Bliss Walk Manhattan

A Pilgrim’s Guide, Sunrise to Sunset
 and photo diary from Friday, September 8, 2023

Note: The Bliss Walk wakes us up to the immediacy of the many dimensions of life we inhabit all at once. Few landmark photos or links are included in order to distinguish the map from the personal experience. You’ll find a short recap and photo diary of GK’s / agent mT’s personal inaugural walk at the bottom of this page. 

The Bliss Walk Manhattan is a single day pilgrimage through the central channel and around five unique centers or hubs in the vortices of Manhattan Island. The Island is a living organism. The BWM unites inner and outer dimensions– in time, place and your own body’s experience–  in ritualistic, personal and playful ways.  It is meant to take you beneath the current day surface landscape of the city into layers of history and prehistory while at the same time revealing the current city– it’s metal, brick, concrete, tree and sky– in a fresh light. It requires endurance and improvisation. Anyone can attempt it. It can be done solo or with a group. It can be independent or guided (by GK or another). No two Bliss Walks can ever be the same.

Sunrise to Sunset. For the Bliss Walk Manhattan, wake well before dawn. It is highly recommended (though not required) that you wear all white with splashes of red or all red with splashes of white. Journey from wherever you wake up to Battery Park, the southern tip of Manhattan with views of Lady Liberty, to arrive before sunrise or just as the sun is rising. Take in the sunrise no matter the weather. Take your time here– and everywhere you wish throughout — to set your intentions and orient yourself body and mind and in relationship to everything. Take meals, snacks, hydration and rest as needed as you go. While there is structure that frames this journey, the rhythm and flow is your improv.

When you are ready, board the 1 train, the Red line, going north. Ride the train to 215th Street, the last stop in Manhattan then walk north on Broadway to the Broadway Bridge. When you reach the Bridge, you’ve reached The Crown Wheel of Manhattan. Cross the Bridge on one Side, reaching the Bronx, and walk back on the other. Somewhere on the bridge, make your first offering. (More on offerings and wheels below in “Inner dimensions”). Now begins the southern pilgrimage, melting down the island’s center.

From the Bridge, carry on south down Broadway through Inwood, along Fort Tryon Park and into Washington Heights. At 168th Street branch left onto Saint Nicholas Avenue, then left onto 162nd Street going east until you reach Roger Morris Park. Circle the park on the outside to take a moment at the Highbridge park overlook then continuing circling until you can enter Roger Morris Park. Explore the grounds. Find the octagonal sun dial and courtyard. This is the center of The Throat Wheel. Somewhere on the grounds of the park, make your second offering.

Exiting the park, walk west on Sylvan Terrace towards Saint Nicholas, making a left to resume the southern journey. Melt down Saint Nicholas into Harlem, staying on it when it bears left at Hancock Park at 124th Street. Near 121st Street, turn left onto Frederick Douglass Boulevard which will bring you to the Northwest entranceway to Central Park. Enter the park. Here the grid is left behind and a less choreographed meander begins on roads, trails and grass. Eventually, arrive at northern arc of The Reservoir. This is The Heart Wheel. Circle the reservoir and, before you leave it’s pericardial trail, make your third offering.

South of the reservoir is Central Park’s great lawn and myriad tangents. Explore these at your leisure or carry on with more direction towards the park exit at 7th Avenue where pedicabs congregate. Enter Midtown, melting down 7th Avenue then bearing left near 46th Street back onto Broadway which, at this juncture, is pedestrian only. Carry on down Broadway through the Garment District to Union Square at 17th Street. (Note: Consider making a left at 42nd street to circle Bryant Square, the Solar Plexus, adding a bonus wheel to the walk especially for personal fortitude. You can couple this with Madison Park a few blocks further south.) Enter Union Square at its Northwest corner. Circle the park on the outside then find a way to its very center. You will find a flagpole with intricate bas reliefs. This is The Navel Wheel.  Circle and make your fourth offering.

Exit Union Square at its southwestern corner, carrying on south on University Place to the northeastern corner of Washington Square Park. Enter the park, walking towards its central fountain. This is The Gate of Life. Circle the fountain as many times as you like as an offering meditation. Then exit the park at its southeastern corner, walking east on 4th Street. Turn right when you get to Broadway to resume the southern journey.

Continue on Broadway through Soho down into the Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall area. Pass the Bull and the masses rubbing its balls, and, if it’s still open, enter Bowling Green Park. Circle the fountain here as a gateway to the final stage of your pilgrimage walk.  Then exit the tiny park, return to Broadway, pass the Bowling Green subway station and enter Battery Park. Return to where you began or wherever at the island’s southern edge that attracts you. Remain here until sunset. This is The Base or Secret Wheel. Make you’re fifth offering. And any other summaries, rites, completions that fit the moment. Congrats, you’ve completed the Bliss Walk Manhattan.

When you give yourself over to awareness, synchronicities and coincidences arrive with a magical, familiar quality. Like the poem on the subway wall, these arrivals and departures season the day. In general, this walk revealed an underlying harmony present in the bones of the island. One that seems little consciously noticed let alone honored or tended rather than buried yet it persists and, perhaps, all of us rely on it more than we know. May it continue. May it bring benefit.

The Inner Dimension & Bringing Inner and Outer Together*

The outer dimension is the central path and specific central points on Manhattan Island that suggest an underlying sacred geography. The inner dimension is the central channel and principle energy centers (chakra or wheels) within the pilgrim’s body, an inner landscape or geography.

Sunrise is the waking of the deep solar energy, the inner metabolic fire, that rises (The Red Line) to the brilliant lunar crown. This warms the lunar bliss center in the center of the brain which melts or opens and spreads down through each center and the whole body, restoring clarity, connection, warmth, health and inner qualities. The offering places are moments that bring the inner and outer together in harmony. 

During the walk, the pilgrim brings their awareness within themselves, in a contemplative, spacious way to the area that matches where they are on the walk. For instance, the outer reservoir heart of Manhattan corresponds to the pilgrim’s inner heart. One circles one’s own heart while one circles the reservoir. Traveling further south externally, one melts/travels from their heart center through the solar plexus and onward.

There are many approaches in healing, contemplative, psychological, scientific and yogic traditions for experiencing these inner centers, energies (blisses) and channels and their interrelationships. There need not be conflict between traditions or approaches. The main underlying theme is to travel inner and outer simultaneously and to take time at powerful convergences.


The outer offering may simply be a stone placed on a bridge, a flower, a drop of essential oil, incense, a specific movement, song, poem, artwork. Or whatever one finds or brings that suits the moment and intention. This is offered to the place and the beings of that place and any others one may invoke. A ritual or prayer may accompany the offering or it may be entirely improvised or informal. In some traditions, like the mandala offering, one imagines the material offering to multiply immensely filling the space and dissolving into those there to receive the offering like rain into the earth or incense dissolving into the sky.

The inner offering is the gathering of internal energy, feeling and awareness that one extends through one’s body and through the space.  Specific colors, sounds, movements, visualizations, feelings and contemplating internal qualities may be a part of preparing this offering. The secret offering is the offering of whatever blissful wisdom one experiences. The simplest inner offering is one’s presence without boundaries. 

The awareness of the inner and outer in relationship, the internal pathway, the movement of walking, breathing, the attitude of offering, the specific energies and meditations for each center and the challenges and discoveries along the way– these mix together over the course of the walk as a kind of alchemical process. The pilgrim opens to receive and share some nourishing power– perhaps some joy and insight or release that has meaning for their lives and the places they inhabit.

Other Possibilities, Rituals & Meditations

The Bliss Walk that’s been shared is only one way to walk. A bliss pilgrim can make journal entries, drawings or find other methods to heighten the experience as well as to create an artifact of the journey. Perhaps a Passport, “stamped” in one way or another to mark passage at each Wheel. These may also be more than individual creations. Groups may develop unique interactions at locations or collaborate on simply singular lines or words to a poem or elaborate rites. At each Wheel, GK practiced specific meditations related to that Wheel that interconnect elemental forces with inner qualities through visualization, prayer and mantra. While these were personally connected to his Buddhist lineage, the principles behind the meditations and basic form are easily adapted for others from any background. Perhaps we will have an audio tour for bliss rites, appropriately improvised, in the future.

***Contact GK if you’d like a simple version of these meditations for your walk. He’d be happy to assist.***

A Brief History of the Bliss Walk Manhattan

The Bliss Walk has its origins in the first peoples and animals who experienced and took pleasure in the creeks and streams and valley paths, the inner and outer landmarks and vistas, through the old island from tip to tip. For many, this was a regular walk– perhaps far less strenuous than today’s on concrete in concert with cars and street lights and thousands of others.

Personally, the origins date back to The Red Line Subway party in 1998. This was a theatrical, semi-impromptu subway bacchanal where hundreds shared a carnival moment riding the train up and down the length of Manhattan to the tunes of marching bands, and portable sound systems along with roaming bards, minstrels and booze.

A short time after that event, Adonis (aka Adam M) and I, on a lark walked the length of the island. We rode the Red Line to the Broadway bridge and walked on Broadway the entire way to the Staten Island Ferry. We stopped for food, drinks and conversation. No big deal. In my notebook, however, I’d written “Dressed all in red rolling a circle, giving red O’s” and drawn a stick figure walking while rolling a giant red circle. At the time, I had a two piece, circular table I’d painted red and a small collection of Michael Jackson style red parachute pants. Where do ideas come from? I’d recently studied the Situationalists. There were more underlines in my copy of The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem than un-underlined passages. I was smitten with the possibilities of playfully reinventing social norms, introducing whimsical acts without industrial logic or accounting, freeing the weak bonds of habit and conformity to power creativity and the mysteries of what might come next. This red figure rolling a red table the length of Manhattan giving red letter O’s to people– on the surface it seemed simply absurdist. Beneath the surface, it seemed like an expression of joyful warmth.

Over the next 20 years, I’d occasionally flash on this character and this act, reminded of it by the mere sighting of a Broadway street sign on a visit to the city. I’d wonder how I’d actually role the table if I ever did it. Meanwhile, my meditation pursuits had me exploring more deeply the subtle body yogas alive in the buddhist Himalayan traditions. When the Covid pandemic came, I was already living in a hut on 160 acres on a solo retreat. As lockdowns extended, I became a caretaker on a wild land of long ceremonial practice and long retreat. Walking the land became a daily pilgrimage with very specific centers that mirrored the inner meditation practices. I read and received more teachings on this principle especially in Jamgon Kongtrul’s Sacred Pilgrimage book about opening a sacred pilgrimage site around his retreat center deep in a remote part of Tibet. There are specific locations within and without. There is also the principle of sacred outlook (or pure perception) which, also, is a practice of relating to one’s experience.

Back in New York City a couple years later, I picked up a bike map of the city. After years of relying on GPS, the map had a tangible living quality to it. I looked at Manhattan, picked up a red marker and drew a snaking line up the center. I studied it further and circled five centers.  I shared the plan with a couple friends who added further seasoning and went shopping for a white pair of pants. (Thank you M for the red silk.)

Bliss Walk Manhattan, a fragmented recount and photo diary of the Inaugural Walk by GK duBois on September 8, 2023

The actual date was not planned far in advance. It was the first day after a fierce heat wave. But the temperature still reached into the 90s which had me later walking the reservoir with shirt unbound. I could sense the pace of the city resuming after the summer months. An inner voice said, “Do not delay.” I’d gathered different colored stones a few days before from Rockaway Beach for offerings at each center. I had incense as well and a small book of practices and prayers I wanted to have on hand.

The general route was planned according to the island’s geography yet there was a lot of space for discovery and exploration. This turned out to be one of the most remarkable aspects of the walk. I did not actually know what I’d find at each center– excepting the reservoir heart which I’d walked and run so many times over the years. The timing of the metro north train at the bend at the crown; The discovery of the sun dial at the throat wheel; The flagpole with bas relief at the navel center– These felt like miraculous synchronicities. The fountains within parks and gardens– the weave of waters through these channels– held an extraordinary force. The inner quiet, with an almost magnetic, gravitational quality to be found at these places when regarded in this pilgrimage light. The sharp incongruence of midtown leaving the park but thinking ahhh… this is the hubbub of the solar plexus moving deeper into the guts.

I woke before sunrise, did a short morning practice related to the channels and wheels, dressed quickly and rode my old 80s schwinn cruiser from the East Village to the East River and down the Greenway to Battery Park just as the sun started to rise. It was a cloudy morning so unremarkable sunrise. I spent about an hour in the front outdoor patio of the Staten Island Ferry building, sipping a coffee from a street vendor, doing a long Wheel of Bliss meditation prelude as flows of people arrived off the ferries. Then I headed lucidly underground to the Red Line 1 train.

By the time I arrived back where I began, passing the crowds waiting to rub the bull’s balls, an extraordinary sunset had begun to unfold. I was half soaked with sweat and an earlier rain and surely foot-fatigued. But more full of marveling at the sun dropping further into my guts, into the waters, into the horizon.

When you give yourself over to awareness, synchronicities and coincidences arrive with a magical, familiar quality. Like the poem on the subway wall, these arrivals and departures season the day. In general, this walk revealed an underlying harmony present in the bones of the island. One that seems little consciously noticed let alone honored or tended rather than buried yet it persists and, perhaps, all of us rely on it more than we know. May it continue. May it bring benefit.



by Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb,
Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model’d,
The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business, the houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses, the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide,
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d, beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng’d, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the shops and shows,
A million people—manners free and superb—open voices—hospitality—the most courageous and friendly young men,
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!


by Christopher Sage Doorley

on a light day 
you find more to bring along 
on a heavy day 
you cast more off

weighing your scales at dawn
and in no time you find 
your food & water almost gone
where, amidst your journey,
as you re-inventory what 
you did not pack with you,
you remember a piece of song
may your mind be spacious like sky beyond buildings
may your heart teem like city streets
may your body be as resilient as river wind
and may your courage remind your feet