The easiest part of any pilgrimage is planning the physical aspects. However, no one can prepare you for the emotional and spiritual upheaval that a pilgrimage brings - the struggles, the fears, the disappointments. What we know for sure is that they all serve our spiritual growth. There are no easy answers, no lists to check off, no preparation for the state-of-being that is a "pilgrim". A pilgrimage is a personal journey, and as unique as the pilgrim walking it.
What we offer you here are a few insights, some reflections, with the hope that they assist you in your spiritual quest and guide you towards your own truth. At times, the advice may seem contradictory, but there is truth in contradiction. Allow your intuition to be your guide.
- Always remember - you are protected and guided on your journey. Trust completely in this, above all other things.
- As Paolo Coelho so eloquently states in The Alchemist - "when you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." Invisible forces move to help you, and seemingly impossible events begin to occur. That is the magic of the way.
- Surrender. That's probably the hardest element. In a world where we are accustomed to planning every aspect of our lives, the notion of surrendering control is downright frightening. When we did our initial calculations, we thought we could arrive in Jerusalem in six months. We did not factor in the draining effects of our emotional state, the days when we just didn't feel like getting out of bed, the days when the thought of one more step slowed us down. We especially didn't take into account being led to people and situations that would mark an important exchange, one that usually impacted the spiritual journey of all involved. Surrendering a time and goal-driven pilgrimage and simply enjoying the way are difficult to do, but infinitely rewarding.
- Trust. That's probably the second hardest element because it's intimately connected to surrender. It is not only an action but an attitude. Trust in yourself, and in others. Trust in life. Trust that all will be well, even if in the most difficult situations. Trust that all serves a Higher Loving Purpose, even when you can't explain it or see it. Trust your intuition, not only your mind. Trust in the visible and the invisible.
- Allow yourself to be guided. Allow the invisible hand of the Universe, God, Allah, Life, the Creator, Source, Higher Self - whatever label you wish to use - to guide you. Your intuition is God's vehicle. So are coincidences, providential meetings, synchronicities, signs. God is speaking to you at all times. When you are able to surrender the logic of your mind, you can begin to hear the whisper of your intuition.
- Don't worry about the future or lament the past. Live totally in the present. Make only the essential and immediate plans, and trust that if any problem or unexpected situation appears, you will be able to resolve it in that moment. Remember that the Universe perfectly knows what your wishes are; from its greater perspective, it also knows how to best bring them to you. Again, surrender and trust. Be alert to signs. And when the moment arrives - and you will know when that moment is - act.
- Be open to the unexpected. Within that experience may lie the seed of a valuable gift or lesson.
- Walk without expectation. Oftentimes, people and situations didn't live up to our ideals of them; in our disappointment and frustration, we judged them and blamed them for our suffering. We worked hard to release our expectations and judgments, and tried to walk in gratitude and acceptance.
- Don't take rejections personally. It only means that you're supposed to be somewhere else, and that something better is waiting for you.
- Difficult people and experiences reveal your deepest fears and wounds, and are opportunities for tremendous healing and spiritual growth - yours and the Universe's.
- In healing yourself, you are healing others. In healing others, you are healing yourself. That is because we are all one. What you do for yourself, you do for others, and vice versa.
- If you are continually encountering difficult people or situations, it is likely that you have certain beliefs about the situation, or fears and judgments, that you need to look at. You are a powerful creator. Your thoughts and beliefs are like a magnet, attracting what you believe. You can create in the negative as well as in the positive. Replace destructive thoughts with positive ones; criticisms of yourself and others with tolerance and understanding that each is in a process of growth; gloomy predictions of the future with hopeful ones. Do whatever it takes to emotionally disengage from the negative drama, and focus on FEELING GOOD.
- Corollary - if you believe that people are good, then you will find good people, and vice versa. Seeking the goodness in people is an active effort, and not always an easy one. Remember that inside every one of us resides the Loving Source of All That Exists. People simply forget that, or are simply unaware that this is their true essence. When you remember that, and seek that light in each person and situation, you will draw it to you.
- Be thankful - for EVERY THING that happens to you. Gratitude is possibly the most powerful gift you can offer yourself and the Universe, and is the magic elixir for attracting more of what you want into your life.
- BEING peace, love, patience, tolerance or any attribute you desire is often more difficult than DOING those attributes. DOING with intention and awareness will bring you to the state of BEING you desire.
- You are on an initiatic journey. A journey of self discovery and growth. Be patient with yourself. Love yourself. You deserve it. You need it.
- Above all... Enjoy the journey! Relax. Smile in appreciation. Share your joy. It will lift others and bring you closer to your Jerusalem.