Meditating while walking has a long, noble history in ancient spiritual disciplines. One example is the Zen Buddhism practice of kinhin, which is often performed in groups, single file, to the sound of a clapper or bell. Other spiritual traditions have different forms of contemplative walking, but all share a similar purpose: to focus on synchronized breathing and stride in order to develop mindfulness of the present moment.
The key technique for walking meditation is to be mindful of walking and aware of the touching of the feet to the ground and our breathing. While walking, practitioners mindfully note this arising and passing away of feelings as the soles of the feet lift off or touch onto the ground.
Keep the full attention on sensations that arise through walking. Walking quick or slow depends on each practitioner. If the mind wanders a lot, walking slowly is suitable. Then bring the mind back to the sensations at the feet and continue walking. While walking the mind may become calm and tranquil. Stop and stand to allow the mind to experience this calmness and tranquility.
Focus the eyes down on the ground/floor about six feet in front of you or at a suitable distance for each individual. Don’t look around.
KINHIN (walking meditation) FORM —
- Two closely spaced bells after 25 minutes signify the end of sitting and the start of walking meditation (kinhin).
- Please consider kinhin as a continuation of meditation while walking, rather than as a “break”.
- Hand position during kinhin is right hand clenched lightly about the thumb, placed near the solar plexus, with left hand covering the right. Elbows project a little, with forearms parallel to the floor.
- Please walk directly (arm’s length) behind the person in front of you so that there is only one line.
- The sound of a wooden “clap” ends kinhin. When you hear the clappers, return quickly to your sitting place by continuing to follow others all the way around the periphery of the Zendo, if necessary, continuing in clockwise direction.
- If you need to use the restroom during kinhin (or wish to leave the Zendo to go home), step out of line as the kinhin line passes the door, bow as you exit. You may also leave/re-enter when the timekeeper opens the doors at the end of a sitting period, or makes a grand exaggerated bow at the end of the kinhin period.
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