Rev. Taigu, who walks the walk, talks and walks us through the ways of “walking Zen,” called Kinhin.
What’s the main difference between walking Kinhin and seated Zazen? Well, the first is standing up while the other is sitting down! Other than that, not so much.
Kinhin is typically walked between long sessions of seated Zazen, not only to stretch the legs, but as a practice with the same attitudes of balanced body-mind and diligent non-attaining as all Zazen… walking walking walking ahead vibrantly and sincerely, yet with no place in need of going… no place we can go.
Usually, when the bell rings twice, marking the transition from Zazen to Kinhin, we rise from sitting, face toward our cushion (the Zafu), fluff and straighten it before placing it safely out of the way, bow (Gassho) toward the cushion, turn 180 degrees toward the right and bow toward the open room, then turn (left usually, 90 degrees) and begin Kinhin starting with the right foot. As Taigu will demonstrate, we take about half a step at the top of each breath (although, if walking in line with a group of people, we also try to keep up and evenly spaced with the group too). We walk in an unhurried way, slowly circumambulating the perimeter of the room or seating area, back toward where we began. In the few minutes that we usually walk, however, we likely don’t travel so very far. (Again, distance is not the point.) It is best not to walk directly in front of the Buddha statue in the room, and to give a slight nod of the head in respect if needing to do so. When the bell or clappers mark the end of Kinhin, we quickly move ahead, returning to our sitting place, bowing toward the room, turning right and bowing toward our cushion, then sitting again.
It is as simple as one foot in front of the other!