Intro to Tibetan Prayer Flags

May 10, 2021

You may have seen colorful rectangular pieces of cloth hung near doorways or between trees. The block-printed flags are tied vertically or horizontally aligned on ropes, poles, or walls. These are Tibetan prayer flags with a specific purpose: to usher compassion, prosperity, kindness, and goodwill with the wholesome intention to all.

Must you be an ordained Buddhist monk or nun to hang the prayer flags? No, non-Buddhists and Buddhists are welcome to display the prayer flags. The intention behind hanging the flags means everything.

Inscribed on the block-printed flags, typically handmade and a fair-trade good from Nepal, includes mantras, imagery, and sutras seeped in the Buddhist tradition. If Buddhism is a religion filled with ceremony and rituals unbeknownst to you, fear not: you do not need to shave your head and give away all your possessions to live meaningfully or be mindful.

What do the colors represent?

The flags' colors have a specific meaning, circling to Tibetan medicinal texts and oral traditions. Here is a breakdown of what the colors represent in nature and how they interrelate to the bodymind:

Yellow

Yellow harnesses the highest vibration in the Buddhist tradition, as it stands for grounding, humility, an aversion to attachments, and overcoming obstacles. All suffering is rooted in an attachment—what you want and what you hold onto (physically or emotionally).

Element in nature: Earth

Body: Flesh & bone

Sense: Smell

Green

Green is the color of harmony and compassion.

Element in nature: Water

Body: Blood

Sense: Taste

Red

Red is the color of sacred sites, protection, and wish fulfillment.

Element in nature: Fire

Body: Coloration

Sense: Sight

White

White encompasses everything—life and death—and its relation to karma.

Element in nature: Air/cloud

Body: Breath

Sense: Touch

Blue

Blue is the color of healing and longevity.

Element in nature: Sky

Body: Body’s cavities

Sense: Hearing

The colors coincide with the bodymind as a vessel for greatness and its ability to end suffering given the right mindset and intentions. Together the colors are living a rooted life, free from greed, hate, and delusion.

How to hang your prayer flags

To be true to the nature of the flags, hang them with intention according to the Tibetan astrological calendar. If you're connected and dialed into a sangha, you may request a lama to bless the flags before you hang them. If such a task may be out of reach for most, consider an open heart filled with a willingness to become an example of being good to the world and its occupants. Hang them either on Mondays or Fridays, preferably on a sunny and windy day, or on a new or full moon.

Offer good wishes and compassion for all when hanging the flags. Offer quiet prayers to them. The beautiful story is that the flags will become weathered from the environmental elements and slowly fray and release their threads into the world strand by strand. The beauty of impermanence must be revered.

Tricia Louvar l Mukha Yoga

By Tricia Louvar; All Rights Reserved @2021

Tricia Louvar l Mukha YogaBy Tricia Louvar; All Rights Reserved @2021



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