Naikan (pronounced nye-kahn) is a Japanese practice that blends meditation and gratitude. The word means "inner observation," made up of nai (inner or inside) and kan (observation). Naikan creates awareness by helping you remember the significant people in your life.
In the book, "Wabi Sabi Simple," author Richard Powell suggests taking your journal to a quiet room and sitting comfortably with no distractions, preferably in a corner behind a screen. Write down the names of one to five people who mean a lot to you, whether relatives, friends, teachers or coworkers. Then ask yourself three questions concerning each person:
1. What have I received from _________?
2. What have I given this person?
3. What troubles, difficulties or worries have I caused this person?
Write down concrete examples, such as "My mother always made lunch for me for school and told me she loved me as I left the house in the morning." General statements such as "My mother was nice to me" doesn't work. Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and try to feel what he or she has felt.
Through your meditations and writing, what you find important about your relationship to this person will become more clear. When the time is right, express to each person on your list your gratitude for the specific things that they have given you.