Roaming Zen

 Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive
– Thich Nhat Hanh

The lost art of writing
Corona Heights

I am back from England now, and very glad that the sunshine seems to have set in for the duration. Looks good for a roam this coming Saturday 20th.

For a route, I suggest one that we used on the second ever roam, back in the spring 2016, taking in Corona Heights, Mount Olympus and Buena Vista. Plenty of quiet staircases and lovely views – and maybe we will get to see a coyote.

We will meet at the Scott St labryrinth (across from Lloyd St, adjacent to the Harvey Milk Photo Center) at 2pm on the 20th.

I am going to stick in November 4th as the next possible date, unless it is raining. I have looked at the tide tables, and it will be a good day to go down to Marshall Beach, so I am just plotting ways to loop around the Presidio in addition to that.

Over the winter there will be roams as the forecast allows. Apart from labyrinths, I intend to revisit San Francisco’s open creeks, and since Corona Heights used to be a quarry, maybe the two other historical quarry sites in the city. I also hope to be able to incorporate McLaren Park one of these days.

These roams are offered by donation; they are one way I try to be able to afford to continue living in San Francisco! Thank you for your generosity in supporting Roaming Zen.

The weather did co-operate for the roam in Hebden Bridge:

Sitting on the crags by Heptonstall

On the crags
The same view last year.

Mt Sutro woods 5 copyA trail up the side of Mount Sutro

Part of the Lobos Creek trail – a real favourite of mine.

Grand View is aptly named.

This photo is from the first roam up Mount Davidson. 

Batteries to Bluffs
We have visited Marshall’s Beach a couple of times now, and one of the participants sent a picture of me sitting at the beach last year.

Land's End
Along the Golden Gate from the Land’s End trail.


The genesis for Roaming Zen was perhaps my shuso practice period at Tassajara, where I noticed that I derived as much energy from being on the trails or up the road, among the trees and by the creek, as I did from the hours in the zendo. It was perhaps crystallised by a visit to Tassajara with a group from Young Urban Zen a year or two later: after the days of work, a group of us set off for a hike along the Horse Pasture trail, and at one stage, hearing all the talk of people’s pre-occupations and mundane affairs, someone in the group asked if we could all hike in silence for a while and properly take in the surroundings. Afterwards, the agreed verdict was that the silence had transformed the hike.
And so, having tried versions of it at City Center, Green Gulch and Tassajara, one of my main teachings since leaving Zen Center has been to gather a small group of people, sit with them, introduce a little quote or theme, and lead them around a chosen route, cultivating mindful presence through walking and sitting quietly in the midst of city life.
There are so many little corners of San Francisco that lend themselves to the activity, surrounded by beauty, views, and sometimes quiet. We have visited hills and canyons, creeks and beaches, staircases and alleys; we have listened to birds and waves, watched butterflies and bees, smelled flowers and ocean spray. We have looked over all sides of San Francisco and to the mountains beyond.

I doubt many people reading this need much persuasion about the benefits of hiking, but this article lists some of them.

I like to give some credit to OpenStreetMap, for featuring much more detail in paths and trails than I ever get from Apple Maps or Google Maps – I would not have found some of these routes without it.

If we go somewhere on foot, we know the way perfectly, whereas if we go by motor car or airplane we are hardly there at all, it becomes merely a dream – Chögyam Trungpa

I couldn’t ask for a better quote to sum up Roaming Zen!