Naikan, according to the ToDo website, is a Japanese word which means "inside looking" or "introspection." It is a way of reflecting on one's life (a daily check-in or meditation) with the eye towards becoming more self-aware and more realistic and more whole.
This techinique grows out of an ardurous form of Buddhist meditation, mishirabe. The originator, Yoshimoto Ishin, was a devout Buddhist of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Japan. He wanted to make the benefits of mishirabe available to all, and so developed Naikan.
Naikan can be practiced daily and or in periodic retreats. One can focus Naikan on the events of single day, on a relationship with a person, or on a period of time.
Naikan centers around three questions:
- What have I received?
- What have I given?
- What troubles and difficulties have I caused?
If you are meditating on a given individual (say your mother) you would ask yourself:
- What have I received from my mother?
- What have I given to my mother?
- What troubles and difficulties have I caused my mother?
In general, precision is more rewarding than vagueness. "My daughter gave me her last cookie at lunch. My son made me eggs and toast for breakfast" rather than "my kids gave me food." Include even the small moments and items, even if you receive them every day--this wakes you up to the web of relationships it is so easy to be oblivious to. "My paper delivery guy brought the paper before I woke up."
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