Kinhin is "walking zazen," a 10-minute period of very slow walking that comes between two periods of zazen. It is also something of a transition between the stillness of the zazen and the activity of waking life. The attitude of mind during kinhin is the same as in zazen, one of concentration, observation, and mushotoku. Kinhin also serves the practical function of allowing us to break our sitting posture, move about and stretch our legs during periods of extended practice. A kinhin period begins when the gong is struck twice. Upon hearing the gong, do gassho, then stretch your back by bending first over the right knee and then over the left, three or four times. Get up, gassho to the zafu, turn to the right, gassho again, and begin kinhin.
You should be very careful and attentive when you get up after sitting in zazen. It is not uncommon for the feet to fall asleep and to be light-headed when you first stand. Take it slowly, using the wall for support if needed.
In kinhin the posture of the back, neck, and head is the same as in zazen, except there is less of an arch in the lower back. The position of the hands is different. You make a fist with the left hand, enclosing the thumb. Cup the right hand over the left fist, so that the palm of the right hand makes good contact with the knuckles of the left fist. Place the hands at the level of the solar plexus, palms down, thumbs in contact with the chest, just below the sternum. The forearms should be parallel to the floor. Allow everything to hang off the erect backbone—relax the face, relax the shoulders, relax the lower abdomen.
In kinhin, your steps are coordinated with your breathing. Begin with the toes of your right foot about four inches in front of the toes of your left foot, about 12-14 inches apart so that you have a good balance. As you exhale (through the nose), press down on the ball of the forward foot and pull your knee back so that you get a good stretch in the knee and the ankle. The rear foot should be flat on the floor but should not bear much weight. When you inhale, take a half step forward so that your left foot is now about four inches in front of the right. Continue to walk in this manner very slowly around the dojo, harmonizing with the other practitioners.
Kinhin ends when the gong is struck. At that time everyone places their hands over their lower abdomen, bows, and then quickly returns, by continuing to walk forward, to their zafu. When you reach your zafu, bow toward the zafu, turn and bow toward the centerline of the dojo, and resume your zazen posture.