Reflection: Intuitive or Learned?

It’s hard to believe that we returned back home from the Camino just two months ago today. Life certainly has been busy upon our return and sometimes the Camino seems like it was a lifetime ago. However, each time I get asked, “How was your trip?” it all comes flooding back. Images…stories…emotions. I even have had dreams about being back on the Camino. That’s when I know I’m still processing my journey.

Reflection was a big part of my Camino, and it has continued to be a part of my life back home. One huge difference in my reflecting back home is that I have to be intentional. Being at home does not lend itself to deep reflection. Life’s responsibilities are overwhelming and take up so much of our time. Therefore, I have to set time to reflect, to be present, and even to decide what needs my attention most. This intentionality has led to some insights about the act of reflecting for me.

One very important element of reflecting is being able to look back. In order to understand our present, we must look to our past. On the Camino, there were times that I would turn around after walking for a while and in doing so, I would see the most amazing sunrise or landscape. Each time, it made me think how much more I appreciated that look back versus when I just walked straight through that sight. This is similar to how we live life. We have moments that we do not stop and think about, and we miss their significance in our present lives. Making time to do that look back has helped me realize that I want to create part of my Camino experience in my life here at home. I’m working though that as I write this piece.

On our first Camino day, we crossed the Pyrenees mountains to get to Spain from France. As we were climbing, we only could see what was in front of us, and to be honest, it was just the trail. It wasn’t until after we stopped and turned around that we saw the beauty of everything we had walked up to that point. It was breath taking.

Reflecting should also be weightless. When we actively reflect on experiences or situations, it allows us to hold those thoughts outside of ourselves. Just the thought of walking 500 miles is daunting, but when we broke it down to smaller lengths, 12-17 miles each walking day, the weight of fear of not being able to accomplish such a feat was tempered. Keeping the task of the day as just a piece of the greater goal and reflecting on how to manage that day’s walk was weightless. My goal at home is to focus my reflection on small changes as opposed to looking at the bigger picture. There’s only so much I can manage or can control at one time. “Keep it weightless” is my mantra.

Whenever we stopped when we walked, we were able to take off our little packs and just rest. Although we were not carrying big packs, we could feel the weightlessness when we liberated ourselves from our packs. It allowed us to tap into how we were feeling physically and mentally.

A topic of conversation between Jim and I since we returned from the Camino is whether reflecting is a practice or a mental muscle we are born with, hence the title of this blog. Are people able to reflect because it’s intuitive or because they have learned how to do it? Are some of us hard-wired to reflect and others not? Based on my own personal experience, I don’t believe reflecting is intuitive. It is a learned practice that requires curiosity, honesty, and courage to accept the answers to whatever questions or thoughts we ponder. Reflection can be transformative to our lives, to how we live and approach it. Change can only happen when we can identify what we want or need. Reflecting can help us gain that clarity that can lead us to the change we’re seeking.

Clarity is not always present at first, similar to the fog we encountered on our first day on the Camino.
But when we give ourselves enough time to reflect, our haziness clears up, just like it did later on our first day.

As this year comes to a close, Jim and I sit in gratitude for our Camino journey and for all our family and friends who have cheered us on. Both Jim and I wish you a safe, peaceful, and healthy holiday season. May 2023 be a year of transformative reflection for us all!

Here’s to 2023!

2 responses to “Reflection: Intuitive or Learned?”

  1. Great food for thought, Kathy. Thanks for helping me think differently about reflection. I do agree – I think it’s a learned skill and it takes desire and effort. It also takes a willingness to follow where the reflections may lead…at least be open to the lessons and ideas that might come from the reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wise words Kathy and a very good practice we all should include into our fail life. One of the things I appreciate most about you two is how you continue to grow as human beings from your experiences and become an even better version of yourselves. It is something I strive for as well. Claudia’s and my shared experiences of Mendocino is a part of us now and we feel that we have grown from the experience. That our life is so much richer. It’s exciting to look ahead for coming year but we should reflect on the year past with gratitude. Look forward to gathering again soon!


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