I have heard that the Camino de Santiago is a journey with three parts. The first third is about the body, the second about the mind, and the third about the spirit.
During that first third of the Camino (or the Master Key Experience), is the physical. You must master your body – whether that is walking every day for 20-30 km, or remaining completely still during a 15 minute sit. You are becoming attuned to your body, listening to it, appreciating it, taking care of it. On the Camino you take care of your feet especially – otherwise blisters could halt your progress. The first few days on the Camino are very difficult, even if you trained and packed well, and take it easy. You start (if walking from St Jean Pied de Port) by crossing the Pyrenees Mountain range over the first one or two days. And it doesn’t really get much easier for quite a while – but you get stronger!
It is amazing how resilient your body is. You can be dead tired at the end of a long day of walking, and then the next morning be full of energy for yet another 25 km walk. But even so, the occasional rest day can do wonders. At km 236, we took a rest day in the picturesque town of Belorado. The first and only time we slept in the same bed two nights in a row. It was my daughter’s idea to stop for a rest day, but later I realized how much I needed one as well – after I slept in till about 9:00! The photo above is taken on our rest day, when we hiked up above the town to explore an ancient ruin and cave. Something we would never have done if we were walking that day.
This rest day was a turning point for us. It made us stronger, we re-evaluated our Camino plans, and going forward we walked easier, took our time, and relaxed into the experience a bit more. And coincidentally, that was about a third into our journey!
How does this correspond with the Master Key Experience? First, you must control your body before you can control your thoughts, which we learn in the first few weeks of our ‘sits.’ Then, we control our efforts in other ways, with chore/service cards, reading our DMP, Blueprint Builder, and so on. Establishing those habits, as Og says:
My actions are ruled by appetite, passion, prejudice, greed, love, fear, environment, habit, and the worst of these tryants is habit. Therefore, if I must be a slave to habit, let me be a slave to good habits. My bad habits are destroyed and new furrows prepared for good seed. Og Mandino
The next third is the mental portion. Many people talk about the Meseta here, which is roughly the middle third of the Camino. This portion is flat, with endless prairies and crops. For those of you who are Canadians, it is like walking across Saskatchewan! In fact, I once thought we were in Canada, when I saw a teepee in the distance!
I think that easy, flat terrain gives you more time to think. I was talking to Mark about the Camino and he nailed it when he said he figured it is like a month-long sit! I was walking with my daughter, so we weren’t silent the whole time, but we did walk in companionable silence for long stretches. This is great! Just letting your mind go to work. This was before I did the Master Key Experience, so I think next time I do the Camino (yes, there will be a next time!) I will be more purposeful about it.
This mental journey is certainly evident in the Master Key. We have control over only one thing – our thought! Thought is energy and energy is power – there are so many quotes from the Master Key, here is one:
Mind is creative, and conditions, environment and all experiences in life are the result of our habitual or predominant mental attitude. The attitude of mind necessarily depends upon what we think. Therefore, the secret of all power, all achievement, and all possession depends upon our method of thinking. Charles Haanel Lesson 1:2-3
Next comes the spiritual portion. At this point, your body is strong, and when you control your mind, you can control your journey. Now you can explore your spirit! The Camino de Santiago is of course founded on religion, as it is the path to the remains of the apostle St James. Yet many pilgrims are not religious (many are). I believe that everyone finds a link to spirituality when they walk, though. Whether that is linked to organized religion, or to your own version of a higher power. The final third of the walk is where this most often comes to light. Later we will explore “Camino Magic” and the phrase “The Camino Provides” but for now, let’s just say that this part of the walk is a great time to become acquainted with your spiritual side.
There are many churches in Spain, and we visited at least one almost every day. Yet the place that I felt the most spiritual peace was in Finisterre (the end of the earth). Here, gazing out over the Atlantic ocean, I felt so happy and peaceful – it was amazing!
Well, if you have been reading Lesson 4 this week, you may find this quote interesting. It really clicked with me:
When you say “I think” the “I” tells the mind what it shall think; when you say “I go” the “I” tells the physical body where it shall go; the real nature of this “I” is spiritual, and is the source of the real power which comes to men and women when they come into a realization of their true nature. Charles Haanel Lesson 4:4
In our readings, and in the sit, we are learning about the power of the spirit, the power of the Silence. This is where and when we connect to our spirit, our greater power.
Over-work or over-play or over-bodily activity of any kind produces conditions of mental apathy and stagnation which makes it impossible to do the more important work which results in a realization of conscious power. We should, therefore, seek the Silence frequently. Power comes through repose; it is in the Silence that we can be still, and when we are still, we can think, and thought is the secret of all attainment. Charles Haanel Lesson 4:24
There you have it – the Camino, like the Master Key Experience is a journey of Body, Mind and Spirit.