Learn: Mindfulness Attitudes
Explore: Mindfully Inhabiting my Body

Learn: Walking Meditation {Guest Post by Kate Sciandra}

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This guest post is by Kate Sciandra, author of the recently published book, The Mindfulness Habit. Kate has been teaching personal and spiritual development for over twenty years. She is registered with the State of Minnesota as a minister and has had an active meditation practice since 2001.

I’m a kinesthetic person. I enter the world first through my senses, through the experiences of my body. Because of this, when I want to really bring myself into the present moment when nothing else is working, I turn to kinhin.

Kinhin is just the Japanese word for walking meditation, and I like to teach it to my clients and students because, besides finding it to be a rich and satisfying way of bringing myself into the present moment, I think it’s an amazing bridge, a bridge from the outside to the inside, from the physical to the mental, from the sublime to the mundane.

Kinhin probably developed as a meditation practice for several reasons. It gives the body a break from sitting for long periods of time without breaking the flow of meditation; the knees and back get a rest, the blood and chi get some circulation. 

I like to think that somewhere in the past, some head monk who had a strong kinesthetic sense embraced this as a way to key into a mindful state that fit in with how he interacted with the world. 

Including walking meditation is a useful part of a mindfulness practice because it is a reminder to bring those things that you have developed sitting on the cushion into your daily life. Sometimes, once people get up off the cushion, they have trouble carrying the centered, calm, sense of equanimity and oneness they experienced on the cushion into their homes, their work, and the rest of their lives. 

The thing about this view is that it feels incomplete. It may be unintentional, but it implies a one-way street of sorts, but as I said, I think it’s more of a bridge. It’s a way to get from one side to the other, but also to get back again.

During a very difficult retreat I attended, I was facing challenges on multiple fronts. I was having personal problems, family problems, health problems; every crisis you could come up with, I had at least a little bit of. My problem was not that I was unable to take my mindfulness, my sense of oneness, and my compassion and equanimity from the cushion to the world; my problem was that I could not keep from bringing the world to the cushion.

This is where walking came to the rescue. It helped me build a bridge from the craziness of my life to the silence and stillness of sitting meditation. Because I believe in finding the divine stillness in the present of the everyday, in tasks and activities that are ordinary, I value the bridge that is created by practicing kinhin.

I have a passion for walking meditation. I don’t do it as much as I do sitting, but I do it when I need to, and it’s nice that it’s there. And for me, it is a bridge going both directions, bridging the ways that my mind and body experience the world.


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