What if you walked from the Oxford Hills to Boston? Hiking eight hours a day, you could make it in a week. But what if instead of striding along at a hardy pace, you did Tibetan Buddhist prostrations the entire way?

You raise your hands like a tepee and set them on your head, bring your hands down to your forehead, then to chest level, kneel, put your palms on the ground, and slide forward full length onto your stomach. Your arms are stretched out in the direction you are traveling and your hands come together. Then you stand up, walk ahead three small steps so your feet are where your outstretched hands were, then prostrate yourself again.

To protect your knees, you wear knee pads. For your hands, you wear palm protectors, perhaps made of wood.

Your trip to Boston might take several months.

I have yet to see anyone doing prostrations from Maine to Boston. But if you look online, you can see videos of people in Tibet, slowly working their way along paved highways, dirt roads, or even rocky trails.

This is a Tibetan Buddhist practice. Reasons for it could include: To honor life, not just Buddha’s, but all living things. To humble yourself and do away with conceit and pride. To accumulate merit for good karma. To become more mindful and thankful.


I’m neither Tibetan nor Buddhist, so these explanations may, themselves, be lacking in merit. I’m just going by what I’ve read.

There are three types of prostrations: local, short-distance, and long-distance.

Local means prostrating without walking. (You might say prostrating in place.) They can be done indoors or out. Some people travel to a holy site and do local prostrations there. They might do a few a day, a few dozen a day, or even hundreds. Often there is a long-term goal. A common goal is one hundred thousand prostrations.

Short-distance prostrations might be around the outside of a Buddhist monastery. Or around a town. Or to a nearby village.

Long-distance prostrations can be long indeed. The distance from Waterford to Boston (141 miles), for example, though many far exceed that. We are talking a thousand or more miles, which can take years. Some people save up and prepare for a long-distance effort. Others don’t save up or prepare, they just set out and do it.

Food and shelter can be a challenge. One approach is to stay in villages along the way, prostrating from village to village and camping in between.

I saw a video of a fellow who had a cart with supplies and a tent. Throughout the day, he would push the cart a few hundred yards down the road, walk back to where his last prostration was, and prostrate his way to the cart. Around nine at night, he would set up camp, then head out again early in the morning.

Though I won’t adopt the practice of prostrations—local, short, or long—I’m going to try to be more mindful and thankful during the repetitive tasks I do each day.

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