The Way

el camino de santiago

As you may know, there’s a wonderful pilgrimage path in Spain called El Camino de Santiago. The trail spans hundreds of miles along northern Spain and ends at The Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela.

Also known as The Way, El Camino de Santiago was an important pilgrimage path in the middle ages for people traveling to visit the remains of St. James. The Way has been re-popularized by modern religious pilgrims as well as secular travelers and as many as 200,000 people a year will walk for several weeks staying in hostels along the route to arrive at the cathedral on the coast in Eastern Spain.

El Camino or The Path is the theme of the retreat while we are in Spain. Yoga is such an poignant and practical way of practicing and appreciating one’s personal pathway to discovering the inner-sanctum of your purpose, heart, and divine nature. A lot of P’s in that last sentence. Work with me.

The Path. Many travelers and heroes arrive home only to realize that what they were searching for was at home the entire time. Or perhaps better said, what you were searching for was within you. Yes, sometimes it takes a trip around the world to realize that what you were searching for was latent within your own heart the entire time.

Ultimately, we are misguided if we look at the destination of life or yoga practice as the endpoint of our journey. Being present, comfortable with the ground at your feet, is the true journey.

It reminds of me of the sticker I have on the back of my truck that reminds me of this. Instead of the stickers that boast 13.1, 26.2, or something like that, insider code for those who like endurance sports, this sticker says 1”. It reminds me that no matter where I travel, unless I’m comfortable with that journey of 1”, where, like Wendell Berry says, I “arrive at the ground at my feet and learn to be at home,” no journey I will ever take will ever teach me anything about the world. I’ve got to be comfortable with here, with THIS.

This message was never drilled into me more poignantly than two years ago when I saw that sticker, the 1” sticker on the back of my truck, recede into the horizon as I witnessed my truck literally be stolen from out of my hands. In part that sticker reminded me that I was going to have to be comfortable with the ground at my feet ‘cuz from that moment on I was going to be walking for the foreseeable future. Read the full story.

It also reminds me that along your life's journey, when life seems to smack you down, your first task is to get grounded. Sometimes grounding is easy because you’re lying face-down in the mud. Then, pick yourself back up.

While being humbled is sometimes difficult, we must remember that the word humiliate comes from humus, or the ground, and implies a fertile soil that will cause new sprouts to grow.

I invite you to be comfortable with the ground at your feet. Ground yourselves with simple practices like gardening, yoga, walking, and meditation.

Here’s Wendell Berry’s poem

A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,

no matter how long,

but only by a spiritual journey,

a journey of one inch,

very arduous and humbling and joyful

by which we arrive at the ground at our feet

and learn to be at home.