Service Review: Mani Prayer Wheel

Deep in the Redwoods

I am always looking for ways to elevate my meditation so when I heard of a walking meditation via the Mani Prayer Wheel in Santa Cruz, I knew that I needed to check it out. Located deep in the Redwoods, this prayer wheel can be found at the Land Of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center (an active Buddhist community). This place of serenity was established in 1991 as a non-profit Buddhist retreat center. There are lodging accommodations available on the property, as well as meditation classes, Dharma classes, sound healing, yoga, hiking trails and more. This community is inspired by the Buddhist teachings and practices as well as actively preserving the Mahayana Buddhist values.

Follow the unpaved road

To reach the Land Of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center you must drive on a narrow and semi unpaved road into the Redwoods of Santa Cruz. The drive itself is very beautiful because of the gorgeous trees and surrounding nature. Since the retreat center is in a slightly secluded area, there is only one way in and one way out. It can be tricky when there are two cars going in the opposite direction on the unpaved portions of the road so I would suggest taking a smaller vehicle. 

Avoid crowds. Go early

While there is no official price of admission, you will be asked for a small donation (around $5.00) by an attendant at the entrance. After you have provided a donation, the attendant will give you a map of the property and point you in the direction of the small parking area. This destination can become very crowded which in turn makes parking difficult. I would suggest arriving in the early morning to avoid the crowds or plan your visit during the week.

"You feel like you are taken to a special realm where only you and your thoughts exist."

Inspired by the Dalai Lama

The prayer wheel was constructed in 2001 when the retreat center was hosting teachings with the Dalai Lama. It was completed with the help of donations, benefactors and staff from the Land of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center. It is said that there are 170,425,600,00 mantras and texts held inside this prayer wheel. The structure itself is very large and ornate with gorgeous colors of gold and red decorating the entire space. The carvings and design are spectacular to see and it will only enhance your walking meditation.

An elevated meditation

Access to the Mani Prayer Wheel can be found right next to the parking lot. Before stepping onto the platform, you are asked to sanitize your hands. You then pick your intention and then say your mantra as you walk clockwise holding onto the prayer wheel (which moves/spins as you walk). If you are uncertain on what type of mantras to use, there are suggestions displayed in-front of the wheel. The best part of this walking meditation is taking in your surroundings. The combination of the Redwood trees, the sounds of birds and the beautiful prayer wheel itself take your experience to another level. You feel like you are taken to a special realm where only you and your thoughts exist.

Explore surrounding areas

Once you have completed your walking meditation, you can then explore the gardens that are right next to the prayer wheel. There are many statues, flowers and a gift shop that are currently open to the public as well. I guarantee you will leave calmer than how you entered.

For more information involving hours of operation and possible Covid restrictions, check out the Land Of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center website.

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