I have been working on a research project that explores my attempt at practicing mindfulness while trekking the Camino de Santiago for 4 weeks in June, 2016.
Camino de Santiago
What is the Camino de Santiago? The Camino is a 500-mile pilgrimage in northern Spain that reportedly follows the route taken by St. James the apostle 2,000 years ago. Trekkers take this journey for several reasons: spiritual or religious, cultural, physical, personal and others. I took this journey it to learn how a mindful practice while trekking impacts the experience. This blog is a way for me to share my experience, reflections, findings and interpretations.
I solo-trekked 460 miles in 4 weeks averaging 15 miles a day. This involved walking for 21 days and riding a rented bike for 4 days. I stayed in albergues (hostels) every night, which made it an inexpensive (10 euros) and fun communal experience (5-10 bunk beds per room).
The trek wound through medieval villages and remote countrysides.
I witnessed impressive art & interesting architecture
I experienced expansive vistas and stunning views.
The Research Project
The research methodology I am using is an autoethnography, which uses self-reflection (journaling, photography) to explore a personal experience (trekking the Camino) while connecting it to a broader social context (mindfulness). My data collection methods involved writing in my journal and taking photos with my iPhone, which I then posted on www.instagram.com/peterjcormier
This project is in the very early stages. I’ve used several data analysis coding techniques to explore the data in my journal including
- Descriptive Coding (using a noun to describe meaning)
- Values Coding (categorizing data into values, attitudes and beliefs)
- In Vivo Coding (lifting actual words or phrases from the data)
- Themeing (categorizing the data into obvious and underlying meanings)
An Arts-Based Inquiry
Art-based research is a form of qualitative research, which uses one or more art forms to interpret the data. The art forms that may be utilized in this effort include dance, music, literature, visual art, drama or poetry.
In her book, Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice, author Patricia Leavy (2009) explains why poetic inquiry is a useful interpretive approach.
Poems are highly attentive to space (which includes breath and pauses), using words sparsely in order to paint what I term a feeling picture. Put differently poems use words, rhythm, and space to create sensory scenes where meaning emerges from the careful construction of both language and silences. In this way, a poem can be understood as evoking a snippet of human experience that is artistically expressed as in a heightened state. (2007, p. 64)
I used poetry and the results of In Vivo coding to interpret 2 short reflections on mindfulness I found in my journal. This yielded the following poem, which has recently become my mantra. Reading it helps me practice mindfulness, which is made more special by bringing to mind, the many different experiences that marked my Camino journey.
Here and Now.
Try not to overthink.
Don’t miss this opportunity.
Instead, just be. Embrace it, this moment.
That is the secret.
You understand. You always have.