As is my usual want, I was out for my lunchtime stroll earlier, following my preferred, well-trodden path. It struck me as I wandered along, eyes peeled for photo opportunities that my lunchtime walk has become almost ritualistic. I walk the same circle, in the same direction more than 95% of the time. It’s a path I’ve walked hail, rain or shine – or, in the case of Scottish weather, all three elements in the course of one walk!
My mind has a tendency to meander while I’m walking and it occurred to me that my “ritualistic” route reminded me of a chapter in a book I read recently. The book, an autobiography of sorts, talked about walking round and round a “stupa” in the mountains of the Himalayas to meditative effect. The writer made reference to the multi-coloured prayer flags fluttering in the breeze above and around her.
This set me thinking…..
For those who don’t know, a “stupa” is a mound-like, hemispherical structure containing important Buddhist relics (remains of long deceased monks and the like). The word comes from the Sanskrit word literally meaning “heap”. Buddhists use these as places of meditation, often walking round and round the same loop for hours on end.
Now, I’m not about to launch into a diatribe about Buddhism or the architectural differences of the various “stupa” to be found.
The book in question made me visualise a simple structure, quite plain in design. A “stupa” surrounded my prayer flags.
Prayer flags are not necessarily symbolising religious prayers offered up to God. They are traditionally used to promote peace, wisdom, compassion and strength. Tibetans believe that by flying their prayer flags in the wind their prayers and mantras will be spread across the surrounding area.
There are five colours of flag that are traditionally flown in a specific order.
Blue – representing sky or space.
White – representing air or clouds
Red – representing fire
Green- representing water
Yellow- representing the earth.
As I meandered along my own meditative path, I was conscious of the colours about me. Sub-consciously, I began to seek out the prayer flag colours along my route.
Now there wasn’t a flag in sight but Mother Nature was flying her own colourful flags in the bright, Spring sunshine. There was a stiff breeze blowing down the river beside me so Mother Nature’s “prayer flags” were certainly fluttering and spreading their mantras for miles.
Here, take a look.
Red (ok, its a bit pink)
(stupa image and prayer flag image sourced via Google- credits to the owners)