Walking Through The 3 Stages Of Life

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woman walking down road

Taking steps to achieve your goals seems obvious, but this is something people frequently forget, especially when you get busy in life, become impatient, and hurry.

Yet when you have to walk somewhere, you accept that there is no option but to take the journey step by step.

As every achievement in life begins with a single step, each one of the stages of life presents its own beginning and set of goals. When you begin your journey, whether it's physical, mentally, or spiritually, each step you take holds meaning and growth.

So, what can you learn about these stages and what they represent in your life?

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The stages of life, though metaphorical, can be represented by an actual journey you can learn from and use to grow.

In an interview with Journey Navigator founder and author of Your Unique Journey, Gideon Nielsen, he went into the depths of explaining this metaphor for life while walking a five-month journey along the Camino Trail.

The Camino, also known as "The Way of Saint James," is a route undertaken as a religious pilgrimage. It's also used by hikers or considered to be a spiritual retreat from modern life.

Paths commence from all around Europe and the journey can begin from your front door, reaching a finale in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where the apostle Saint James rests in the cathedral.

In a way, walking this trail is a depiction of each stage of life.

It can begin at many points, but where you start changes the length and hardship of your journey.

Nielsen had been on a journey seeking truth from as young an age as five, where he questioned everything.

Having been brought up within a very religious background, something had always felt off and he never quite fit in.

He felt unseen and had a strong pull to find his own truth. He left his home of Denmark when he was 24 with a view to perhaps never return again. He has since traveled the world, never staying in one place for more than 18 months, on a constant adventure of growth and quest for truth.

He has walked The Camino twice before, but in 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, he felt called to travel it a third time, with an even longer journey of 3,500 kilometers.

Nielsen started his journey in Viborg, Northern Denmark, walking typically 20 to 25 kilometers a day, through Germany, Belgium, and France, to reach his destination in Spain. He traveled alone, with a backpack, two walking sticks, and a shell on his back, the symbol of the Camino.

I spoke with him when he was just past three months, over 2,000 kilometers, and two pairs of walking shoes into the journey.

He'd walked most days in conditions of extreme heat, wind, rain, and had to cope with events such as punctured airbeds, collapsing hotel beds, hunting for nightly accommodation and food, all the while still working to earn a living.

When asked how to keep himself motivated despite the challenges, he likened the experience to what he believes to be the 3 stages of life.

1. The physical phase.

This stage is typically the first, and indicative of something in your life that's always there and needs to be done every day. It can be challenging to walk so far, but it's a superficial experience, where you haven’t yet gotten into why you are doing it.

You focus on the pain, the distance traveled, or the destination, while not really experiencing the journey. He went on to explain that for the first two months of his trip, this was the focus and explained that it was more associated with the ego.

The physical phase, if you equate it to your daily life, is one where you're always busy and distracted. You don’t have time to reflect on who you are or look at life in any depth because you're engaged in "doing" most of the time.

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2. The mental phase.

“After working through the pain, it opens you up to starting to understand who you are, how you think, how your thoughts serve you. You start to reflect on your past, what and who has contributed to who you have become,” Gideon explained.

This is more or less the second stage of your journey, when you're becoming aware of things holding you back and those things that serve you well. It's during this time that you've been doing your journey long enough to begin to look inward.

The awareness phase is the gateway to consciousness, where you've had the opportunity to still your mind for long enough to see what’s inside you. Once you see it reflected back, you can then determine what to do with it — embrace it or choose to change.

3. The spiritual phase.

Gideon described this as the period of letting go, of moving beyond acceptance, and starting to release attachments to the past.

“On such a long journey, walking every day, it's impossible to get away from yourself. You have to face yourself and whatever needs to come out, will.”

He went on to describe how he had been very angry in his past, mainly due to never being able to express his feelings, and yet through this long journey by foot, that anger was dissipating as he learned more about himself and released the past.

This stage is a period of unlimited potential and exponential growth if you are open to it. It's a period where you have the opportunity to feel appreciative of what you've experienced and are yet to experience in life.

A phase during which you begin to master the art of surrender and learn to be present. You stop fighting so hard and start "being." You identify with your truth and tap into the collective spiritual truth.

Gideon was called to walk this path, and while he has days that feel heavy and less fun, he assured me that nothing was going to make him stop. There was an energy in his gut that was pulling him in that direction and he was compelled to just go with it to see where it would take him.

Other achievements in his life felt empty in comparison to the growth and degree of fulfillment he was experiencing on his current, albeit challenging journey.

Like Gideon's journey as he walks the Camino, you can experience growth and understanding in any of your stages of life. It's sometimes a lonely and mental challenge, but you can maintain a degree of curiosity about the outcome.

Remember, taking things a step at a time can help keep you grounded in that each day, no matter how long or how far you walk, you'll always arrive at a destination.

For Gideon, this effectively helps him to remain grounded on a daily basis.

“In life," he says, "we are always in a hurry and feel impatient. I have learned that in order to reach my destination without feeling like I cheated, I cannot take any shortcuts. I have to take each and every step, one at a time.”

You can follow Gideon's Journey through his daily videos where he shares his experiences and thoughts. You can certainly learn a lot from a man who will walk almost five-million steps in five months.

Every step in the stages of life is an interplay between mind, body, and spirit, and each is as important as the next. But if you just keep taking them, you'll arrive.

When you ground yourself into the present moment, remove the distractions, and release the past, the future holds true promise.

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Rana Al-Falaki is a life coach and author of Women Who Want More: How to Create a Balanced and Fulfilled Life. For more information on how to strengthen these areas of your life, email her for a copy of her Boundaries Toolkit.