The easiest part of any pilgrimage is planning the physical aspects. However, little to no attention is paid to preparing the inner terrain, the mental, emotional and spiritual elements that define pilgrimage.
In this talk given to pilgrims, Mony shares some reflections on preparing this inner terrain. A summary follows.
Unlike physical preparations, there are no checklists for spiritual preparation. All that we can offer you are our reflections and the lessons we have learned from our 20+ years each of being on this quest before, during and after our pilgrimages.
May they serve your spiritual journey and guide you towards your own truth.
You are Spirit, created by a loving Presence called by many names and in whose eyes, you are perfect… no matter what you believe about yourself. This Presence is ALWAYS with you… no matter how separate or alone you may believe you are. This Presence loves you…whether you believe that or not. Signs, omens, synchronicities, dreams, prophetic encounters are the language that this Presence uses to make itself known to you, to make you know that you are not alone. It is up to you to cultivate this relationship with the sacred so that you may understand the language it uses to communicate with you.
This Presence is within you, around you and the very fabric of existence. Within you, it is your inner guide or teacher, a source you can turn to for your answers. It is loving, non-judging and sits in the absolute knowing of who you are and what is yours to do, undisturbed by your fears and the distractions of the outer world. It resides in stillness, awaiting the moment of your connection with it. Outer experts can offer valuable knowledge and advice, but only this inner teacher can reveal whether this information is perfect for you and your spiritual path. It speaks to you in the language of intuition, inner knowing, inner peace. The relationship with this inner teacher is the most important relationship to cultivate, as it will always bring you to truth. This inner guide is your inner yellow arrow when the outer arrows disappear. It will bring you safely home.
Surrendering to the wisdom and guidance of this inner teacher is perhaps the most difficult challenge. We are taught to plan and control every aspect of our lives, so that we can feel safe. The notion of surrendering control to “another” is downright frightening, even if we are surrendering to the wisest, most loving part of ourselves (our inner teacher). We do not trust its guidance. We don’t trust ourselves or our ability to understand its message. We maintain our iron grip on control, believing our safety lies in preparing for the worst.
What gets in the way of surrender and trust is the earthly mind. This mind never tires of making plans and devising the infinite ways it tells you to avoid the many perils and dangers of the world. From one rabbit hole to another it leads you, showing you all the perceived dangers and how you must plan to avoid them. The foundation of the mind’s need to control is the central BELIEF that without it, you would be alone facing a cruel world whose intention is to harm you. It feeds your deepest fears, and insists that only through its plans are you safe. Rather than looking at the beliefs that caused the fears in the first place, the mind keeps you distracted with its ideas. Healing those foundational beliefs that cause the fear – looking squarely at them – is the task of your inner teacher. Your teacher will guide you to liberate those fears and beliefs, and to replace with love, confidence and peace the place that fear once occupied.
Deep breathing is the easiest way to access this teacher. Place your hand on your heart, and breathe. Deeply. As many times as you need. This simple practice brings your attention to the present moment. It slows down your thoughts. It calms the emotions. It brings stillness. In that stillness, when your mind and heart and body are at peace, you can listen to another voice, one that is confident and unhurried, and that you will know is speaking truth because all you will feel in its presence is unabiding love and peace. Listen to THAT voice, and see how it compares to the often frantic voice of the earthly mind.
Ask to be shown the way. Ask to be guided to what most serves your healing and your spiritual growth. Ask to remain present and at peace so that you may hear in every moment the voice of your inner guide.
One of the most difficult truths that Alberto and I had to accept was that WE were the source of all that unpleasant experiences we were living. We wanted to blame the other for our misfortune, to judge and attack them for what we believed they had done to us. We did not want to accept – or even consider – that we were projecting our fears and traumas (mostly subconscious) out onto the world… and that the world was bringing us the people and situations to confirm what we believed. In that loop we stayed for a long time, casting blame upon another, until we realized that WE (with our deep-seated beliefs and biases) were calling unto ourselves all that we believed. Our inner journey – with the guidance of our inner teacher – is exclusively dedicated to liberating those energies within us so that we may be at peace. To forgiving ourselves for simply not knowing any better and having believed a story of life that was simply untrue. So that we may BE PEACE. So that we may recognize the Light and truth of what we are and who created us. It is THIS energy that we now bring into the world.
We are all connected to each other in an indivisible web that we cannot escape. What we condemn in another, we condemn in ourselves. What we love in another, we love in ourselves. The healing of one is the healing of all. Pilgrimage teaches us to look after one another, to leave no hurting pilgrim behind, to see the fellow pilgrim as a brother who is like us who has their frailties just as we do, and to open our hearts in generosity and compassion. This practice of brotherhood makes the Camino work, but is certainly not exclusive to it. Brotherhood is what we are invited to practice in the greatest pilgrimage we all walk called life.
THANK YOU are the most powerful words you can say to yourself. “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart. Repeat those words often, nonstop, throughout the day, and watch how they transform you.
Buen (inner) Camino!