Naikan Reflection

6 years 8 months ago #294147 by thomaswfaulkner
In my time away from the Temple, I stumbled upon this beautiful form of self-reflection called Naikan that I wish to share with you guys (Not too sure if this has been posted before). I found this form of reflection while studying Japanese Psychology through a book called Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection written by Gregg Krech. Essentially, it boils down to asking yourself three simple questions about ourselves, our relationships, and even objects. The questions are:

1.) What have I received from ______?
2.) What have I given to _______?
3.) What troubles/difficulties have I given to _____?

You can do this form of reflection on anything. Usually around the dinner table I will ask my three daughters and wife to participate with me in a collaborative reflection about the family, but I lead a session with the object of a shoe in mind, and the conversation turned out to be pretty interesting. When is the last time we contemplated or appreciated something as ordinary as a shoe before? From there, I kind of stray from the questions and ask my children to think of all the processes that exist behind the scene to have that shoe placed in a store to be sold. We verbally express thanks to the drivers who transport the products and those willing to employ them, the people who picked the raw materials for the shoes, those who constructed the idea of the shoe, the people who made the various parts of the shoes, such as the laces and the inserts, and so you can see this can lead you down the rabbit hole for a deeper appreciation to how we are all connected, in a way, and how we chose to act upon other beings and non-beings throughout the day.

Naikan gives us a moment to slow down the hurried nature of our day and foster kindness for those who take the time to offer their time to us through action or speech, in which normally may just be taken for granted. The first question opens our eyes to what others have done for us.

The subsequent question then requires us to be mindful of the actions and speech we imparted on others. Did we do everything we could to help others? Do our actions outweigh the generosity of others or do we begin to see ourselves stuck in the rut of feeling entitled to receiving a certain something throughout the day.

And finally, the last question forces us to see the troubles we caused to others. More often than not, we are able to rant about how someone else has wronged us in some part of the day. "The light turned red too fast. The person who gave me my coffee took too long. The receptionist didn't tell more good morning." By asking what troubles we have caused, we are able to provide better feedback to ourselves and start to adjust our behaviors to reflect a more mindful approach.

I hope you guys get as much out of this sort of self-reflection as I did. I tried to keep it as condensed as possible in order to avoid having to post a TLDR section at the bottom of this post. I'm curious as to see what you guys come up with if you are willing to share. The author of the book suggests that it is written down so you can physically see and retain your list, but I still find benefit in daily practice at the dinner table as well, but feel free to post your reflections either to this thread, a journal, or a message if you want to. Thank you for taking the time to listen.

Right View ~ Right Intention ~ Right Speech ~ Right Action ~ Right Livelihood ~ Right Effort ~ Right Mindfulness ~ Right Concentration

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