While there is no doubt a spiritual pilgrimage can do magic things to guide us, the same mindset can be applied to a relationship—with incredible results.
Millions of people take spiritual and religious pilgrimages every year to the Ganges River, Mecca, the Golden Temple, Saint Peter‘s Bascilica, and other holy places. During such pilgrimages, people walk miles for days or even weeks—such as those who walk the Camino de Santiago, in Spain. Others take months or even years to live in Ashrams or follow spiritual gurus in order to gain wisdom, understanding, connection and healing.
All of these are powerful and life-changing opportunities for personal growth and development.
But what if you could take a pilgrimage right from your own home?
What if you could gain deep personal and spiritual wisdom, grow your connection (with yourself, your partner and your Higher Power), and further your own healing…while sleeping in your own comfy bed at night.
I think that you can.
Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote about his own journey on the Camino in the widely-read book, The Pilgrimage. In interviews, Coelho talks about how he engages every day of his life as a fresh and new experience…with untold opportunities along the way (even when just traveling to the grocery)…much like when on pilgrimage.
It may not be as exotic or sexy or arouse the same interest in dinner party conversation, but bringing a pilgrimage mindset to your relationship or marriage can change your life.
A pilgrimage is defined as: “a long journey to a sacred place“. Hmm…sounds a bit like a committed relationship to me.
If you have ever taken a retreat, a weekend workshop, or visited your own holy place on a spiritual quest, than you have an understanding of what a pilgrimage requires.
Bringing the Pilgrimage Mindset to Your Relationship
1. Pack Your Flexibility
When you travel on retreat or pilgrimage the expectation is that plans need to be flexible. What you expect to happen… well, it may not happen at all. And in fact, all kinds of things can go “wrong” along the way and often do. Luggage is lost, iPhones stolen, reservations misplaced and agendas misaligned. And yet…this is all part of the adventure of travel.
When you engage deeply with your flexibility it serves you (and your traveling companions) richly. At those moments (and we all have those moments!) when your flexibility is being stretched, this is your moment for personal growth, expansion and healing.
Whether you are sitting across from a therapist in an office or stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire in France, the moment old reactive patterns flare up is the moment when you get to choose to engage differently. And making a new choice rather than a reactive choice is what constitutes healing—you don‘t have to be in a special place to get it.
2. Bring Your Curiosity
Traveling to new destinations can awaken a natural sense of curiosity and wonder. Everything from the fragrance of the air when you walk out of an airport to the sounds of insects in the trees feeds a visceral part of your humanity.
Sometimes it is easier to be open to these experiences when you travel or are on retreat because the rushy-routine of everyday life is not present. But, bringing curiosity into your everyday relationships (and your life!) is a huge game changer! Curiosity allows each day, each moment to be alive and new which supports healthy anticipation and desire.
Note: It can be hard to feel curiosity (at home or abroad) when you are feeling angry, scared and hurt. You have to be willing to do some of your own inner work and practice some new tools with your partner to heal these stuck places of discomfort.
3. Be Open To Learn…About Yourself and Others
Travel affords the opportunity to learn about other cultures, lands, practices, foods and languages. For many, when they get that passport stamped, it is an agreement to engage with a new perspective, employ a bit more patience, and try something new for the duration of their stay.
Imagine, having that same agreement with your partner!
Many of us do have that agreement in the early days of relationship. You agree to be curious, patient and understanding as you learn about the culture of your partner—their likes and dislikes, the subtleties and overtures that make them who they are. Often, in the early days of relationship, you might relish in this newness and the happy differences between the two of you.
But eventually it may feel like your visa expires.
After a period of time, this foreign land that you call your partner might feel too different. It might feel like too many compromises and now, you are ready to go back to your native tongue and for things to feel more familiar.
Learning to maintain a sense of openness to continue to learn about your partner and yourself years and decades in to your relationship is the long-term pilgrimage that we call commitment. Understanding that your individual and collective landscape will (and should!) change and grow over time is vital in maintaining a healthy union with one another.
Employing flexibility, curiosity and openness will keep your relationship strong but will also protect against boredom and complacency (kryptonite to a relationship!). Valuing the journey of your relationship rather than the destination of your relationship can allow you to be on your own “long journey to the sacred” for many years to come.
[image: via Greg Willis on flickr]