I must listen to my life telling me who I am."
- Parker J. Palmer
What is a pilgrimage?
In today's world, pilgrimage has taken on new meanings for those who may or may not identify with a particular faith tradition. Millions of people increasingly identify as "spiritual but not religious" or may classify themselves as "nones," no religion at all. But at the same time, an estimated 300 to 330 million "spiritual tourists" visit significant religious sites every year. Why is this? What are they looking for?
They're looking for different things: from reclaiming a faith long abandoned, to hopes for healing, or clarity around an overwhelming decision. People today, just as much as at any point in history, are looking for something more than the status quo when the status quo can no longer sustain their lives. They're searching for new perspectives, relief from unending busyness, and deeper and more meaningful connections to themselves and their work. They want to encounter a simpler way to be in an increasingly complicated, and an ever more rapidly changing, world. They're hoping to go away on a journey that will bring them back to some greater sense of what it means to be at home in this life.
“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.”
- Abraham Joshua Heschel
Tips for taking an everyday pilgrimage
1.) Set an intention for the day. Take a few minutes in the morning to withdraw and reflect on how you want to participate in this day. What's most important for your journey at work? What's been calling for your attention at home? What's something you would like to practice doing today (being grateful, less reactive, more open to change, etc.)? You can pray, meditate, or read something inspirational to help you gain clarity on your highest intention for the day.
2.) Be open to new perspectives. Sometimes having it all figured out keeps us stuck on the path. Try to let go of old ideas and familiar mental stories about work and home life. Allow new ideas and insights to come to you as you look for things you may have been missing. Challenge yourself to stay open minded and courageous as you face the day willing to learn something new.
3.) Go out of your way to help others. Sacrifice is part of any pilgrimage, and helping others is one way to live out this part of the daily journey. Notice small opportunities to practice random acts of kindness, from opening a door, saying "hi" as you walk past a stranger, or making the extra effort to really listen to someone else without just waiting for your chance to respond.
4.) Reflect on the journey so far. Take a few minutes towards the middle of the day to check in and see how you're doing up to now. Do you remember your intention? Are you staying open to new perspectives? Have you been helpful to others? Use this step as a milestone to measure how far you've come, and how you plan to continue with the journey ahead.
5.) Be prepared to find what you're looking for. Each day is filled with meaningful encounters and life-changing moments, if you're ready to see them. Expect that the pain, frustration, or sadness that you have been experiencing is leading to a greater purpose. Pain has been cleansing you of what you thought could bring you lasting happiness. Anger has been burning through your misunderstanding. Tears have been clearing the way for new living waters. Always be ready to find what you've been seeking.
6.) Bringing the journey back home. Before bed, reflect on highlights from the day. What did you learn? What went well? What didn't? What's different now? How does this change your life at work and home? Whatever you experience, allow it to change you a little at a time for the journeys to come.
Charles Gosset is a Certified Professional Life and Leadership Coach (CPC) and founder of Full Integration Coaching, LLC. He helps big-hearted people with huge drive lead exceptional lives. You can find out more about him and the transformational services he offers by visiting: www.fullintegrationcoaching.com.