Walking Meditation and the Principles of T'ai Chi
|Labyrinth walking at Chartes Cathedral, France|
|T. N. Hanh & A. H. Nguyen|
|Circumambulation of the Kaaba|
|Kinhin at Kanzeon Zen Center|
|Spinning prayer wheels during circumambulation of Lhagong monastery|
1. Stand upright with feet shoulder width apart and arms at your sides or in shashu.
2. Begin with weight equally supported by both feet.
3. Keep your knees slightly bent and your tailbone tucked in.
4. Take a moment to be still – breathing with your diaphragm and allowing tension to dissolve.
5. Inhale slowly and evenly.
6. Slowly shift weight to your left foot – initiating the movement from the waist.
7. Exhale slowly as you shift your weight – as if the exhalation of your breath were driving a pneumatic piston supporting the increasing weight supported by your left foot.
8. Continue until your right foot is “empty” – supporting 0% of your weight. Note that once your foot is empty you can pick it up and move it without having to move your torso in order to compensate.
9. With your left foot “full”, inhale at the same rate as you just exhaled.
10. Slowly shift weight to your right foot – initiating the movement from the waist and exhaling slowly as you do.
11. Repeat for as long as you would like.
|Steps 1-3 above describe movement from the standing posture to the initiation of the first step.|
|Steps 1-4 above describe the completion of the first step and the initiation of the second step.|
As you work your way through these various components of the overall form, focus on the evenness and fluidity of both breath and step, and your awareness thereof. Be patient with yourself as you learn this new regimen. Though it is ultimately a very simple process it might not become fluid for you the first time that you try it. Please stay with it, though. I think you will come to agree that it provides an excellent vehicle for the experience of the seamless integration of body, breath, mind, and environment.
Thank you for staying with me for the duration of this detail-oriented post! I hope that the information conveyed herein allows you to deepen your practice of kinhin, or whatever other form of walking meditation you might practice.