How can we feel more ikigai in our lives?
In life, we often encounter difficult times when it can be challenging to find purpose and meaning. During such times, methods like Naikan and Morita therapy can be considered helpful, enabling us to move forward and feel more ikigai.
In this episode of the Ikigai Podcast, Nick speaks with Carly Taylor about the life-changing benefits of Naikan and Morita Therapy.
Finding moments of joy
"I think it was Gregg Krech that said, even in the darkest days, you will find moments of joy. And that's ikigai.
Even if I'm having a really bad day, and all these emotions are coming up, if I can just pause or just stop and look out the window, or just sit for a moment and enjoy my cup of coffee, that's when you can tap into ikigai. And it's almost like these moments of reprieve from all the other stuff that's going on." - Carly Taylor
Carly Taylor is trained and experienced in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Japanese psychology (Morita Therapy and Naikan); she is a University qualified nutritionist, personal trainer, and health coach with over 10 years of experience in the area of behaviour change.
Her coaching covers all domains of life: mindset, nutrition, movement, and sleep; it is centred around living a life based on values and purpose as opposed to a life dictated by thoughts and emotions. Currently, she is studying for a Masters in Counselling.
Website - Mental Fitness Coaching
Studying Japanese psychology. At 2:35, Carly shares what attracted her to learn Morita and Naikan therapy.
Understanding Morita therapy. At 9:25, Carly defines what Morita therapy is.
Classic Morita therapy. Carly explains the process of the classic Morita therapy at 19:40.
Personal approach to Naikan. At 25:23, Carly shares her personal approach to Naikan and the benefits of doing it.
Can Naikan help people have better lives. At 33:50, Carly shares how Naikan helps people to become better versions of themselves.
Coaching practice. At 40:54, Carly explains her coaching practice.
Discovering ikigai. At 44:29, Carly shares the first time she has known about ikigai.
Presentations on ikigai. At 47:50, Carly shares how her presentations on ikigai impact her audiences.
Studying Japanese psychology
Before Carly knew about Morita therapy and Naikan, she was doing one-on-one nutritional coaching. What she found out from most of her clients was that food was not really the root cause; food was a form of avoidance strategy or a comfort-seeking behaviour. The real problem was about other areas of their lives that were affecting their eating patterns and relationships with food.
With this discovery, she began to develop an interest in the psychology of behaviour change and learnt about Gregg Krech, which started her journey of fully immersive learning on Morita therapy and Naikan at the ToDo institute led by Gregg and his wife.
Understanding Morita therapy
One approach to Morita therapy is by using the four A’s: awareness, acceptance, attention, and action.
Awareness - to become better versions of ourselves, self-awareness is essential as it helps us reflect on our behaviours to better understand ourselves.
Acceptance - we must learn to accept that there are things that are out of our control, like our thoughts and emotions, and we just have to learn to live with them.
Attention - what we focus our attention on may have an impact on our lives.
Action - a purposeful action; it is finding purpose even in the simplest things that we do.
Classic Morita therapy
“Classic Morita therapy” is the original protocol Morita created for his in-house patients. He had a beautiful indoor/outdoor space so patients could connect with the natural environment.
Morita therapy includes four stages and as patients move through the stages, they find a heightened feeling of connection with nature—making the environment an integral part of the therapeutic process of Morita therapy.
"You need to spend half an hour, everyday in nature. I'm sure that will have to become a standard because it's such a healing experience to go out into nature. The fresh air and the sensory experience is amazing. You can see beautiful flowers, leaves or sunlight through the trees, and it does make you feel better." - Nicholas Kemp
Carly’s personal approach to Naikan
Carly’s into journaling and shares that she’s got boxes of journals since the age of six. Among the journaling techniques she has tried, she finds Naikan the most effective.
She spends time reflecting on the three Naikan questions, reflecting on general things that happen in her life. For her, Naikan is gratitude on steroids; it opened up a new perspective for her and helped her appreciate every person she encounters in her life.
I must say, I do a Naikan most nights on my day - not necessarily on one person like Clark talked about. I try to do at least 6 points for each question (or more - depending on time) and I put as much detail as I can for each question. I'm a big journaller and the Naikan approach is incredibly powerful compared to other approaches I have tried - it has opened up a new perspective of my life. It has helped me with relationships with my immediate family up to the people I pass on the street (you can't under-rate a smile to a stranger). Even brings up gratitude towards my dogs! 🙂 It creates a strong feeling of connection that I haven't felt before.
Can Naikan help people have better lives
Naikan can be useful for people to become better versions of themselves. Through Naikan, people begin to understand how their experiences and relationships with others can affect their lives. Some of their relationships might be difficult, but they also received something good from those relationships—it helps them to understand that there are people who stayed by their side during trying times.
"Naikan isn't about being grateful for what you have if what you have is not serving you well or sufficient. Naikan is about widening the lens on your life, so you don't only see the suffering, but you see beyond that.
Naikan is used as a therapy for people who have suffered abuse in the past and I have used it as part of the healing process. It's not to excuse the behaviour of others, but shines light on the other aspects of the relationship that may be clouded from the pain experienced. It paints the full picture, which can then reduce the pain victims carry with them." - Carly Taylor
Carly’s coaching covers mindset, nutrition, movement, sleep, and social connection. She explains that in her coaching, she looks at a person’s entire being to understand them completely.
In addition, it is important to get everything in balance to live a fulfilling life. Hence, she incorporates all those essential elements into her coaching—instead of resorting to medication, it is important to understand people’s lifestyle interventions first.
Like most people, Carly stumbled upon ikigai through the Venn diagram circulating the web. However, she still felt uncertain about the information she learnt.
Then seeing how Trudy Boyle of ToDo Institute talked about ikigai with passion and incorporated it into her work with terminally ill people sparked her interest and made her want to learn more about ikigai. That is when she came upon Nick’s Ikigai Tribe and took up his course, which gave her clarity on the authentic definition of ikigai.
Presentations on ikigai
When giving presentations on ikigai, Carly has found that people feel relieved knowing that ikigai is not a Venn diagram – it is not something that they need to get paid for or have to search for. They learn that it is more about being aware of their surroundings, that they can feel ikigai even in the small things that they encounter in life.
"Even if I'm having a really bad day and all these emotions are coming up, if I can just pause or just stop and look out the window, or just sit for a moment and enjoy my cup of coffee, that's when you can tap into ikigai."
Carly shared that she spoke to a young man who realised that surfing was his ikigai; he'd never thought about it before, but now it has this meaning. When he's out there in the surf, he just feels this connection with nature. And Carly has had people write to her to say that they are going to explore what their ikigai is by starting a hobby that they'd been putting off.
In our chaotic and hectic lives it would be beneficial to incorporate Morita therapy and Naikan into our daily routine. As they can help us to be aware of the things that really matter in our lives, we can find joy in the simplest of things, appreciate our social network and feel more ikigai.