Naikan - Introspection
  1. What have I received from a specific person?
  2. What have I given, what have I done for this person?
  3. What troubles and difficulties have I caused this person?
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What is Naikan?

Naikan is a method of self-reflection to explore one's inner self. "NAIKAN" is a Japanese word and means "inside looking" or "introspection". Naikan combines three elements:
The power of silence
A quiet place enables you to concentrate and to feel pure consciousness. You go into silence and meditation where you explore your own path of life. And you (re)discover your inner self.
Clearing your inner space
The three questions of Naikan broaden your view of reality. You are able to find peace with what happened in the past. You will discover your possibilities and freedom of action in the present and the future.
Respectful guidance
Naikan guides do not judge or push. They listen carefully and give individual support to each participant.
In Naikan you explore your own life, structuring your memories:
  • You focus on a specific person (mother, father, siblings, partner, children, work associates...). You can also reflect yourself in relation to a specific topic (profession, health...).
  • You focus on a specific period of your life, following your own biography (when you were 0 to 6 years old, then your age from 6 to 10, and so on until today).
  • You examine your memories asking the three questions of Naikan.

Three questions are the key

Naikan reflection is based on three questions:
1. What have I received from ................................?
2. What have I given, what have I done for ................................?
3. What troubles and difficulties have I caused ................................?
Focusing on your relationship with someone else and the three questions of Naikan enables you to develop a more holistic, realistic view of your conduct. As a result you will perceive and appreciate the give-and-take that occurs in everyday life. How do you usually start Naikan?
At first you examine your relationship with your mother. You look at the years when you were 0 to 6 years old, your first memories slowly come up. Looking at those memories you are asking the three questions of Naikan:
1. What has my mother done for me during that period of time? What have I received from her?
2. What have I done for my mother during that period of time? What have I given to her?
3. What troubles and difficulties have I caused my mother in that period of time?
In a Naikan retreat you have about one or two hours to think about that. Then a Naikan guide will come to your place for a short interview. Next is the time when you were 6 to 10 years old, still focusing on your mother. Again you have a short interview with the Naikan guide. Next period is your age from 10 to 14 years, and so on, until today (or the day she died).
Next you examine your relationship with your father, again in periods from your first memory until today. Then you can choose e.g. siblings, grandparents, partner, children, work associates, friends, topics... for your Naikan reflection.

 A Naikan retreat usually is one week long.
"You cannot create experience. You must undergo it." - Alfred Lord Tennyson
Through Naikan you rediscover the treasures you carry inside.

What is the aim of Naikan?

All Naikan participants report that Naikan practice made them feel rich, relaxed and peaceful.
They are surprised and full of joy because they rediscovered many positive and supportive experiences. The aim of Naikan is to widen your perspective. Naikan helps to see yourself, others and everything that surrounds you in a more realistic and complete way. Some effects of Naikan are:
  • Training of mindfulness
  • Find peace with things that happened in the past
  • Understand and overcome negative feelings and reactions
  • Behave in a more constructive manner
  • Discover new possibilities
  • Understand others better
  • Have warmer relationships
  • Develop trust in oneself and in others
  • Take more responsibility in life
  • Freedom of action
  • Happiness
The result is the discovery of your inner self and a clearer life meaning. Each human being is unique.
That's why the effects of Naikan are always a very individual experience.
Naikan teaches us to see the world as it is and not as we might wish it to be.

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© Johanna Schuh • Insightvoice Naikan Training Vienna