Chankramanam has been practised by mystics since time immemorial. Many yogis have been renowned for roaming here and there, wherever their feet took them, like leaves blown in the breeze. Many ancient scriptures describe sages who maintained awareness only by their mantra and physical movements. They practised chankramanam all day, when they moved from place to place, when they preached and when they went from house to house to get bhiksha (alms). They were aware of every movement, everything that they were doing.
When Ramana Maharshi went to get bhiksha, he never lifted his eyes until he returned. He never looked at anyone, but maintained the vacant look of shoonya drishti (absorption in his own self). He never even looked at those who gave him food. His awareness was in the state of antar mukhi. He used to tell his disciples: “In one breath I returned, with one mind I returned and with one awareness I returned.”
Very few people could understand him. It means he was practising chankramanam.
Buddhist and Christian monks practise modified forms of chankramanam as part of their sadhana. During prolonged periods of collective prayer and meditative practice, for example, a bell will sound. The whole congregation will file into a garden, courtyard or into a large hall and do chankramanam for a fixed period of time. Afterwards they will again sit down and continue their prayers or meditation. Sufis also practise forms of chankramanam.
Chankramanam has been practised throughout the world. The method is simple but difficult to perfect; the benefits are profound.