Sraddhalu Ranade at a beach sunset

Walking the Pilgrim's Trail

Revered travel writer, Pico Iyer, and professor Zoila Mendoza Ph.D. respond how movement can help us to access the sacred.


PHIL: I love the etymology of the word “pilgrim”, it goes back to “per agrum,” which means to walk through the fields. It’s right there embedded in the language that we have to get off the bus.

PICO: (laughs) Yes.

PHIL: Get off the train and actually put the soles of our feet to the soul of the earth so to speak. Is this, dare we say the word a more authentic way to get in contact with the sacred? By slowing down, taking a breath, maybe counting our breaths, in the Buddhist or Hindu tradition, and walking to a sacred place.

PICO: I think it’s safe to say that the sacred moves at the speed of life more than the speed of light. And we’re moving at machine pace now, so you’re just, as you say, going back to the human pace and going back to the human ways of doing things would take us into the sacred.  They say the perfect cure for jetlag is to walk barefoot through grass, fresh grass. I think for that same reason, you’re rooting yourself not in the world of machine, but in the world of timeless humans.

ZOILA: I think the physical and the bodily is really important. It may be my own perspective as a very kinesthetic learner and being and coming from a culture that is very highly kinesthetic. But I think the movement and the walking itself is so - even if it’s just small little steps in a circle in your little room. I think the motion gives you the experience of the mind and body being together, because while you’re moving, your mind is doing something.

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