Ernie Vecchio is making his way across the country to teach people about the importance of connecting with their internal guidance.
Vecchio is hiking and biking nearly 5,000 miles across the United States to share his psycho-spiritual model on human development patterns.
“The most important relationship you can have on this planet is the one you’re having with yourself,” Vecchio said.
In May, Vecchio made his way across Ohio and during is time in Athens, he spoke with community members about his definition of spirituality and the meaning of life.
He has worked as a trauma psychologist for over 20 years and through it, he has developed a method to connect people with their inner life, or soul.
Through his work with patients who have undergone severe trauma such as amputation and paralyzation, Vecchio has discovered a method of introspection that he said does not exist anywhere in Western culture.
“I, as an individual, have the capacity to take a x-ray of your insides so I can ... tell you exactly when, where and who you are based on the x-ray and even more importantly, I can tell you what and why you are,” he said.
Vecchio aims to help people understand adversity and emotional intuition better through his journey and talking to the people he meets along the way.
“We have this internal guidance, if you will, that we need to be connected with and need to be in touch with,” Vecchio said.
He believes that the soul is the life force of everything and that it’s important to recognize it as what animates the human body throughout life.
“Most people only think about their soul in death, they don’t think about their soul in life, like where’s my soul going to go when I die? It’s like, what about your soul right now? It’s actually speaking to you, it’s actually working within you,” Vecchio said.
In 2008, Vecchio published The Soul’s Intent, an account of over 200 dreams that his trauma patients had. The book is a “conversation between the ego and the soul,” and the idea behind the book is that no one is really present in life until they “wake up” in response to adversity.
“The core of this teaching is that we run from adversity when actually, we need to be taught how to suffer and to realize that it is a self-corrective thing so in other words when we’re going through pain and suffering, it’s really to self correct, not to wallow in the suffering,” he said.
That book inspired the name of his pilgrimage, the Camino Del Alma, which means “the way of the soul” in Spanish.
During his journey across nine states alongside the American Discovery Trail, Vecchio is talking to people about his theories, making podcasts to document his trek and writing four books.
He hopes to eventually create online courses so that people can learn about this approach to mental health.
“I’m kind of 'Forrest Gump’-ing across the country but the difference between me and Forrest Gump is when he said ‘life is like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re going to get,’ I would say that I’ve opened up the box of chocolates and I know exactly what you’re going to get,” Vecchio said. “I can define each and every single piece and teach you what it’s going to be and in very profound and useful ways I can define what’s going to be in that box.”