welcome back 🙂

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  11. Thank you for your warm comments!

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  12. Welcome back Heather… I completely understand the silence that the camino has brought to you, true heart feelings are difficult to express… but I know your radiance speaks a thousand words to people around you and through the words you write here. Life now is all about SELF… feeling and loving self and as you say ‘softening the heart’. Oh what a beautiful gift you gave yourself with this journey. My heart has been softened this past month in the presence of my grandson… reminding me of be my true authentic self. take care Barbara x

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  13. Thank you Barbara. What a gift you are having as well with your beautiful grandchild. Life is such a beautiful journey! ❤

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  14. Thank you for this beautiful, inspiring post. Recognizing and acknowledging our feelings brings us to acceptance and release. It does no good to give free rent to anger and resentment in our heads and hearts. Your journey has been a treasure.

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  15. kmoore20 says:

    Hello dear adventurous one! I thought about your blog often as it came out right before my now ended technology break. Yes, I’ve had many questions for you although they were the practical ones, “how did you like your Osprey?” “What did you do for water refueling along the way”-you know, hiking questions. That you could not describe the fullness of this experience is courageous and honest. Pain, challenges, no bus service, wondering what possessed you to do this journey all so deliciously, messily human. Your words are encouragement to vulnerability and for us (me) to be kinder to ourselves. Thank you! P.S. Plus you have an awesome tattoo!

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  16. Greetings Kathleen. The Osprey worked well for me, super light weight bag. I ripped an outside pocket before I left and had to return it, so beware of those things as it’s outside pockets that are mesh are not very durable. Derek’s has a hole in it as well. I wish I had tried on a junior (as in kids) sized pack, it might have fit me better. Water, every little village typically has potable water in an outside fountain, and if not the bars will refill if you are making a purchase and ask. Water was never an issue on this hike. Some clothing choices I would have made differently, small things. However, in terms of a comparison to the AT or PCT, much easier in that you have places to stay each night and thus one’s load is lessened, as well as plenty of food along the way. I did love my Brooks Cascadia Trail runners, which is what I finally decided on for the walk. Don’t think they are appropriate for every kind of hiking, but they worked well on this trail. I could go on as to gear, socks, etc. Derek had the best of socks, Icebreakers, no blisters and he wore no liner socks. I had 3 blisters with Smart Wool and they got holes in them. However, from a spiritual heart opening place, wow, this walk surely does that for one’s soul! Miss you!

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  17. kmoore20 says:

    I wondered about your shoes and was envious of the weight : ) I’m going to send a proper email this weekend. Miss you back!

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  18. What an amazing experience. You are lucky to have done it with your son. It is so kinf of you to share pieces of this journey with us. Very well written. Hugs, Barbara

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  19. clarabetty says:

    I like where you say it is lk not to have a voice to answer all the questions .. and yet you did answer some and gave us some useful insights as to how to soften our hearts. So nice that you could share this life experience with your son. Did he share with you what the journey meant to him?

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  20. clarabetty says:

    I meant to say ” It is okay not to have a voice…..”

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  21. Clara, thanks for the nice comments. Yes, sometimes I do think it is okay just to process it all. As to my son, oh yes, he learned a great deal as well on this journey. One thing specifically was to have more self-confidence and awareness. Also, for both of us we were shown the gift of forgiveness. I will write more on this topic I am sure, for it touched both of us in so many ways.

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