Over the past few weeks, I’ve listened to the audiobook, “Meditation and Psychotherapy” by Tara Brach. In one of the chapters, she discusses using a technique called R.A.I.N. I liked it because it is so accessible to people who want to start learning mindfulness meditation for the first time. So, I am here to share it with you all!

As you may have guessed, RAIN is an acronym. It stands for…

Recognise what is happening

Allow life to be just as it is

Investigate with an Innate attention

Non-Identification; rest in Natural Awareness

So below, I’ll further explain what each one is…

Recognise what is happening

As Tara Brach states, recognition begins when you focus your attention on the thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, etc that arise in the present moment. Not thoughts and feelings and from the past, not thoughts and feelings about the future… only the thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations of the current moment. By asking yourself, “what is happening inside me now,” you are creating a pause in the current moment, helping your brain pause and stop processes like rumination. When recognising what is happening, it is important to let go of any preconceived ideas about what is happening and look at it as if viewing it from the outside. It can even be helpful to say to yourself when sad, “I am having a feeling of sadness.” Or if you think you’ve done something wrong, instead of saying “I’m a bad person”, try saying, “I am having thoughts that I am a bad person.”

Now for my own personal twist on this… it is my true belief that our thoughts and feelings do not define who we are, but what we do with them. Just because you have a thought that something you did was bad, does not mean you are a bad person. The reason I like this idea of naming the thoughts and feelings as just that… thoughts and feelings, is that it helps to remind yourself that they are things you are experiencing, but not necessarily definitive of who you are. In addition, naming the thoughts and feelings helps to remove your personal judgement from those thoughts and feelings.

Allow life to be just as it is

Again, Tara Brach states, “Allowing means ‘letting be’ the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you discover.” She suggests asking yourself, “Can I let this be just as it is?” Since we as humans are designed to naturally push away anything that causes pain, this part is difficult. If someone comes at you with a knife, what do you do? You run away because you do not want to feel pain. We do the same thing with negative thoughts. When a negative thought or feeling arises, we tend to want to push it away, and to avoid experiencing pain. However, as we become more willing to accept what we are thinking or feeling, it is easier to “let it be just as it is.” You may even find it helpful to say, “I allow this feeling of sadness to be.”

It is important to note that you are not stating I allowing strong horrible feelings to stick around. What you are saying yes to is the experience in that moment. Even if you find yourself resisting the feeling or thought you are having, then you recognise, “this is resistance.” Then allow yourself to experience the event of resistance. Again, the idea is to focus on the present moment.

Investigate with an intimate attention

Simply recognising what you are experiencing and feeling, and allowing it to be is enough to feel relief and reconnect yourself with the present moment. Sometimes however, only noticing and allowing an event is not enough to feel relief. This would be the case in situations that are triggered repeatedly, where feelings are intense and overwhelming. For example, when dealing with threats of job loss, an impending break up, etc. These are not just events that happen one time. They are a serious of continuous events. Investigation takes recognition to the next level. Tara Brach explains that asking “What is happening inside me?” “How am I experiencing this in my body?” “What am I believing?” and/or “What does this feeling want from me?” By asking these questions, we are allowing ourselves to become aware of unconscious identifications we have developed with and about our thoughts and feelings.

Again, naming the thought and feeling you are experiencing helps to separate your personal judgement. In addition, “This question can help you to step out of intellectualization, judgements and mental commentary, and to directly contact the felt sense of vulnerability or woundedness.” Until, through recognition, allowance, and investigation you find the schemas or stories you tell yourself, they will continue to control your thought processes and the way you experience and identify events. However, because these schemas and stories we tell ourselves are so intimate, we must approach it with intimacy. Tara gives the following example…

Imagine that your child has been bullied at school and comes home in tears. What is needed is both understanding (investigation) and compassion (intimacy). In order to find out what happened and how your child is feeling, you have to offer a kind, receptive, gentle attention. In RAIN, this intimate attention is offered to our inner life. It softens the armoring of the heart and makes inquiry, and ultimately insight and healing, possible.

For many people, self-compassion is rare or non-existent. Training in mindfulness gradually cultivates our capacity to hold difficult inner experience with kindness. The seeds of this shift in relating to ones inner life are planted in the initial phase of RAIN recognizing a painful emotional state and allowing it to be as it is. Research done with brain imaging has shown that mindful attention itself activates parts of the brain associated with compassion and empathy. The I of RAIN—investigating and intentionally offering an intimate attention—both strengthens and deepens mindfulness, giving rise to a full and authentically compassionate presence. In this way, compassion can be understood to be an intrinsic component of mindful presence, and also a precious fruit.

Realise Non-Identification; Rest in Natural Awareness

In terms of RAIN, non-identification means not allowing your self to fuse with or become defined by a thought or set of thoughts, emotions, or stories we tell ourselves. By resting in our NATURAL awareness and not identifying with these schemas, thoughts, feelings, we see who we really are, and see that we do have the option to respond to these thoughts and feelings in different ways. This non-identification is not something we do, but actually a result or benefit from participating in the first three steps of RAIN.

But remember, it takes practice!

Tara Brach adds…

While for some people, this kind of awakening might uproot the suffering of trance once and for all,
for most of us, freedom from emotional suffering unfolds more gradually. You might find yourself moving through many rounds of getting lost in the old stories of what is wrong with you, wrong with others, wrong with your life –and then remembering to arrive once again in mindful presence. Yet with each round, the understanding that you are not the isolated, deficient, endangered self depicted in your stories deepens; and with each round the realization of your true potential—awakened, loving presence—blossoms more fully.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video online of someone performing the RAIN technique. However, you can view some of Tara Brach’s videos HERE.

And a couple lasting thoughts to keep in mind this weekend…

Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than now?
In some other heart than yours?
Peace is this moment without judgement.
That is all.

This moment in the heart-space where everything that is, is welcome.

Peace is this moment without thinking that it should be some other way
That you should feel some other thing
That your life should unfold according to your plans.

Peace is this moment without judgement.

This moment in the heart-space where everything that is, is welcome.

-Dorothy Hunt

Let it rain: The RAIN approach to mindfulness
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