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Thread: wheelchair kinhin question

  1. #1

    wheelchair kinhin question

    Jundo, I have a question.

    Translating kinhin into wheelchair practice is a bit tricky. Obviously it can be done, as I understand Aitken Roshi does it this way now. But allow me to try and explain. You see, kinhin steps don't translate well into kinhin mindful arm movements. With you able-bodied folk, your whole body is your legs moving and your arms/hands in sassho, but for me my whole body is arms/hands busy pushing my wheels, so only half of you is busy but all of me is (so to speak). Once with a group doing kinhin, they moved quickly so I just moved with them, but I didn't get much out of it at all (not that I am supposed to) because I was so busy pushing. I thought I had solved this "problem" after watching your kinhin instructions and noticed how slowly you move, those long pause between steps can be long pauses between pushes. The issue has become what to do with my hands. By taking a long pause between pushes I can now put my hands into sassho, as you instruct. OK, so I tried that, and now I feel like my hands are too busy again -- push, sassho, push, repeat, or just leave them on my wheels in between pushes, which seems more natural but is not orthodox. Get the picture? So, after making this short question long, is it OK if I just leave my hands on the wheels during wheelchair kinhin and not put them into sassho?

  2. #2

    Re: wheelchair kinhin question

    Hi Alan,

    I would say:

    (1) it does not matter in Kinhin whether you move the diameter of an electron or one lightyear with each breath. So, I would just move a nudge (you determine how much is a "nudge") at the top of each breath. If with a group, one might be expected to "keep up" with everyone to go at the same pace ... but we don't face that issue at Treeleaf, and anyway, why doesn't everyone just walk at the same nudge?

    (2) By all means, keep your hands on your wheels at all times. The only reason I know that we use Shashu is, well, you've got to put your hands somewhere (either there or in your pockets! ). Certainly, do not keep moving your arms back and forth from wheels to Shashu.

    Let me know how that seems.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: wheelchair kinhin question

    Hello Alan,

    I sometimes run Kinhin. Not by the side of the road but quiet trail paths I am very familiar with. Despite the fact that I am a plodder when it comes to running, (I would hate to think what would happen if I did that in a Sangha group, it might all get a bit keystone cops), I still move at a fair rate compared to walking kinhin and do not have my hands in Shashu.
    Anyway back to the point. When you say "With you able-bodied folk, your whole body is your legs moving and your arms/hands in sasshu", I agree but it is our whole body, legs, breath, mind, surroundings and everything else is doing Kinhin. There is no difference to amount of movement or what is moving. Someone could have perfect posture, speed, clothing and room and still be at a standstill. Another person could not have hands or arms and have good practice.
    Even though I may be maroon and dribbling I still run kinhin as it helps my practice of zen and running.

    All the best


  4. #4

    Re: wheelchair kinhin question

    when one is doing kinhin, all is doing kinhin.

    May the force be with you

  5. #5

    Re: wheelchair kinhin question

    Thanks, Jundo, for the simple and practical Zen answer. I expected as much, but the issue has been bugging me for a while, so hopefully I can let it go now. It is not the same as doing zazen in a chair, because I have no real choice in that matter. But I do have a choice in hand posture, hence the mild dilemma.

    And I knew that "whole body" comment would get comments. :wink:

  6. #6

    Re: wheelchair kinhin question

    I'm in a wheelchair too, Alan. My hands and arms are weak, as well as my legs, so I generally use a combination of using both in kinhin. If in a zendo with smooth uncarpetted floors I can manage to just draw myself along with my legs and do a kind of shasshu, but not on thick carpet, and that really makes my left hand ache since I am mainly pushing with my left hand. Outside kinhin is generally performed a lot faster so I either stay inside or have to rely on someone pushing the wheelchair.

    I might be wrong, but I think kinhin was designed mainly to give people on long sesshin a break from long periods of sitting, allowing them to stretch otherwise immobile muscles. My experience is that without being able to obtain that relief, long periods of kinhin are a bit boring to me - 5 mins would suffuce. For that reason I very rarely do kinhin when sitting on my own, except for short 5 min breaks if I sit all Sunday morning, as I sometimes do,


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