For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Coming To Our Senses

I haven't read a book in ages. Which is odd for me as I'm a bookaholic. On the Camino I felt like reading hardly anything at all, except my guide book - though, as you know, I was inspired to do a bit of writing. Being bombarded with Spanish all the time could be wearisome - especially since I have no confident grasp of the language. So, for a time, I turned away from the written word, and looked for hidden, unwritten words in outer and inner landscapes, words skulking behind situations and moods, words haunting broken conversations. And often I sank for days into the mire, or the nirvana, of the word-less, which was sometimes scary, and sometimes liberating and peaceful.

But I knew that I would always come back to words, for I love them, and I try to make sense of the world through them. (Though I'm aware, like all instruments of interpretation and perception, words are only a partial way of embracing 'What Is'.) The wonder of words and language is one of our greatest wonders. Words and language make us human.

Needing to engage again with a good, fat book, I picked up Jon Kabat-Zinn's Coming To Our Senses, and I'm very glad I did. There's a saying about the Camino that it doesn't always give you what you want, but it does gives you what you need. Well, I wasn't really sure I wanted to read this book - dammit, it's 600 pages of dense text! - but, sure as hell, I probably do need it right now.

At one time I used to sell a lot of 'Mind, Body and Spirit' titles, various 'alternative', left-field books, and other assorted esoterica to bookshops in the UK, so I've a general, if superficial, knowledge of the subject. In this area it can be difficult locating the diamonds in the dross, separating the charlatans from the real gurus, telling apart those with true spiritual insight from those with just a secular yen to be on Oprah and earn lots of lovely dollars.

Truth to tell, since I came back to England I haven't felt very well for one reason or another. But I feel this might be the very book to banish those post-Camino blues. It's about mindfulness, meditation, Buddhism, awareness, happiness, healing, lovingkindness, yoga, freedom - and anything and everything that's part of the human soma and psyche. Perhaps in reading it I may at last come to some small understanding of my recent, difficult Camino...

4 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

Hope the book helps. Maybe you just got too wet.

I stumble from mini crisis to mini crisis...often not telling anyone at all. Sometimes the crises only last a short time (really short!)...sometimes a little longer.

Deep breathing and putting one foot back in front of the other is certainly one way to feel better. And love. And books. And music. Do you ever do any singing?

x

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, all those things save us.

I used to sing in a choir a long time ago, and loved it (Handel's Messiah and such). I also used to sing folk songs and some of my own songs while strumming a few chords on my guitar (not in public!) until my guitar got smashed. Have been told my voice is not too bad by a few kindly though misguided people.

Well into the book. It is fantastic.

Gail in Aberdeen said...

Just to let you know that I've been following your blog intermittently for a while now, and always appreciate the thoughtfulness and sanity I find here.
Thanks,
Gail.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Gail!