It is a practice of mindful awareness, looking at emotion and thought from a place of non-judgment and curiosity. It may be noticing feelings of anxiety, anger, resentment, jealousy. It may mean noticing unkind thoughts, negative thought patterns, self put downs. Mindfulness is a powerful way of turning inward and recognizing our body sensations, mental images, feelings, and thoughts. This does not mean you cannot want it to be different, but that you have a deep acceptance in this moment. Acceptance is not passive, it is an active embracing whatever is before you. With nonidentification, you let go of this affecting your identity and simply be aware of the situation, emotion, experience in itself. If I fail a math test, I have simply failed the math test.
Here’s how the RAIN meditation breaks down.
Practice RAIN with Tara Brach:
About twelve years ago, a number of Buddhist teachers began to share a new mindfulness tool that offers in-the-trenches support for working with intense and difficult emotions. Called RAIN an acronym for the four steps of the process , it can be accessed in almost any place or situation. It directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through confusion and stress. The steps give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to come home to our deepest truth. Like the clear sky and clean air after a cooling rain, this mindfulness practice brings a new openness and calm to our daily lives. RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience.
The Ancient & Modern Roots of Yoga
When I was in college, I went off to the mountains for a weekend of hiking with an older, wiser friend of twenty-two. After setting up our tent, we sat by a stream, watching the water swirl around rocks, talking about our lives. I was the furthest thing from my own best friend. I was continually harassed by an inner judge who was merciless, nit-picking, demanding, always on the job. Yet, I have seen in my own life, and with countless others, that we can awaken from this trance through practicing mindfulness and self-compassion. We can come to trust the goodness and purity of our hearts. In order to flower, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability. Compassion fully blossoms when we actively offer care to ourselves.
Anytime I talked about myself or my experiences in a way that my therapist pointed out might be unkind, I had an excuse at the ready. Which, TBH, is how negative self-talk and feelings of unworthiness tend to work. In turn, they slowly become internalized beliefs that impact how we treat ourselves. Realizing all of that is the first step. The next step is a lot harder: actively working to undo the habitual self-judgment that, for many of us, is second nature. Realistically, it looks like a long journey of interfacing directly and honestly with our most vulnerable thoughts and feelings. It stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Non-identification. In this case, certain thoughts or emotions. Allow : As in, allow the thought and emotion to exist without immediately trying to push it away, change it, or judge it. And while it might sound like the right call not to engage when your inner monologue is being a dick, oftentimes that just shoves the feelings down deeper.