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How to mentally prepare for the Camino

“My mission is for every Pilgrim who walks the Camino (virtual or actual) to have the life-changing experience they desire, and to be able to take their learnings into their daily life to create whatever fills them with joy, peace, and fulfillment.” ~ Litzi Essler

We often talk about preparing for the Camino physically. In fact, our Camino Fitness Guide and Camino Fitness Plan are specifically tailored for preparing your body.

But what about how to mentally prepare for the Camino? Preparing your mind is equally as important.

What do you want to get out of your Camino? What would you like to achieve? How will you keep motivated along the way?

How to mentally prepare for the Camino

These are just some of the questions Litzi Essler hopes to help you with before you undertake this incredible journey.

Litzi is a Camino coach who wants to mentally prepare pilgrims for their journey ahead.

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Hi Litzi! Tell us a little about your background

My Camino story actually began 5 years ago when at the height of my successful corporate career I suffered a bad mental and physical burnout.

This wake-up call helped me realise I had been so busy walking the well-trodden path that I had convinced myself was expected of me, that I had become deeply disconnected from my body and also from what I truly wanted in my heart. I developed a deep passion for health and wellbeing, and as part of my mission to slow down and live more intentionally, began taking long walks in nature.

Before long I realised that these walks were where I felt most connected to myself, at peace, creative and reflective. I was making better choices and decisions from a place of consideration instead of reaction, with the added benefit of performing better at work. I made small changes in my life that created big results, and also began listening to a quiet but insistent voice from inside me that said “More of this please!”.

I found my choices were inspiring others to make change too and this inspired me to keep going, as it gave me so much energy to see those around me living happier and more fulfilled lives.

What brought you to the Camino?

I actually discovered the Camino after reading the novel Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist, which tells a beautiful story set on the Camino.

As I was reading it, I immediately felt that it was something I had a deep desire to experience. Approaching my 40th birthday, and searching for a special act to mark the occasion, the idea of a Gratitude Pilgrimage came to me, as it would allow me to celebrate the new joy and peace I had created in my life.

Despite never really walking for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time I decided I would complete my Gratitude Pilgrimage the following year. A decision that would change my life.

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Tell us about your Camino journey.

I set off on my Camino from Burgos in May 2019, completing the 500km route to Santiago De Compostela in 19 days.

It is hard to explain how beautiful the journey was both physically and on a deeper more spiritual level.

I hadn’t expected the stunning poppies to be lining the paths from Burgos, and although my feet and legs hurt, I really enjoyed pushing myself on the days I chose to walk further.

I experienced a feeling of being more alive and connected to myself than ever before. I found the simplicity of the Pilgrim life created a sense of freedom that made my heart and soul sing each morning as I set off.

I carried three stones that symbolised the parts of my life I was most grateful for and left them at the Iron Cross on a very cold and misty morning. That, along with arriving in Santiago, was a very special moment for me.

Of course, there were also challenging moments, and in these moments, I learned to trust myself to really listen to my heart and body. Often it was as simple as needing a little more fuel and a short rest and I could continue with a lighter step.

I learned that I would always find a way to keep walking and that I could also rely on the amazing spirit and community of the Camino if I needed help.

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Did the Camino change your life? 

Absolutely! I now consider myself to be a modern-day Pilgrim, and I try to bring the simple teachings from the Camino into everything I do. In fact, I am writing this sitting on a bench in my local woods, as I am always looking for more ways to spend time in nature.

When I returned from the Camino I spent quite a bit of time simplifying my life, and realising that I had everything I needed to be happy at my fingertips, and most of it was free!

It also seeded the thought that my heart and soul were yearning for a different daily way of life, one in which I could feel more free and alive. I was also feeling more and more strongly that I wanted to share the power of the Camino, and help others reconnect to themselves through the experience of a Pilgrimage.

This was when I first really committed to creating my own business (which had been a long-held dream) and which is now a reality.

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What are you doing now for others?

When I returned from the Camino I took some time to crystalise my learnings and reflect on where I could use my strengths to most support Pilgrims.

Whilst I was preparing, I noticed that there is a lot of advice available about how to train your body but not how to prepare your mind.

Many Pilgrims want to have a deeper experience on the Camino. It’s easy to think that transformation and insight will just hit you like lightning as you set foot on this sacred path, but I know that is not how inner transformation usually happens.

In fact, it requires a fine balance of letting the adventure unfold, versus knowing when and how to pause, notice and process what you are experiencing.

My business is centred around my big passion to help those who want to experience transformation through their Pilgrimage prepare themselves to achieve that.

So what services do you offer? 

I offer a full range of services, from simple products such as a specially designed lightweight journal that you can use whilst on your Pilgrimage to help you record and reflect on your journey, to deeper one-to-one coaching and mentoring support.

During the lockdown, I have been running virtual Camino experiences so you can get a taste of the Camino whilst also learning how to build a daily walking practice using walking meditations and small daily tasks that explore the benefits of walking and being in nature.

In addition, as not everyone can travel at the moment I offer a programme where you can design and then experience a Pilgrimage in your local area.

All my services are designed to help you reflect on what you want to get from your Camino, or even your daily walking practice, as well as develop tools that will support you on the journey itself.

My mission is for every Pilgrim who walks the Camino (virtual or actual) to have the life-changing experience they desire, and to be able to take their learnings into their daily life to create whatever fills them with joy, peace, and fulfillment.

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How can our readers get in touch with you?

You can find out more by either visiting my website which is www.litziessler.co.uk or send me an email to [email protected]

If your dream experience doesn’t exist yet I’d love to co-create it with you!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I’m wishing you Buen Camino for your next adventure.

 

If you would like to find out more about walking the Camino in 2021, contact us on the form below and we will be delighted to help you plan the trip of a lifetime:

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