João Perre Viana is the mastermind behind the Walking Mentorship program, an innovative one-week experience that helps people face their personal and professional challenges while taking a 120-kilometer (74.5-mile) hike along the Camino de Santiago.
"The purpose of this methodology is to help gain perspective on what is important (both personally and professionally), update our reality maps, and create an action plan for the future," Viana says.
On Sunday, August 28, Viana embarked on his latest hike. Over the course of this week, he will be updating us daily about the journey he and his participants are on. Read the first post in the series here. - Ed. Note.
I'm not a specialist in physics or spatial science, but I've always enjoyed the opportunity to think about and reflect on the relation between time and speed, a notion (at least for me) in permanent mutation.
The Walking Mentorship group meet today for the first time; our gathering point was at the Santiago de Compostela train station.
From there, we took the fast connection to Ourense, which is the starting point of our journey tomorrow.
From the initial oddity of getting acquainted with one another – none of us knew each other until this precise moment – we swiftly moved toward our official kickoff and the first exercise of the program, which was to be completed in pairs during our train trip.
Our theme for the first day was slowing down and focusing on the present moment. For that reason, we spent this day learning about one another and sharing different layers of ourselves. The main objective of our first day was to give each one of us the opportunity to adjust to a new dynamic and the different intensities with which we live each new hour.
Our first metaphor of the day was related to speed and time. Think about this:
The trip from Santiago to Ourense takes approximately 35 minutes by train. Once we start our hike, it will take us six days to cover the same distance walking back to the starting point. It is exactly the same route and pretty much the same number of kilometers, but the experience is totally different.
Besides the obvious reason – the speed of the train – why do you think the experience is so different?
Can you relate this thought experiment to your life? What can you learn from it? Is there a way to slow down time? How long does one minute take if it's charged with love, curiosity, and an openness to discovery and learning?
Now, how long does one minute take when it is full of routine and boredom, spent inside a mind shut off to novelty?
When the day came to an end, while we were seated near the Ourense Cathedral, I started thinking to myself while I looked at the faces of my fellow wanderers.
One day lived to the fullest potential is worth more than 100 days empty of life. Maybe the secret to living longer, more fulfilling minutes is related to our capacity to continually open ourselves to whatever life places in front of us and learn from it the best we can.
It is time to sleep, but first I will savor every moment shared with my walking friends: the old town stroll, the visit to the magnificent ninth-century cathedral, the dip into the Burga de Abajo thermal spring, the incredible dinner, and above all, the notion that time can expand and become Time.
Tomorrow, we walk.
Ultreia et Suseia,
Photos from Day 1:
João Perre Viana founded the Walking Mentorship program.