Naikan: A Self-Reflective Form of Meditation

Have you heard of Naikan therapy?

As Dr. Clark Chilson describes it, Naikan is a meditative self-reflection practice that focuses on three questions: What have I received that's positive from other people? What have I given back that's positive to other people? And what troubles and difficulties have I caused other people? With these, Naikan can be considered a form of meditation fixated on these three questions.

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Naikan is a disciplined practice of self-reflection

Nick: We obviously connected, I reached out to you, and we had a few emails. And you suggested that we talked about Naikan and how it relates to the cultivation of ikigai, which I thought was absolutely perfect. So we'll get into that. But I think we need to touch on what Naikan is. So how would you describe or define Naikan?

Clark: So I would simply describe it as a self-reflection practice, a meditative self-reflection practice, that focuses on three questions. What have I received that's positive from other people? What have I given back that's positive to other people? And what troubles and difficulties have I caused other people?

And it's the disciplined practice of self-reflection using those questions, is how I would most simply define Naikan. I would also suggest that it's a type of meditation, and that meditation is about attention regulation, but disciplined attention regulation.

So often, in mindfulness meditation, this is attention to the breath, or body sensations. In other forms of meditation, it could be attention regulation, using a mantra. In Naikan, the attention regulation is through those three questions. So it's also a form of meditation.


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