Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection

By Gregg Krech
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Preface 11
Introduction 19

What Is Naikan? 25
The Three Questions 26
Reflecting on Reflections 31
AN EXAMPLE OF DAILY NAIKAN: A Day of Reflection 32

Gratitude and the Practice of Attention and Reflection in Everyday Life 35
Unwrapping Life's Gifts 36
You Saved My Life 39
Ordering a Pizza 43
Naikan at Work 48
Looking beyond Our Difficulties 52
Taking Things for Granted 52
Itadakimasu 55
The Expression of Gratitude 58
SAMPLE NAIKAN REPORT: A Man Reflects on Moving into a New House 65

Giving to Others 69
Compassion and Attention 71
Strategies for Giving Yourself Away 73
Service Is Attention 75
Reconstructing Reality 76
Don't Thank Me. 78
A Fable: The Giving Princess 79

A Moral Self-Examination 86
Benjamin Franklin 88
The Troubles We Cause 93
Lying and Stealing 97
An Appeal on Behalf of Guilt 100
Apologies 103
Beyond Forgiveness 107
"S(s)ELF-ESTEEM" 109
Even the Best Intentions 111

Mysteries and Myths of Separation 114
Who Am I? 115
The Roots of Stuff 118
My Heart Is Your Heart 122
Illness and Faith 124

Intimate Attention 132
Gaikan: The Misdirection of Attention 134
Seeing Yourself through the Eyes of Your Partner 137
AN EXAMPLE OF NAIKAN: A Man Reflects on Himself in Relation to His Wife 138
Attention to What's Not There 141
A Fable: Giving, Receiving, and Desire-Ring 142
Relationships as a Vehicle for Training 145
Who Will Do the Laundry? 152
Two Different Worlds 152

The Practice of Naikan 155
The Naikan Retreat 156
Journal Naikan 162
Daily Naikan 162
Relationship Naikan 164
Naikan on Parts of the Body 165
Naikan Exercises 166
Reporting Our Naikan Reflections 168
Holidays: Opportunities for Reflection and Celebration 171

Self-Reflection and Service 186
Boat-i-satvas 187
Genza, the Myokonin 191
Wicker in the Wind (by Nick Callie) 192
Perspectives 194
A Note to Mental Health Professionals: Naikan and Psychotherapy 197
Notes and Bibliography 206
Index 211

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Read an inspiring sample essay on Naikan: Unwrapping Life's Gifts

"Zen invites us to empty our minds in order to gain insight into the emptiness of self, and through this emptiness into the nature of the world. Naikan, on the other hand, urges us to fill our minds, through memory and reflection, with the weave of interpersonal connections that we've used (both realistically and unrealistically) to define our existence, and through this process it forces us to reconsider what constitutes our 'self.'" -- taken from the article The Beautiful Trap by John Kain

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