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A Walk on The Way To Peace

Sep 25, 2022 | Mindfulness

 

Last year, I embarked on the Camino de Santiago, a transformative pilgrimage that inspired me to delve into research on the mental health benefits of walking.

My way

Choosing the coastal Portuguese Camino, I commenced my journey at the Cathedral in Lisbon, Portugal, concluding it at the Cathedral in Santiago, Spain, covering a total of 643 km or 400 miles. Over the course of a month, I adhered to a daily routine, rising at 5:30 AM, commencing my walk at 6 AM, and covering around 20 km by the afternoon.

The cumulative impact on my psyche became evident after completing the Camino and returning home. Walking proved instrumental in shedding mental burdens and reshaping my priorities.

I was not alone on this journey. Pilgrims from across the globe walked the Camino, with over two thousand pilgrims arriving in Santiago daily during the spring and summer.

I asked myself why so many people from different cultures are drawn to walk the Camino?

 

During my walk, I had several conversations with fellow pilgrims. One memorable exchange was with a Danish woman named Roxanne. In the mid-afternoon, having already walked over 20 km that day, I asked if she planned to stop in the next town. Roxanne’s response was poignant: “No, I haven’t reached that state of mind that brings me peace yet.”

The mental health benefits of walking.

Thinking back on this conversation and so many similar ones I had with people of all ages. And reading research about the effects of walking, especially long-distance walks, on mental health, I came up with the following insights:

Walking combines the mental health benefits of physical activity with the benefits of spending time outdoors. That is true for walking in nature and, to a lesser degree, for walking in an urban environment. 

Traditionally, a pilgrimage was a religious endeavor. Today many secular people use pilgrimage as an opportunity to step out of the treadmill of modern life, resolve existential crises or find a new meaning in life.  

Keith Egan writes about the Camino:

“Rather, it (the Camino) is a reinvention of the contemporary phenomenon as a leisure pursuit, moving at a human speed and its deployment as a rejection of a particular form of modernity.”

Simplifying

Walking the Camino offers not just a different pace in life but also simplicity. Each morning you wake up with just one goal, following the arrow. Multitasking, a skill necessary for modern life, is useless when you just need to walk. Reducing your belonging to what can fit in your backpack is hugely freeing.

Finding meaning

Many pilgrims I encountered on the Camino sought meaning in lives that had lost purpose or direction. I met a father with three teens who undertook the journey after losing the teens’ mother, and a woman decided to walk the Camino following the loss of her husband of 40 years. Others took time off after a divorce, job loss, or retirement.

The walk often entailed physical pain. Most pilgrims, if not all, around me engaged in foot-care rituals at the beginning and end of each day. Yet, when you reached the day’s end with sore feet and exhaustion, there was a sense of euphoria. You felt resilient and empowered.

These sentiments transformed from the physical to the emotional and mental. “If I could walk through this hardship, I could face everything that life might throw at me,” I reassured myself.

arriving in Santiago

Long-distance walking is linked to a reduction in stress, a rise in positive emotions, and the cultivation of a sense of well-being and personal growth.

The benefits of walking for the heart

Long-distance walking proves to be a cost-effective means of enhancing short-term well-being. It achieves this by lowering blood pressure and stress levels, improving immune and brain function. Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) uncovered that the foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries, boosting blood supply to the brain, resulting in increased focus and memory—another benefit being a potential prevention of dementia.

In the long term, walking contributes to weight reduction, alleviates depression, and boosts the levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.

Through my research, I’ve learned that the Camino Santiago is just one of many trails worth exploring. From the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast of America to the Cross Israel Trail and the St Andrews Way in Scotland, wherever you are, a long walk offers an opportunity to step out of your routine, reevaluate, and rejuvenate.

For further insights into this topic, I recommend reading “The 12-Hour Walk” by Colin O’Brady.

But ultimately, it is not about reading about walking from the comfort of your recliner but more about lacing your walking shoes and stepping out the door.

 

Buen Camino!

 

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Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

A Walk on The Way To Peace

Sep 25, 2022 | Mindfulness

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

A Walk on The Way To Peace

Sep 25, 2022 | Mindfulness

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

A Walk on The Way To Peace

Sep 25, 2022 | Mindfulness

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

A Walk on The Way To Peace

Sep 25, 2022 | Mindfulness

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

A Walk on The Way To Peace

Sep 25, 2022 | Mindfulness

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

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