What it Means to Journey Within: The Inner Pilgrimage

The inner pilgrimage. I often speak about this idea or notion, but what does it actually mean? Today’s article is an attempt to demystify the notion of the pilgrimage within, and turn it into a practical, usable concept for our everyday lives.

“The inner pilgrimage”, it sounds exciting, right? It has the allure of a long journey, and it holds a promise: we are going somewhere – to a place within us. I mean, I’m all up for it! Yet, when I first heard of the notion I wondered: What does it actually mean? What is my role in all of this? How does it work?

Let’s dive in!

A Sacred or Meaningful Journey

Let us start at the beginning. What are we talking about, when we talk about the inner pilgrimage?

When speaking about pilgrimage, we often talk about a journey. Not just any journey though. A pilgrimage is a sacred or meaningful journey. It’s a journey that brings us closer to something that is significant to us, the thing or things that lights us up.

Usually when we think about a pilgrimage, we think about a physical journey. First thing that comes to my mind is the image of a sunburned pilgrim with blistered feet and a heavy backpack, moving towards a significant destination, often a sacred one.

Pilgrimage, however, is not solely a physical, outer journey – it’s an inner journey too. It’s a journey of (re-)discovering that which we are or want to be; it’s a movement towards that which we recognise as meaningful and/or sacred.

You might think, what does that even mean? Take a moment to ask yourself. What is sacred or meaningful to me? What is significant in my life? What lights me up?

Perhaps it is the bond with your family or the joy you experience in your work. It could be that you find being active important, or having lots of time to travel. Being kind or serving others might be the thing that lights you up. Maybe it is your relationship with God, the way you integrate spirituality in your life. It might well be that you do not know what it is right now, and that’s totally fine too.

Whatever it is that we recognise to be sacred or meaningful to us, in this very moment, becomes the destination of our sacred or meaningful journey.

The inner pilgrimage is the continuous (re-)discovery of that which lights us up and, then, taking the steps towards that sacred place.

Living Authentically

I believe that we have been gifted one beautiful and mysterious life. It would be a shame if we wouldn’t live it the way that we want to live it.

The most heard regret of those at the end of their lifetime, is that they have not lived it more authentically.

Think. How often do we refrain from doing the things we fiercely wish to do or would love to do or try, because we are afraid, we don’t want to disappoint our environment, or because we don’t want to look silly!

Being true to who we are isn’t an easy path, but one well worth walking.

Everyday Journey

The inner pilgrimage is, thus, not a one-time journey. It’s an everyday journey.

As such, I want to emphasise that the outer journey is far from the only practice that encourages us to journey inside. On the opposite, there are heaps more ways to explore our inner landscapes.

Think journaling and other creative practices like writing poetry and creating collages. Meditation and breath work practices, but also prayer and quiet reflection could be beautiful ways to journey within. Movement practices like yoga, running but also your livingroom dances, are great ways to connect with yourself. Oh! And don’t forget the outdoors, nature, camping or hiking if that’s your gig.

There are endless possible practices to embark on your inner pilgrimage. Hope to be diving into those in more detail soon.


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