Kinhin: The Walking Meditation that Nurtures Mindfulness

Kinhin, which translates to "walking meditation", is a practice intertwined with Zazen (seated meditation) in the Zen tradition.

Kinhin: The Walking Meditation that Nurtures Mindfulness
Photo by Pieter / Unsplash


In the bustling routine of daily life, finding moments of quiet reflection can be a challenge. Yet, the Japanese Zen practice of Kinhin offers a way to integrate mindfulness into the simplest of actions - walking. Kinhin, which translates to "walking meditation", is a practice intertwined with Zazen (seated meditation) in the Zen tradition. It's not only a way to maintain a state of awareness during a meditation session but a practice that can be extended into the daily walk of life.

Unveiling Kinhin

Kinhin is typically practiced in Zen monasteries during meditation sessions. It's the bridge between periods of Zazen, allowing practitioners to maintain their meditative state even while moving. The act is simple but the intent is profound - to walk with complete awareness.

Practicing Kinhin

In a formal setting, Kinhin is practiced in a specific way:

  1. Practitioners start by standing erect in a relaxed posture, hands folded, and eyes cast down about a meter or so in front.
  2. With mindfulness, they take a step with every breath, usually a step with every inhalation and another with every exhalation.
  3. The walking pace in Kinhin is much slower than in daily life, allowing for a deeper awareness of the movement of the feet, the touch of the floor, and the flow of breath.

Incorporating Kinhin into Daily Life

While the formal practice of Kinhin is structured, its essence can be carried into daily life. Whether you are walking to the store, pacing in your living room, or hiking in nature, the practice of walking with awareness can be a grounding and centering experience. By synchronizing your breath with your steps, and paying full attention to the act of walking, you transform a mundane activity into a meditative practice.

Benefits of Kinhin

  1. Mindfulness: Kinhin cultivates mindfulness and presence, pulling you out from the whirlpool of scattered thoughts into the calm waters of the present moment.
  2. Physical Awareness: The practice heightens awareness of your body, promoting better posture and more graceful movement.
  3. Stress Reduction: By centering your mind, Kinhin can help in reducing stress and promoting a sense of peace and clarity.
  4. Integration of Meditation: Kinhin helps in integrating the meditative state into daily activities, blurring the line between formal meditation and life.


Kinhin is a gentle reminder that every step taken with awareness is a step towards a calmer and more centered existence. In a world that constantly pulls us outside, Kinhin invites us to turn inward, even amidst movement. So, the next time you find yourself walking, no matter the destination, perhaps try walking the path of Kinhin, and discover the tranquility in each step.