Manhattan Mandalas: A NYC Walking Meditation

Walking in Riverside Park is a linear experience.

Upper Riverside Park Map

Like its lovely Harlem sister parks, Morningside, Saint Nicholas and Jackie Robinson, Riverside Park stretches north like a ribbon unfurled.

Bounded on the west by the Hudson River and on the east, at least in its northern reaches, by the high cliffs of Morningside and Harlem Heights, the park is just too narrow for the kind of meandering induced by the curving paths and deep woods of Central Park or Prospect Park.  I grew up wandering in Central Park, and I’m happy to say that I still regularly lose my way in the Ramble or the North Woods. Heading east, I’ll strike out on a new path only to realize,  fifteen minutes later, that I’ve somehow turned myself completely around. I’m headed straight back where I came from.

That doesn’t happen in Riverside. It’s pretty much flat-out impossible to lose your way in Riverside Park. It’s hard to even take a turn.

I’m not complaining. I love my park. But like the tug-propelled barges that work the river, you can go north or you can go south, and that’s the way it is.

Maybe that’s why I sometimes find myself obsessed with circles.

It starts innocently enough with a natural oval inside the park

but quickly progresses to circles, natural:

Who lives here?

and man-made:

Quick, somebody, wash out the mop.

Leaving the park, I have a revelation: the streets of Manhattan are paved with mandalas.

Some are large

and some are small

And when I raise my eyes from the street, what do I see?

Yes, you guessed right.


We cross Broadway with its mysterious, circular hieroglyphics

and head, at last,

to Mecca

where the apotheosis of the circle resides in ever-replenished, puffy splendor.

The consumption of a plump, fresh-from-the-oven edible circle successfully exorcises my obsession.

For the moment.

Oh, but look at that ceiling light.

May the circle be unbroken.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2010, April, Flora, In the City, strange encounters

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13 Comments on “Manhattan Mandalas: A NYC Walking Meditation”

  1. mantra yoga Says:

    inspiring circles and pictures. they could represent the circle of life. Thanks!

  2. So many circles. Thanks for sharing such a lovely experience. May the circle really be unbroken.

  3. […] post: Manhattan Mandalas: A NYC Walking Meditation « Out walking the dog April 14th, 2010 | Tags: beginners, mandalas, manhattan-mandalas, meditation, morningside, […]

  4. there seem to be an infinite number of variety of manhole covers in the city. you’ve got some pretty ones

  5. amarilla Says:

    Got so many circles flying around here I think you must be about as good with a hoop as that Windsor Terrace hoop girl I saw the other day. Nice collection! Thanks for the infusion.

  6. pat hoey Says:

    So satisfying, your circles! And the hexagons in the circles! A lovely poem to city streets.
    Did you eat the circle at the center of the bagel?

    Yrs in perpetuity,

  7. Charlotte Says:

    May the circle be unbroken, I kept thinking while reading this post, and thankfully it wasn’t, right up to the end.

  8. Wren Says:

    Round and round it goes … The bagel shop was a delightful addition to the series. A wonderful – and unique – tour of one of my favorite cities.

    I’ve just started a beginner’s meditation class. It will be interesting to observe how that changes what I read in your posts.

  9. Yvette Says:

    This was so much fun to read! Like a child at play. Glad to read such joy in your words. It lets me know that you are well.

    Hugs and kisses to all!

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