Walking Off Trauma And Old Hurts With The Deep Walking Experience

Health And Wellness

On one of my pilgrimage walks, I asked a woman why she had come all the way from Australia to take a 500-mile walk on the Camino in northwestern Spain. “I just need to walk off things,” she replied.

Walking “things off” is an ancient tradition that is being rediscovered by a growing number of people seeking ways of transmuting trauma that often lies submerged in the subconscious only to resurface at a defining moment in life.

Trauma is stored in body tissue

We know from many studies that our bodies remember the trauma and abuse that is stored in muscles and fascia. If not dealt with they can steadily erode the body’s immune system. 

On my own pilgrimage walks, I have discovered that the body goes through three stages of emotional and physical walls. The pilgrims describe the first stage as “walking a crucifixion” with the body in much pain from having to adapt to daily walks of 15-17 miles a day.

Dealing with loneliness

The second stage is the emotional roller-coaster when the deeper underlying issues start surfacing. Emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, and sadness are common. Intense dreams relating to events going back many years could surface. The experience can be so intense that I have seen people breaking off their walk. It is a real challenge to confront the long hours of loneliness and the introspection that comes with it.

On my own walks, I suddenly remembered events from my childhood that I had banished from memory. Going through this dark tunnel, however, is a necessary precondition for the third stage of what the pilgrim calls “the resurrection” or the healing spiritual dimension.

The “spiritual experience”

In walking the “resurrection” you forget time and space. The “out of body experience” comes with a lightness of walk and joyful bliss that can only be fully appreciated after having gone through the two earlier stages.

It is during this last stage that elevation of consciousness takes a leap. The “spiritual experience” can only be felt individually and can be so deep that pilgrims have difficulty putting it into words.

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The process of “walking things off” however has many multi-dimensional facets of healing. Dealing with trauma, sadness, and loss is a process that is probably never fully complete. Reconnection with the natural walking rhythm not only soothes body and mind but helps find purpose and meaning in the losses and hurts from the past.