Not all who wander are lost…at least not much, anyway

To start the trip, I stayed at a hotel in Pittsburgh to catch a 6AM flight to Heathrow. Despite the comfy bed with comfy pillows, I did not sleep in said hotel. I stayed up late doing last minute correspondence, and then staying up late became staying up early. The next thing I knew I had only a few hours until I caught the 4AM airport shuttle, so I decided to substitute sleep with a 24oz heavy cream latte at the airport. It worked for a while: I stayed awake until a few hours after I arrived in England, a total of 36 hours without sleep. But the price paid was a deep physical and emotional exhaustion that took at least two days to shake off.

Whisked from the airport by my friends Gricel and Mark, and gently handed to the monastery the next day, I started to recuperate with extra sleep, meditation, and, ironically enough, walking.

I am in love with Britain’s public footpaths.

For the uninitiated, England and Wales have an extensive network of trails that connect all over the country, through farms, forests, and countryside (In Scotland one doesn’t need to use specific trails, as any property is essentially open for public walking). One could walk from one end of the island to the other in a myriad of paths, all through public and private land. It’s a brilliant system. So I’ve been wandering all over Hertfordshire on my time off. There have been times when I’ve, umm…taken an unplanned longer scenic route, but I haven’t wandered too far off. And it’s been a  great way to see the country.

All the red lines are footpaths. How awesome is that?

When I haven’t been walking, I’ve been staying at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. Amaravati is located northwest of London, and has been around for thirty years. Although it wasn’t the first western monastery in the tradition which I follow, nor the largest in property size, it’s now certainly the largest in terms of residents. There are at present, 28 male and female monastics and monastics-in-training. The monasteries I’ve been to prior to this ranged from only two to twelve. There is also a steady stream of visitors, as the monastery is much more accessible than the monasteries in North America. In addition to the handful of permanent lay residents, there seemed to be about one to two dozen guests staying there during the week, and weekend day visitors reached upwards of two hundred on weekends.

The schedule was typical of the monasteries I’ve been to, with the exception of a very civilized tea break in the middle of the morning work period. It is England, after all.

The grounds are beautiful. The temple portion of the monastery is fashioned like an old cloister, with vines hanging in the walkway. The meditation hall is lovely and spacious with tall, beamed ceilings. There are plenty of small gardens and hedgerows around the property, lending places for rabbits, birds, and voles to hide within. Even during the work period, it’s a peaceful, quiet place.

The Cloister

It was also a great place to spend my 50th birthday. Mark and Gricel came to visit with chocolate cake, flowers, and well wishes, and I felt wrapped in the strength of friendship, family, and community, even from those far away.

So despite the rough start, not a bad way to begin this leg of the journey.

Author: mettatsunami

In 2009 I was working full time in medicine, and living a life that was alienated from what I truly valued. While volunteering with a local hospice, I began to wonder: "What would I do differently if I had six months to live?". This began the impetus to change direction. While it has been a case of two steps forward, one step back in many ways, there has still been slow movement in the direction of a more authentic life. Since the pivotal decision to change direction, I have been a Buddhist nun, returned to lay life, changed Buddhist schools, returned to medicine part time, and then full time, quit again, traveled extensively, trained in yoga, spent time in several Buddhist monasteries, and am in the process of how to live according with Buddhist and yogic practice and values, and how to streamline this life into something worthwhile. In the Theravadan Buddhist practice, one of the daily reflections is "Has my practice born fruit with freedom or insight, so that at the end of my life, I need not feel ashamed when questioned by my spiritual companions?". That is my practice. My goal in this blog is to share the journey along the way.

12 thoughts on “Not all who wander are lost…at least not much, anyway”

  1. Love it – wish I was there with the peacefulness of it all – combined with nature. I’ve seen such walking trips for women offered as tours… in GB. Guess that and other missed opportunities have prompted me to schedule a total R hip replacement for Oct 11…. With good fortune, being mindful and caring, hopefully I’ll be good to go for 2017!!! Give me back my walking legs!! If you’re still in India then – well, hopefully, we’ll be in touch and see what’s what. More power to you and your journey. How I wish you well in your 50th year! Belated happy birthday. Gail

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely photos! I can testify that our dear friend Denise is we’ll rested now, has many walking miles under her belt and has even found a ‘job’ : she will be walking my sister-in-law young dog, Herbie Peanut. Let’s see how he can keep up with her walking history! … Now looking forward to our escapade to the big city and its London Eye, Thames river cruise, etc etc. Watch the space!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds as if you are having a wonderful time! Love the photographs too! What fat dairy goats! Too many explanation points in my comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve heard of the walking tours and always thought I’d like to take one. Your photos are making me think more seriously about it. Such a beautiful place.


  5. Denise – Wonderful to see your post. It sounds like a perfect place to visit. We will enjoy your trip vicariously for now but maybe we will make it there some day, too. Corky


  6. I am happy you have had good time at Amaravati:) I am sorry I have missed you there…you know my on and off media phobia:) see you here next time…hopefully soon:)


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