Yes, And So Much More

Do you make a practice of listening to the Universe? For some people, that question may sound a bit too “Woo, woo.” But I’ve noticed that our days are filled with answers and doors opening, yet our survival instinct has us finding every excuse to ignore all the opportunities presented to us.

 

This past year, I was given one of the greatest opportunities of my life. I was asked to join a group to walk 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which is a 500 mile pilgrimage and known as THE greatest spiritual walk, one that has been known to change lives. This is also the walk that is featured in the film The Way starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.

 

A funny thing happens when you are presented with an opportunity like this. Your heart screams YES, but your head goes into excuse mode. How could I be away from my family that long? The expense? How on Earth will I ever be fit enough to walk 100 miles? I’m ready to call it a day after just a couple of miles of walking.

 

This past year, I lost my father to Alzheimer’s disease. Seeing him go through this, changed my perspective on life and how precious each moment can be. So, I challenged myself with instead of saying “no” or finding excuses, I made a game out of it, using the improvisation method of “Yes, And.”

 

Basically, when you are acting in a scene and an actor presents another idea, instead of shooting it down, you build on it to keep the story line moving. It is a great technique to develop creative conversations and one that could be used in your everyday life.

 

They say that the Camino begins the moment you say yes, or for me, that answer was a passionate “YES, AND.” I began training for the Camino with long walks each day and I could already see the benefits from something as simple as walking. My husband and I walked together to eat dinner on date nights. Not only was I feeling healthier, my relationships were becoming deeper.

 

To explain the benefits of walking the Camino or what I got from my spiritual journey in 500 words or less, wouldn’t give it justice. There are so many metaphors of life in the experience that It is no wonder why there are tons of books, movies and lectures given about the Camino. But I’ll briefly share one of my own.

 

Through the Camino, I discovered the gift of slowing down and living in the present. We tend to live our lives dwelling on the past and looking towards the future, but we forget to savor the moment.

I found the days when we stopped, slowed down and became one with nature, more spiritually fulfilling than when the focus became about getting to the next stop. Just like life, the Camino is about the journey just as much, if not more than the destination.

Allyson Jannotta