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The Rubin Museum of Art presents a weekly meditation session led by a prominent meditation teacher from the New York area, with each session focusing on a specific work of art. This podcast is recorded in front of a live audience, and includes an opening talk, a 20-minute sitting session, and a closing discussion. The guided meditation begins at 15:05.

If you would like to attend Mindfulness Meditation sessions in person or learn more, please visit our website at

This program is supported in part by the Hemera Foundation with thanks to our presenting partners Sharon Salzberg, the Interdependence Project and Parabola Magazine.

Related Artwork
Prayer Wheel; Tibet; 19th
Prayer Wheel; Tibet; 19th”“20th century; wood, metal, and pigments; Rubin Museum of Art; gift of Thomas Isenberg; SC2010.32a-h
Theme: Intentionality
This Week’s Work of Art

In Tibetan Buddhist culture, followers are instructed to spin a prayer wheel filled with thousands of inscribed mantras, or mani, written on paper tightly wrapped around a central pole inside a cylinder that encases them. It is believed that turning the wheel has the same effect as reciting the prayers and mantras, leading to the accumulation of merit and wisdom while purifying negative karma for a practitioner; it also releases these mantras into the world, benefitting countless beings.

Believed to go back to the famous Indian master Nagarjuna, this common practice is usually accompanied by vocal recitations of mantras and often combined with circumambulation around a sacred site or temple. The wheels are spun clockwise so the mantras inside can be read correctly, from left to right.

This stationery prayer wheel would have been placed outside of a temple or shrine so visitors could turn the wheel while circumambulating it or while walking into or out of the temple. This circumambulation, repetition of mantra, and wheel spinning are highly ritualized.

About the Speaker

Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, has guided meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. Sharon’s latest books are Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connections and Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace. She is a weekly columnist for On Being, a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and the author of several other books including the New York Times best-seller Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Sharon has been a regular participant in the Rubin’s many on-stage conversations.