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Walking Meditation Bell

A walking meditation bell makes an exquisite gift. The walking meditation bell sounds at the beginning of a walking meditation session, at which all practitioners stand and listen mindfully. The walking meditation bell also sounds at the end of kinhin, acting as a timer for the meditation. The word kinhin means “to go straight,” and the use of this walking meditation bell permits the meditator to do just that, without having to think about the length of time or direction that should be followed. The practitioner of kinhin may allow him or herself to become lost in the peace and tranquility of the meditative state without concern. The walking meditation bell will bring him or her out of this state gently, acting as a reminder to return to the zazen position. 

Between long periods of zazen meditation, a walking meditation guided by bells is practiced. This form of rumination allows the body to move and frees the muscles after a long period of sitting.

Practitioners of this walking method of deliberation go on foot around the room, clockwise. They hold their hands in a position called shasu, with the left fist closed and the right hand grasping it. During this walking meditation, each step is taken after a full breath, the meditator progressing very slowly around the perimeter of the room.

Because someone else is needed to ring the walking meditation bell, kinhin is usually done in groups. The bell can also be used to signal the beginning and end of periods of other types of meditation. This is commonly done at retreats and meetings for the purpose of meditative study, where periods of time must be marked for a number of people. Often, various types of meditation will be separated by periods of kinhin walking meditation, begun and ended by the bell. The walking meditation breaks up these more intense periods of contemplation and allows both mind and body to recover before continuing on.

By Alicia Bold

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