No one pilgrimage journey is the same with each Camino journey being a unique experience. Each pilgrim will approach their Camino differently and many first time walkers can find themselves worrying about the ‘walk into the unknown’. ‘The 7 Deadly Camino Sins’ represent common Camino mistakes which if avoided can allow a truly rich,rewarding and life changing Camino to be experienced.
1) Poor Prior Physical Preparation
If you are a new to long distance walking then proper prior physical preparation and walking training is recommended. Of course, it is possible to ‘hit the ground running’ in Spain however the impact could be that your first Camino week is exhausting and includes perhaps physical pain and ailments including as blisters as your body adjusts to its new reality. The worst outcome could be to decide not to continue walking as suddenly the Camino experience doesn’t match your expectations of what you thought it would be.
2) Not Listening To The Body
The Camino is not a technically challenging walk. But, it is a tough walk because of the accumulated toll on the body of getting up and walking day after day. At times, many walkers choose to forge on ahead, for whatever reason, when the body is demanding a rest. The cost: muscle fatigue, ankle and knee pain, neck and back pain, tendonitis (inflamed and painful tendons).
3) Carrying A Too Heavy Load
‘We carry our fears in our backpack’. The size of your backpack and what you bring is representative of what you think you cannot do without. The downward pressure of carrying a too heavy rucksack for an extended period of time can again lead to knee and ankle pain, tendonitis and blisters.
4) Walking To An Imposed Deadline
Finding the time to walk the Camino can feel in itself a big challenge. For many, with life and work commitments there is only a set number of days in which to perhaps cram the whole Camino journey. When you give yourself the right number of days there isn’t a problem but when you don’t the Camino undertaking can become a race / challenge of ticking off the miles/kilometres to get to journey’s end. And, this maybe completely not the type of Camino you wanted to enjoy.
5) Walking To Another’s Pace
Walking with another is generally an enjoyable experience. Difficulties arise when you stop walking your own pace and start walking the pace of another for an extended period of time, particularly if they are faster than you. How does this come about? Often, from our reticence of speaking up and asking to slow down because of a fear of upsetting the other. So, you continue to keep going … a recipe for tendonitis.
And if you’re a fast walker? Be empathetic of who you’re walking with; they may not be enjoying the experience even if they are smiling!
6) Following The Crowd
Walking in a group is fun, it’s social and there’s safety in numbers. However,you could end up feeling you are not walking your own unique Camino as you are following the speed and dynamics of the group. Courage may be required to step away from the group to walk your own path.
7) Stepping Out From The Present Moment
‘There is no overwhelm when we are fully engaged in the present moment”; fully aware of our thoughts, our actions and not in our head thinking of the past or the future, just enjoying the moment for what it is.
Examples of ‘stepping out from the present moment’ are when we get lost and miss the yellow arrows, we find ourselves talking too much to our companion, we don’t remember anything visually of the day’s journey and we spend the morning thinking of the destination and the comfy bunk bed in which to rest.
One of the learnings from the Camino is that the Camino is the ‘journey and not the destination’. It is being present to the beauty of the landscape and the experiences you create when taking each new step which make your Camino de Santiago journey the special journey that it is. Buen Camino.