How to Mentally Prepare for the Camino

I am going to walk the Camino this fall and am looking forward to the time, the experience, the memories, and the relationships that will be formed.  So I am thinking about how to prepare for the journey on the way to Santiago.  When I think of preparing, I think of three different ways to do that, spiritually, mentally and physically.    So you might ask how do I prepare mentally?  Isn’t that the same as spiritually?  

Well for me not really.  Preparing mentally is about opening the space of of the mind, and preparing spiritually is opening the heart to the “what” and the “why”.  So in getting the mind open I like to think about it as what what to take out first.  So here goes…

Don’t Overplan It – This goes without saying.  Basically, you need a plane flight over and a plane flight back, and some plan to handle re-entry to your day-to-day world.  The rest will be provided for you when get there.  Period.

Don’t Have Any Expectations – There are so many things we can think we are going to get out of this, but the reality is that there is no way to remotely know what will happen.  A beginners mind is in order to stay in a mental space of wonder and curiosity.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself with Too Much Information – We all have a lot of time to read book after book, to look at endless websites, to talk on forums til the cows come home.  The reality of it is that you only need to do as much as is comfortable and be prepared to throw it all out when you take your first step on this massively cool journey.

Don’t Over Think It – So many ways to think about this trip.  The basics are a decent backpack, a comfortable pair of shoes, your toothbrush, and one extra set of clothes.  You literally need that little.  The Camino will provide the rest.

Don’t Pack for the Worst Case Scenario – As a matter of fact, pack for the least case scenario.  I am not kidding that you only need your toothbrush and one extra set of clothes.  We tend to pack our fears so if you are taking it, ask yourself what are you afraid of, and why can’t I get it along the way if I need it.

Don’t Go Overboard Training For It – There are literally hundreds of people that don’t do a darn thing to prepare for the Camino every year that complete the hike stronger than they have ever been.  There are some prudent things we can do help reduce risk of injury that I will cover in my next post, but for now, know it is way easier than you think.

Don’t Plan on Losing Weight While On It – Just in case you are thinking of this one, I wanted to include it.  Do you remember the Dutch character in the movie The Way??  It didn’t work for him and it most likely will not work for you.

Don’t Plan on Finding Your Soulmate On It – This is another one I have seen some misconceptions on.  There is no quicker way to limit your experiences on the Camino than hooking up with a single individual whether it be friend or romantic. Meet as many people as you can and be willing to say goodbye knowing you probably will never see them again.  The tighter you hold on to them, the harder it will be post Camino to let go of them.

I want to thank all of the pilgrims on the Facebook page The American Pilgrims on the Camino for the help they gave me in coming up with this list.  Without generous people like that, I would not be wanting to go back to experience this wonder again.

This walk will do things for you that you cannot imagine so sit back, let the universe take the reins and get ready for the walk of your life!

  1. Well said! Buen Camino!

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  2. I did everything the way you laid it out and you are absolutely right. I did the Frances from sarria in April 2016

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    1. Thank you for your kind words and your validation.

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  3. Thank you, I am currently (not)training for Camino Frances, by not overtraining,overplanning,and overthinking!🌞

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    1. And thank you for your validation!

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  4. Kathy Bonaccorsi July 19, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Dave, I love your writing! I could read and read …
    It does help, I have found, to have an intension. I just finished the GR 65 in France 3 wks ago (CF 2010 & 2014). I had written before leaving in my journal that so wanted to learn … to listen, to see, to hear, to touch, to STOP! And it happened! I walked with someone who actually took vids of snails, and patted every cat (more than you ever thought!), and literally stopped in every church to pray (well, I think we skipped 5!!). While my patience got tested many times, the net affect was/is…I am a changed person! I read my pre-Camino intention and feel such gratitude.

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    1. Thanks Kathy for the kind words! I really like the idea of setting an intention. I am going to write a post about preparing spiritually and I will make sure to include it in that! You have great insight.

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  5. This is amazing advise. Thank you.

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  6. It’s your Camino. Don’t let anyone hijack it!

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  7. I set an intention and then forgot it. At the end of the trip, I found I had met my intention in a completely different way than I’d ever considered. It just fell into place without further thought.

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  8. Carol T Baldwin July 22, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Buen
    Camino Dave.

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  9. thank u for your up lifting thoughts and your writings ..as for me i will start my first camino in sept…everyone’s words and stories have helped me plan what to have or bring or not .everyone has wise words ..i have loved..as for me i will get into my “boat “as one might do and head down stream as following the “yellow arrows”or “shell”and as knowing the currant will guide me on my path ..Buen camino..my friend i hope our paths cross

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    1. Thanks for the kind words Suzanne. I hope we do cross paths. Been Camino my new friend!

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  10. […] For more on how to prepare for the Camino please see my other two articles How to Physically Prepare for the Camino and How to Mentally Prepare for the Camino. […]

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  11. Again thanks for your insights! I loved them all. Reading your words, just makes me so much more excited about my up coming Camino in October.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words. May your trip be filled with many blessings along the way!

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