Walking the Camino de Santiago is on many people’s bucket lists, but a good number of these people are intimidated by the physical and mental demands of walking the full distance. With this in mind, I created the ReConnect with Yourself, with Nature and with Others retreats to offer you the opportunity to first walk a shorter section of the Camino and experience the Camino first-hand: the easy camaraderie between walkers, the breathtaking scenery, the mood-lifting effect of following in the footsteps of walkers who have walked the Camino these last 800 years, sleeping along the way in an ancient French farmhouse and sampling the excellent food of the region, before you commit to walking the full 800+ km of the Camino.
Here in the heart of the Cotes de Gascogne and Armagnac vineyards, you can join a 5/7 day retreat to walk the Camino – not only will it be a unique and unforgettable experience, life-enriching and often life-changing, but you’ll get lots of fresh air and exercise – to walk this shorter section of the Camino you don’t need to be super fit, you just need a pair of well-walked-in walking boots and a pair of silk socks.
Most of us already know that walking can increase our heart and lung fitness, strengthen our bones, reduce excess body fat, improve digestion, increase muscle power and reduce our risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.
But did you know that walking improves not only your physical health but also your mental health?
Walking can make you feel more positive enabling you to handle stressful situations more effectively
Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that spending time in nature substantially decreases the number and frequency of negative thoughts that individuals experience. People who walk for approximately ninety minutes also experience reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness.
Walking without technology can enhance creativity and problem-solving skills
According to a study performed by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David Strayer, connecting with nature as opposed to connecting with technology greatly enhances our creativity. In this study, participants who walked for four days without using any modern technology showed a 50% increase in problem-solving abilities as a result.
Walking improves brain function and prevents memory loss
A study conducted at the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume, which is the section of the brain related to spatial and episodic memory. In other words, walking can prevent memory loss from occurring, in addition to reducing memory loss. Walking can cause the release of endorphins and thus reduce stress and anxiety while enhancing self-esteem.
Attending a Camino walking retreat here in the south of France will enable you to not only get away from the stress caused by this pandemic, allowing you to recharge your batteries, reconnect with nature, unwind and de-clutter your mind, but also to increase your physical fitness without getting exhausted.
On this retreat, you will also discover what walking meditation is, as originally taught by Thich Nhat Hanh – and you’ll have the opportunity to practice it while you are walking the Camino – and find out how walking meditation can help you cope with stress, even if you live in the heart of a crowded city.
If you have lost your way, you’ll find it again on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela
More information about this retreat here: ReConnect with Yourself, with Others and with Nature walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the southwest of France. You can combine this retreat with The New You: Detox Your Mind Detox Your Body with Intermittent Fasting retreat to increase the benefits of this adventure even more.