Japanese Psychology and Purposeful Living

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment – full effort is full victory.

~ Gandi

I hope you enjoyed this beautiful video. It offers a glimpse into the principle’s of Japanese Psychology and the wonderful work done by the ToDo Institute. I believe it is a great compliment to any other Japanese healing art. 30 000 days is the average number of days a person living a western life-style can expect to live. Although none of us know for sure how long we have here on earth. Saying, for a moment, that you have an average life expectancy, you can calculate just how many days you have left to live by working out how many days you have lived already and then subtracting that figure from 30 000. This can bring to realization that time does go by quickly and that each day is indeed precious and deserves to be lived fully.

I hope that you will take a quiet moment to reflect on your life and appreciate all that you have become, all the experiences that have enriched your life, all the people who have supported you along the way, and all the unlived dreams you have that are patiently waiting to be expressed. It is important that you take a small step each day in the direction of creating and maintaining what is most significant to you.

Below please find some more information regarding Morita Therapy and Naikan graciously supplied by the ToDo Institute.

Japanese Psychology and Purposeful Living

Morita Therapy represents the action element of Japanese psychology; Naikan represents the element of self-reflection. Together, they offer an alternative approach based on values such as mindfulness, purposeful living, gratitude and responsible action.

Morita psychotherapy was developed by Japanese psychiatrist Shoma Morita in the early part of the twentieth century. He was chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Jikei University School of Medicine and was influenced by the psychological principles of Zen Buddhism. His method was initially developed as a treatment for a type of anxiety neurosis called shinkeishitsu. In the latter part of this century the applications of Morita therapy have broadened, both in Japan and North America.

If we find out that we have just won the lottery, we may be excited and happy. But if we find out about the death of a loved one, we may feel sadness and grief. Such feelings are natural responses to our life circumstances and we need not try to fix or change them. Arugamama (acceptance of reality as it is) involves accepting our feelings and thoughts without trying to change them or work through them.

This means that if we feel depressed, we accept our feelings of depression. If we feel anxious, we accept our feelings of anxiety. Rather than direct our attention and energy to our feeling state, we instead direct our efforts toward living our life well. We set goals and take steps to accomplish what is important even as we co-exist with unpleasant feelings from time to time. Morita therapy is not about figuring out why you are the way you are. It’s about helping you to do the things in your life which are meaningful and important.

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-reflection that 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 has been widely recognized as one of the most effective tools in helping people cultivate an authentic sense of gratitude. Most of the time our attention is focused on problems that we have to overcome or how others are irritating us or causing us to be unhappy. Naikan uses self-reflection as a method of helping us retrain our attention to see a more accurate and balanced picture of our life. It touches on themes of relationships, appreciation, grace and faith.

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 is the main center for Naikan in the U.S. and has been offering Naikan programs and retreats since 1989.

Naikan and Morita provide a refreshing approach to psychology and self-development and an alternative to traditional forms of psychotherapy in the West. For more information, see the resources available from the ToDo Institute www.todoinstitute.org