Carter Miles, one of our SoHo family and team member, has been on quite an adventure. He departed a few months ago to see the world and walk the Camino. Here's an excerpt from his blog on what he's been up to while walking.
Raw by Carter Miles • September 3, 2017
Raw – the only word I feel I can accurately use to describe my Camino thus far. Raw in the sense that I don’t understand all the energy and all the sensations that have been rising within me. I have no/only a slight unifying idea to connect the thoughts floating through my mind to my experiences. There has been pain and love, doubt and confidence, fear and pride, stress and peace and they have all come to life in an outward physical expression, without my understanding of them being those sensations. They keep presenting themselves as real problems or facts of life to which I must respond. These sensations without understanding are heavy, they choke me mentally and weigh my body down making it hard to take each next step Raw, energetic experience is what I have met on the Camino and now that I am starting to understand it as such, I realize that is exactly what I came out here for. I just was not equipped to digest it.
2 Months from home
It’s been just over two months since I left my home in California for my great adventure. First spending a week romancing in Toronto, then 3 weeks working, teaching yoga and preparing to embark in Woodstock, NY. I arrived in Spain on August 2nd and have been here in for over a month. I started the Camino in France on August 6th and have been walking almost every day since.
The Camino is a challenge and every day it presents itself differently. The 1st few steps out of bed are almost unbearable, I cringe at the knees trying to take some pressure out of those first steps. Every morning the body is tight, but it warms up quick enough when you get walking. The mornings are always cold enough to see your breath, but too dark to see the path. The stars still shine bright in the sky, not yet masked by the sun’s light. The sunrise brings a (literally) warm welcome about 2 hours into the day. Then it gets hot when the sun is high in the sky. There have been days, 95 degrees without a cloud in the sky, walking 15 miles through desert without any present shade, I wrap my scarf around my head for respite. Arriving at the final town I am usually limping again. After 6-7 hours of walking, carrying 20% of my body weight on my back, some part of my legs gives out. But, 28 days later, they are stronger, I feel lighter and my mind is becoming quieter.
How can I explain?
How can I explain this energetic mess inside me that I don’t fully understand? I think I have forced some sort of change to take place within, I can feel it still in it’s raw form. I still don’t understand it so I won’t be able to explain it to you. The fact I am able to write about it with any clarity at all though tells me that my mind is somewhat in the right place. Many days when I try to write, nothing of substance comes out, I may not fully understand it until I arrive in Santiago, maybe not until much later. These sensations, this energy, however is starting to crystallize into a mental form which I can describe with some accuracy through linguistic symbols.
One aspect of this change is my responding to these sensations which I am experiencing. The sensations of pain most specifically. This Camino has been painful for my body, mind and heart since day one and for the last 3+ weeks. I realized early on that when I experience pain, my response is to quit, to do what I can to avoid the pain. I also realized that if this is the case that pain is leading my life, not me, not my will or my desires to create anything, only to escape pain. So one important aspect of my Camino is to experience the pain and push through it regardless. To set myself down a path and follow through to the end regardless of the difficulties that present themselves on the way. If I cannot do that now, I will never be able to.
The Camino has also reminded me of the reason I had originally for doing my yoga teacher training. I wanted to run away, I wanted to travel (I call it running away, but towards something rather than away from it) and I wanted a practice that I could take with me wherever I go to keep my body healthy and my mind sane. The Camino is testing my ability to apply all the things I have learned. Physically it beats my body up every day, energetically it drains me and it has stripped away almost every mental comfort. I have forced myself into a position where I have to ask myself, “How can I continue?” What actions do I have to take to be able to continue without drowning in the pain of the experience. It all sounds very dramatic, but such has been the nature of my experience around others for whom the Camino has seemed to be only slightly more demanding than a short walk. I have the tools to take care of my being, will I apply them? I’ve been doing yoga every day after I’m done walking to repair my body for the next day and I’ve been teaching the other Peregrinos (pilgrims) how to do the same. Every day we lie out on the grass and stretch, compress, twist, expand and roll out our bodies with massage therapy balls.
“Walking with faith”
I set out on the Camino with the idea to “walk with faith” not quite knowing what that meant. My original idea was to walk the Camino without spending any money, having faith that I will be okay, that I will find food and help along the way. I got the idea from the Kindness Diaries and figured that is how one “tests faith.” I quickly learned how far out of my comfort zone that was going to be, I scrapped that idea day one. I still ask though, what is faith and what does it mean to live with it? I am starting to understand. At the moment, for me, living with faith has been putting myself into situations outside of 1.My comfort zone and 2. My conceptual understanding, but pushing through the dark and the thick and the challenges and the pain regardless. My Camino, while less extreme than my previous idea, is still way outside of my comfort zone physically and mentally and the results, the gain from it is not something I understand fully yet. There have been a few places which I have place my faith, which when my mind gets dark and the days get hard, keep me walking. The idea of the Camino and what it does to people, thousands of people walk this Camino every year and speak of the great personal changes that occur in the process. This feeling inside me of energy stirring and maybe a change coming, a light at the end of the tunnel. The ideas of Tapasia, straightening through fire, that hard work builds character, discomfort leads to learning and growth. Lastly and probably most importantly, a voice inside my head that told me “you will get what you are seeking in Santiago,”whatever that thing may be. I put my faith in that voice because I believe it was my higher self speaking to me and maybe for the first time I heard it. I know not what I am going towards, but I believe it is better than what I am leaving behind.
4 Days Left
I have 4 days left until I arrive at Santiago de Compostela, I have walked over 680km and am within the last 100km. After the first day I never thought I would make it this far. I have quit multiple times, but am still walking strong. 4 days from today I will be arriving in Santiago, then making my way to Kathmandu Nepal to recover, explore the city/the people and hopefully obtain my Indian visa so I can go and study the yogic life.
If you can and are willing to help me finance this crazy, energetic whirlwind of an adventure that has already taught me so much, please follow this link:
(I appreciate you already)