Marathon Monk: April 2018 – 137 days & 822 mindful miles

Photo used to show tree where I’d start walks taken on 5th May 2013

Five years ago I made a commitment to do a 20 minute mindfulness walk ever day during my lunch hour at the Botanics. I put a blog post on the Wild Geese website inviting people to join me and occasionally they have. I’ve managed to stick with it through all weathers although I don’t always walk at exactly 1pm as I did at the beginning. I guess that I have now walked the same route a thousand times. The daily routine lead to the development of the whole Marathon Monk project and forms a big part of it now.

Back in March this year I noticed that the horticultural team had cleared a patch of ground near where I start the walk. Apparently they were going to erect a “sculpture” donated by the local Chinese community. It would be marble, 4.5m high and weigh 13 tonnes. I asked about it in the estates department and they showed me a picture of a Buddhist stupa!

At the beginning I’d thought that if I consistently practiced in one spot it would set up a kind of positive energy and maybe people would gravitate to that spot as a nice place to relax but this was a fanciful thought not a motivation. I’m a scientist after all. I chose the Chinese Hillside because it is a sheltered spot away from roads and has a bit of a Zen feel. If someone was going to build a stupa the chances they would build it where I was walking were higher than elsewhere. My science brain says the serendipity dice were loaded but it still freaks me out. Could my circumambulation cause a stupa to manifest?

Stupa appears next to “my” starting tree April 2018

Adding to the freaky feeling is that Ani Lodro Maverika, a former Tibetan nun who lived next door to the Botanics and was very important to deepening my practice, used to complain about the spot I had chosen to start my walks. She said nobody would ever find it and that I should choose somewhere with a landmark. She died in 2015. I can’t help but feel the stupa is part of her continuation.

I’m sure it is all just coincidence –

I’m grateful to the Chinese community for supporting my practice – even though they probably don’t realise they are doing it. The stupa, and a new ting, were dedicated on 28th April 2018.


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