It’s All About the Journey

As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. ~A.C. Benson 

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For many centuries people have embarked on sacred journeys, or pilgrimages, to shrines, temples, cathedrals and other holy destinations. In Medieval times priests sent poor people on these sacred journeys telling them they would be closer to securing a place in heaven and saving their souls if they prayed at these holy places, offering gifts to the monks and Lords. Poor people traveled great distances on foot, often finding peace at these places or what they believed to be redemption for their souls.  Wealthy people would pay the poor to go on pilgrimages for them, sure this would also secure their place in Heaven (some things never change).

Today these journeys continue and people spend days, months or years traveling to far off lands to find what is missing in their lives, turn inward, find peace and nurture their souls. Elizabeth Gilbert spent a year doing this and sharing it with us in her book, Eat, Pray, Love. Wayne Dyer spent a year living the Tao, and then shared his interpretation in Living the Wisdom of the Tao, and his experiences and insights in many of his other books and lectures. He also takes people on tours to prearranged destinations to embark on their own personal journeys. He shares these experiences in his lectures from time to time.

Pilgrimages have become popularized again, in our modern times, and have almost been celebrated as something we have to do to really look inward, become enlightened, see who we are and whether we are living the life we have come here to live. It’s a spiritual journey we feel we can only get from walking the holy places on earth. Many people feel they have really missed out on something if they have not embarked upon one of these journeys.

Did you know you can “Google” Pilgrimage tours and find a destination that will best suit your budget, needs and desires? The most common destination seems to be India, but there are many places apparently where we can better “find” our true selves and at special group rates! Common destinations seem to be Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Israel. I was somewhat surprised to see Prague, Ireland, Mexico City and Poland as destination Pilgrimage tours. This has become big business in these days of popular spirituality. And, who are you, anyway, if you haven’t been to Lourdes and Assisi? Before I head down a road to sincere sarcasm here, I want to say I have the utmost respect for people who take pilgrimages, and I have heard some of the most emotionally moving stories from those who have traveled to some of these destinations.

I have also heard some of the most beautiful stories of people connecting with their souls (whatever that means to them) in places nearby their homes, while on a nature hike, a visit to the ocean or mountains, while riding public transportation, or at a local homeless shelter. People have amazing experiences while driving down the freeway, talking to a stranger in line at the grocery store, visiting an assisted living or nursing home, helping someone, or listening to music (which I feel offers more power than given credit). I heard an amazing story from a friend who had a very enlightening experience in the Redwood Forest among the towering giants. You can read about one of my own experiences during a visit to the Rocky Mountains a couple years ago here.

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Anyone who knows me or follows me here knows I’m pretty much a hot mess when it comes to figuring out what life is all about or what my purpose is here on earth. I do not live without opinion or judgment. I’ll admit that, while many others will not (yes, I recognize that judgment). I obviously have more questions than answers and I’m quite all right with that. See, when I question, I find insight and it helps push me forward with another question and yet another perspective to consider.

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us. ~Proust

Some of my personal experiences that have had the greatest impact on my life and uplifted my soul are those I have spent doing what would seem like the most mundane or ordinary activity. I find the most benefit in creative endeavors such as painting or decorating my home, writing, building my labyrinth and our outdoor space this past summer, and hearing children, or anyone, laugh. For it is in that time where it’s felt like minutes, but turned into hours, that I get lost in the Now. I have freed my mind of thoughts and entered a deep trance-like state, held no judgment and truly found joy.

As the calendar flipped over this year, and I evaluated what I’d like to see improve in my life the answer became clear. It was simply everything. Yes, everything. So, I have joined the popular wave of current thought, and am embarking on a Pilgrimage. Of course this is my own pilgrimage with a twist, and I have no gurus, monks, chosen teachers or leaders, except my own heart. I am following my heart. Scary, indeed! I haven’t always listened to my heart so this should be interesting. My heart is speaking. I am listening. My thoughts are interrupting (often) and I am trying to observe them without judgment.

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

This pilgrimage or journey as I prefer to call it, takes place in my own home, backyard, and community. It will last 90 days, involves daily meditation, a walk through my labyrinth, reading various chosen materials and journaling daily. I am in a state of mindfulness, noticing everything I do with all my senses, and without judgment. Oops, notice judgment above. Ok, trying not to judge. I’m on day 8.

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This has been incredibly challenging (yes, I know its only day 8) because I am not a disciplined person. Just knowing that I have these things to do everyday and that I have to be mindfully aware and in the present moment is, well, difficult. I’m not fighting it though, and I can say I look forward to my meditations and even more forward to my labyrinth walks. I am doing things I enjoy and trying to bring more creativity and joy into my life.

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I wake up in the morning with a renewed sense of purpose now, looking forward to the day. I don’t generally take the time to think about myself because I have kids who need me, and they get most of my attention. What I’ve discovered so far (yes, in just a week!) is that I am more available for them by being more attentive to myself. It’s all about self-love in the end, I believe.

By sharing this with you, I now have people to hold me accountable, something I don’t generally like so be gentle with me. I’ll be sharing parts of my journey in blogs, although it may be a different location, which I’ll share when I set that up. I hope to see a new, improved me in ninety days. I am inspired and looking forward to the challenge.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

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2 Responses

  1. You’ve been on a journey for a while and have gone places where very have been or even have the perception that they need to go there. I am glad that you have chosen to follow your heart because it never fails us ultimately…as long as we trust that know. This is a fantastic experience that you pursue and I wish you the best energy that brings you closer to source…I know it will. The path is right and the process is right. Blessings and warmth on the way…..

  2. awesome and so beautiful pam! you are excellent at painting such amazing pictures with your words. i am grateful. oxox

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