Kinhin Zen Walking Meditation

Definition - What does Kinhin Zen Walking Meditation mean?

Kinhin zen walking meditation is a walking meditation that is practiced in combination with zazen or seated meditation in the Japanese zen tradition, referred to simply as kinhin. During kinhin, practitioners usually walk around a room clockwise between their periods of zazen. They hold a specific body position throughout and move very slowly.

Kinhin is thought to be the walking meditation with the slowest pace. As well as the physical relief of moving after a period of sitting, kinhin teaches the practitioner to bring meditative awareness into all their daily activities once they're away from their meditation cushion.

Yogapedia explains Kinhin Zen Walking Meditation

The instructions for kinhin zen walking meditation are:

  1. Hold an upright posture without undue tension.
  2. Sense your feet on the ground and distribute your weight between them equally.
  3. Bring your hands into the shashu position by folding your left thumb into your left palm and wrap your fingers around it. Place your left hand in this position on your solar plexus, at the bottom of your ribcage. Wrap your right hand around the left, with your right right knuckles aligned over the left. Press your elbows slightly away from your body so that the forearms are in a straight line parallel with the ground.
  4. Look down five or six feet in front of you with a soft, unfocused gaze.
  5. Starting on the right, with each complete round of breath, take a very small step forwards.
  6. Maintain complete focus on breathing, walking and every aspect of your posture.

When walking with a group, different zen schools have varying traditions for how to set the pace and movement, but generally the walking will be single file in a circle, and if a practitioner needs to excuse themselves they will bow to the room before exiting or re-entering the circle.

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