Walking Meditation: Being Present and Being Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago
Author(s)Alison T. Smith
KeywordsSantiago de Compostela
the Camino Francés
Thich Nhat Hahn
Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
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AbstractThe Camino de Santiago has witnessed an unprecedented number of walkers in recent years. Traditionalists feel that the Camino is suffering from excess—too many visitors and too much strain on the infrastructure, accompanied by an ignorance of what it means to be an “authentic” pilgrim. Contemporary pilgrims often use ancillary services to transport their bags, approaching the Camino as an athletic event or a holiday excursion. For scholars and people of faith, these superficial attitudes to the ancient pilgrimage route are disturbing. How can serious pilgrims make peace with those who have neither the historical nor the religious background to understand the magnitude of their endeavor? Vietnamese Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn offers us the practice of walking meditation as a means of being present. I believe that pilgrims can benefit from studying the principles of walking meditation as it is observed in the Buddhist tradition. Pilgrims of all faiths and backgrounds can make use of Thich Nhat Hahn’s practice to enhance their experience. Travelers who incorporate the custom of walking meditation may find common ground. Certainly, those who choose to do walking meditation while on pilgrimage will be more mindful of their journey.