This is a prayer wheel on the steepest hill in Santa Cruz from this Spring. I keep coming back here again and again.
The contrast of the brightly colored wheel and the muted dark greens and chocolate brown trunks of the redwoods is almost puzzling.
What is a prayer wheel for?
Although I am not Buddhist, I know that prayer wheels are used to accumulate good karma and to purify negativities. Karma can be roughly translated as fate or destiny. I am grateful to anyone taking the time to use prayer to improve their lives. Prayer requires time and action on the part of an individual. An improvement in one persons life directly improves mine. Likewise, any problem unresolved in the world will directly harm me because we are all connected.
Hopefully, without offending anyone or being too banal, I see parallels for the many tools in life that we use to reach the divine. I use my bicycle to purify the negative aspects of my life. The first and most obvious tool is the bicycle wheel spinning like the prayer wheel. It is improving my physical health with every spin. My mental health improves because of the time it allows me to spend in nature. My legs spin and dance on the crank driving the wheels. Everything is in motion but I am comfortably sitting on my Brooks leather seat, as if I was sitting on my favorite chair. My leather bicycle seat has long ago conformed to the shape of my sit bones and is more plush than any padded seat. My thoughts spin inward instead of outward, giving me a chance to reevaluate what is important in life.
I use a prayer ring sometimes while walking. It is harder to use when riding because of the speed and focus required. A prayer ring helps a user recite the prayers of the rosary without having to keep track of the number of prayers. Nearly every religion has a form of a rosary for prayer. This may be because it is better to have ones mind focused on prayer than negative thoughts that the mind sometimes repeats. Thoughts become things so think good ones. The prayer ring fits on one finger and then the thumb turns it to the next notch when a prayer is finished. A carry-able version of the Buddhist prayer wheel.
The last tool I use is trekking poles or walking poles. The sport of bicycling is still improving but I thought walking was so fundamental that there was nothing else that could improve it except good shoes. I was very surprised that something could enhance walking but trekking poles do. They make walking uphill easier because you use your upper body to pull yourself. When walking downhill the poles act as brakes instead of your knees. They also make one more stable and this helps on rough trails. Lastly, they hold my back up straight so it reduces back pain. The similarity I find to a prayer wheel is the effect of the rhythmic, metronome like tick of the poles hitting the ground. While the poles are not circling, they are moving back and forth, putting the user in almost a meditative state. Then, suddenly you are at your destination.