Naikan: A Method of Self-Reflection

Naikan is a Japanese word which means “inside looking” or “introspection”. A more poetic translation is “seeing oneself with the mind’s eye”. It is a structured method of self-reflectionthat helps us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the fundamental nature of human existence. Naikan was developed by Yoshimoto Ishin, a devout Buddhist of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Japan. His strong religious spirit led him to practice mishirabe, an arduous and difficult method of meditation. Wishing to make such introspection available to others, he developed Naikan as a method that could be more widely practiced.


Naikan Retreat

Naikan is a practice of self-reflection originally developed in Japan. Most people are born, live and die without ever taking the time to truly reflect on how they have lived their lives. In our busy lives it is hard to find time for serious, quiet reflection. But to fail to look closely at the reality of our lives is to ignore what Reality can teach us. This retreat provides an unusual opportunity to step back and examine your life. Continue reading more about this retreat.

“Man need only divert his attention from searching for the solution to external questions and pose the one, true inner question of how he should lead his life, and all the external questions will be resolved in the best possible way.”
Leo Tolstoy

The profound impact Naikan had on many individuals resulted in its use in other areas of Japanese society. Today, there are about 40 Naikan centers in Japan and Naikan is used in mental health counseling, addiction treatment, rehabilitation of prisoners, schools, and business. It has also taken root in Europe, with Naikan centers now established in Austria and Germany. The ToDo Institute has been offering Naikan programs and retreats since 1989.

Naikan broadens our view of reality. It’s as if, standing on top of a mountain, we shift from a zoom lens to a wide-angle lens. Now we can appreciate the broader panorama - our former perspective still included, but accompanied by much that had been hidden. And that which was hidden makes the view extraordinary.


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More about Naikan...

  1. What is Naikan?
  2. The Importance of Self-Reflection
  3. How to Practice Naikan Reflection
  4. Examples of Naikan Reflection

The ToDo Institute’s Naikan Offerings


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

By Gregg Krech (Stone Bridge Press, 2002).

This is the most comprehensive book on Naikan available and was awarded Spirituality & Health Magazine’s “Best Books of 2002” book award. Read a sample Naikan essay from the book.

Order the book from the ToDo Institute’s on-line bookstore. Correspondence can be sent to Gregg Krech.




A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness

By Gregg Krech (ToDo Institute, April 2011)

If you are looking for wise and practical guidance about living well, you won’t find a finer resource than A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness. Read more about the book, A Natural Aprroach to Mental Wellness here.

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Feature Interview on Naikan

The Sun magazine cover, December 2004 A feature interview with Gregg Krech on Naikan appears in the December 2004 issue of THE SUN magazine.





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