Hi, I feel that sometimes the practice of Kinhin isn't address as much so I want to share my thoughts on it and maybe open a discussion on the topic..
Here are some of my thoughts on the Kinhin that I wrote as a draft essay for one of my classes:
The practice of walking mediation is just as important, and for some, more important than a formal mediation practice. During formal mediation practice it is much easier to stay focus, see thoughts arise, and let them pass, because the environment of formal mediation practice is conducive to that type of practice. To some it even becomes another form of conditioning. When you take a certain seated posture, the mind begins to calm down because that is what it was trained to do, having nothing to do with spiritual progress, just another mechanical action.
Yet walking mediation can have a profound effect for some, because as it is now, a lot of spiritual practitioners live their lives in a dichotomy. There is a gap between spiritual life, and everyday life. A gap that has to be closed. Walking mediation is the bridge, essentially it can help show that this gap never existed in the first place. A profound stillness is developed and realized during sitting mediation, yet once we get back into our everyday routine it is very easy for that stillness to be forgotten in the sheer chaos and constant movement that is our lives. Walking mediation teaches stillness amongst that activity.
The practice of walking meditation allows one to experience the same stillness found during sitting while commuting to and from work or school, teaches us how to be fully present while on the bus or train. At that point one is no longer practicing mediation, because at that the mediator has disappeared, leaving only pure awareness in its place. It is here that one realizes that the gap between practice and life has never existed, at this point one is no longer in need of a formal practice, because once that gap is transcended, one will dwell in constant mediation, dwell in that constant state that is available to us during our practice.
Just some thoughts...
Re: On Kinhin
Well, here is all I usually have to say about "Kinhin" (Walking Zen), besides the bare mechanics of telling folks how to hold the hands, place the feet and such ...
I say ...
Just walk with no goal or destination, no need to "get some place" ... tasting every single step-by-step as each a 'Total Arriving', getting to what was already arrived at all along from the start, a Buddha's step, each step whole and complete as it is ... just here, just here, just here ...
Simply walk Kinhin with that attitude. As in Shikantaza Zazen, do not worry about concentrating, focusing or calming the mind, and just let that naturally happen, (which it will tend to do just by walking as described ... but also let stormy Kinhin be stormy, calm Kinhin be calm too.).
How many times in life do we do that? We are always running here or there, people to see and places to get, a finish line to cross, thinking we are early or late for the appointment, that we are running to go to some place pleasing or displeasing, where we 'want to go' or where we do not! Kinhin is walking without all that.
And, as you say Seiryu, when we do get back into the rat race on Monday ... commuting to and from work or school, on the bus or train, late for the meeting, running 5K races, chasing after toddlers or after honors and goals ... perhaps we can experience Kinhin even as/amid/right through all that!
Kinhin is very important, not to be neglected. It is good to add a few minutes of Kinhin to follow seated Zazen.
Re: On Kinhin
Thank you Seiryu,
I for a long time not heard of Kinhin, only about "sitting". As sitting for longer constantly results in some back problems I really liked the Kinhin alternative. As you lined out however its much more than just an alternative, or replacement when one cant sit. It serves an important function and has its own place. As you wrote it is kind of bridge, and its great training to bring our open mind towards daily activity. I must admit I'm a Kinhin fan :-D
Re: On Kinhin
I personally find Kinhin to be much easier to let the clouds be clouds and drift out of a clear sky. Whereas I always have stormy skies when just sitting. So, if my interpretation is correct, an experience which is opposite to that of Seiryu's. Perhaps it has something to do with the 15 years of studying tea that I've done? There are(though I've never actually counted) seemingly a hundred steps to preparing tea for just one gathering. All of which, though the body is far from still, is performed with complete stillness of mind. Similar I would say, to the the "Zone" in which an athlete enters. A baseball player doesn't stand at the plate and think, is it going to be a fast pitch, curve ball, are the fans chanting my name, what's the score, did I forget to lock my locker in the locker room, etc. No they get up there and do what is needed at the time that it's needed without their minds adding to it.
Re: On Kinhin
I like your perspective, Seiryu. The "bridge" is an interesting metaphor.