Mar 19, 2022
Martin Goodson

Walking Meditation

Exercise in Mindfulness

Through Kinhin we can learn to cultivate ‘stillness in motion’. We examine how to use the body effectively and how to incorporate the Hara into this practice.



Anyone who goes on a Buddhist meditation retreat will be familiar with the practice of interspersing periods of sitting meditation with a walking meditation practice.

This serves a number of functions:

  1. To stretch the muscles of the legs and get them moving again,

  2. To practice meditation with movement, and

  3. To discover the energy or power of meditation.

One of the benefits of going on retreat is to increase stamina. Getting used to sitting still and enduring a certain amount of physical discomfort, plus overcoming feelings that arise of boredom and restlessness, is a powerful way of strengthening a sitting practice.

However, we are not masochistic about this and it is important to include periods where we can stretch the legs and get the blood pumping again. But this does not mean we take a break from the meditation practice itself.

On the contrary, we use the time to practice meditation in all activities so that we can extend the practice to all corners of our lives.

The Buddha explained that meditation can be practiced in all of the four traditional postures: sitting, standing, walking and lying down. This is a formulaic way of saying that we can practice no matter what we are doing - washing up, making the beds, typing, even watching TV and posting on Facebook (maybe we can say - “especially” when online!).

Having used the breath as the focus for sitting meditation, we now rise and give ourselves into the object of walking. Moving from following the breath, or counting the out-breath, to the physical movement, the principles of meditation remain the same. We continue to ‘give ourselves into the “doing”’. In other words, practice the samadhi of the walking movement itself.

To begin with, it may be useful in just the same way as we use a focus on the breath or on a count, to have a physical object to give ourselves too. For walking we can use the ‘hara’ or ‘tanden’.

This classical point, often used in martial arts, is found two inches below the navel and is the centre of gravity for the body.

Being the centre of gravity we ‘move out’ of this area when walking. Perhaps, using our imagination, we can feel ourselves being ‘pulled’ from this point forward.  As we move forwards, then it pulls us forwards and when it is time to go right or left it changes direction and pulls us accordingly. We give ourselves into this gentle pulling motion.

The walking can be slow or quick, and in longer periods of walking meditation both are normally included. Too much slow walking is soporific, so some quick walking is very energising; too frantic a walking pace can make the meditation wobbly. So practice and get used to it!

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