Walking meditation, sometimes known as kinhin (Chinese: 經行; Pinyin: jīngxíng; Romaji: kinhin or kyōgyō; Korean: gyeonghyaeng; Vietnamese: kinh hành), is a practice within several forms of Buddhism that involve movement and periods of walking between long periods of sitting meditation. In different forms, the practice is common in various traditions of both Theravada and in Mahayana Buddhism.
Practitioners typically walk clockwise around a room while holding their hands in a gesture with one hand closed in a fist while the other hand grasps or covers the fist (Chinese: 叉手; pinyin: chā shǒu; rōmaji: shashu). During walking meditation each step is taken after each full breath. The pace of walking meditation can be either slow (several steady steps per each breath) or brisk, almost to the point of jogging.
The term kinhin consists of the Chinese words 經, meaning "to go through (like the thread in a loom)", with "sutra" as a secondary meaning, and 行, meaning "walk". Taken literally, the phrase means "to walk straight back and forth."
This section needs more reliable medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (June 2021)
Studies on the elderly, type 2 diabetes patients, and nursing students all demonstrate wide health benefits. Although research is in some cases tentative, results suggest that there are numerous health benefits to walking meditation. One common connection is a reduction/regulation of cortisol in the blood, which is the body's primary stress indicating hormone. While the body and mind are working harder, stress regulating factors decrease. One study of elderly women practicing walking meditation suggests mindful walking is somehow linked to a decrease in depression and stress, in addition to an increase in bone development. Another study based on Tai chi meditation speculates a link between walking meditation and the production of catecholamines, which are linked to the brain's response to stress. Recent advances in medical science also suggest that promoting peace and mindfulness are linked to neuronal regeneration. The act of walking peacefully and with intention is curative to one who practices it.
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