The journey of a pilgrim begins within
Why a pilgrimage? I don’t know if it’s the sheer courage it takes to walk thousands of miles of terrain within your own heart, or because it’s such a beautiful idea to venture toward some great unknown, but the idea of taking a pilgrimage has embedded itself inside of me.
Traditionally the pilgrimage was, and still is today, a venture where the mystics walked in holy lands. A literal walk. But, it is also defined as, “a metaphorical journey into someone's own beliefs and the course of life on earth.” In a way, we’re all pilgrims, but not everyone knows they’re on a journey.
In this pilgrimage, we’re walking within. Some of the most daring terrain lies within your own heart and mind. Because it isn’t the way the world is that affects you, but the way you are that affects the world. And this is created with your own hands, your own thoughts, your own heartbeat, and your own neurons.
To really know yourself is not a given. It can take many lifetimes to understand who you really are. What are you made up of? Why are you here? What purpose do you serve? Are you awake? Do you want to be?
I chose the word pilgrimage to describe this work because it is a practice, a dedication, and an adventure to the depth of your whole self. When a pilgrim returns they are not the same. You will see things, experience things, feel things, and learn things along the way that fundamentally change you.
My request is that upon returning at the end of our year, you take all that you learn and go back into the world and teach. Let your life be your greatest teaching. Come fully alive and dare to ask questions you can’t answer. Even more, attempt to live their answers with total faith.
“This is why we journey – to retrieve our lost intimacy with the world.”
– Christine Valters Paintner, The Soul of a Pilgrim
Awaken Your Life Pilgrimage is a teaching, a learning, and something you will experience in your own way. I encourage this. No two pilgrims will come away from this year teaching it the same. I also encourage this. I am giving you principles. You make them your own. I am giving you a foundation. You get to build the rest. This is the way of a pilgrim. The tools are irrelevant. How they transform you is their sole purpose.
“The Way” is both an actual pilgrimage, a very famous pilgrimage, and it is our path for this Awaken Your Life year. The Way is also known as The Way of St. James or The Camino de Santiago and is a 500-mile trek through the northern part of Spain. The concept of The Way is also found in Taoism. When you look at a yin/yang symbol, there is a curved line that separates yin from yang. This line is also known as “the way,” a harmony between these two equal but different energies.
I chose to use this metaphor along with the pilgrimage because ultimately you’re journeying to your own harmony point. The balance between your light and your shadow. The middle point between your own light and dark. Because neither is better than the other. You actually need both and you need to be a in relationship with both aspects of yourself.
The Way is also the middle line in your brain that divides your left and right hemispheres. When you live harmoniously with both sides of your brain, you employ rational and logic alongside the depth of creativity and intuition. Walking in The Way is a metaphor for moving closer to seeing the world with a more balanced lens.
The idea of The Way is also found in ancient cultures. The Wayfinder was a person in a tribe that could help point their people in the right direction, whether this was foraging for food or safe shelter. They have come to represent the people who point others toward a right life, a full life, and even help them walk through their own transformation. In essence, they help you get on your own path toward self-actualization or enlightenment. This is what you’ll walk out of this year doing.
You are a modern Wayfinder and this path you’re walking, this pilgrimage to the heart of your life, is your Way.
Together, we will walk five paths within – the mind, the heart, the crown, the ground, and transformation. In the outback of Australia, Aboriginals have a right of passage called a walkabout. The way you learn how to take someone on walkabout is to walk one. This is what you’re doing. Before you can teach the way, you have to walk the way. And not just any way: your way.