In Awareness There is No Desire For Perfection
Awareness isn’t about needing to be perfect, since there is nothing in which to excel.
This means that in awareness there is no striving, there is no righteousness, there is no reward, there is no obstacle.
One of the few times in my life where I felt totally free of the need to strive for excellence and perfection was when I walked the Camino de Santiago. Walking by myself I was free to walk as fast or as slow as I wanted. I could walk as far or as little as I desired and since I was only carrying a 10kg pack, what I wore was limited to two choices. Having spent over a year preparing meant both my body and gear were able to deal with any terrain or weather. I didn’t have to strive for perfection or excellence. There was no ‘doing it’ right or wrong, and no need for reward. I would just wake up each day, dress, eat and walk. I would decide how far I might go, but could walk less or more depending on how I was feeling. Imagine if you can, living life in a similar manner.
Over the first quarter of the Camino, pilgrims are dealing with their bodies trying to adjust to walking 20 to 30km a day. Blisters, heavy back packs, different food, language etc. Lots of distractions. It’s where expectations meet reality. Just as you have brought that under control you enter the Meseta, between Burgos and Astorga. This is a plateau of about 140km that offers no distractions, other than the evening reprieve of a small village, a meal, the company of other pilgrims and somewhere to sleep. Some people choose to avoid walking this part of the Camino, catching a bus from Burgos to Leon, because of it’s reputation for being ‘boring’ and mentally challenging. Devoid of distractions your mind gets to come to the fore, and if you can imagine, you spend the next few days walking with your mind. And do you think it will shut up?
You question the value of your life. Have I been good or bad? Have I made the most of it? What could I do better? Guilt and shame. Judgement and disappointment. By this time, even the tiniest flower becomes a welcome relief from the mental inquisition. The city of Leon becomes the oasis in this ocean of void. Somewhere between Leon and Astorga it stopped. It may have been where the man was giving free tea and biscuits to pilgrims, out in the middle of nowhere. He’s there every day, it’s his ‘calling’.
Here, I began to be more aware of my thoughts. Up until now I was swimming in my murky thought pool, and suddenly I hopped out of the pool and was standing on the edge looking on. I realised that all of the feelings that had accompanied the thoughts were no longer being experienced and the weight of the thoughts had fallen away. I could see them and their attached feelings but it was as if I was reading a newspaper about someone else’s life. I became completely free, just like the RedBull® ad I had wings. In fact the Irish blessing ‘may the road rise to meet you’ became my reality. I walked 50km the next day. I could have walked more except I ran out of light. If you had told me anytime previous to that day that I could walk 50km, I would have asked you what you were smoking.
Having embraced being the observer of my thoughts and feelings, I also became the observer of my physical reality too, and instead of being in the walk with all of its challenges and obstacles I stood ‘outside’ of the walking experience, nearly as if I could fly. In fact this 50km part of the Camino covered one of the higher altitudes found on the whole walk, and even that wasn’t an obstacle.
When we get caught up in the need to be perfect and to excel, when we feel the need to strive and to seek the reward. When we are driven to do it right, and to overcome all obstacles, we are like pilgrims caught up in the walk of life. What if you could become the witness, the observer of your life? What if the road of your life rose to meet your feet and support you instead of having you trudging and dragging your feet through the dust and mud. Being aware and therefor mindful sets us free to experience life with the wind behind our back and with the road rising to meet us. The key is that you still have to walk, it’s just easier when you do it with wings!
This is the final instalment in our awareness series. We would love to hear your thoughts about any of the content we have covered over the last 5 blogs. Please feel free to share your own experiences or enquire if you would like to know more about a certain topic in the comments section below.
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Read More From This Series
Understanding Awareness Part 1 - In Awareness Nothing Has A Meaning Or Value
Understanding Awareness Part 2 - In Awareness There Is No Reaction
Understanding Awareness Part 3 - In Awareness There Is No Fear
Understanding Awareness Part 4 - In Awareness There Is No Guilt or Grief