‘RAIN’ meditation. A compassionate practice to work more deeply with difficult emotions. ‘RAIN’ is an acronym for recognise, allow, investigate and nurture. Emphasis is placed on accepting the nature of our experience, whatever it is, and developing kindness towards ourselves.
When we experience difficult emotions, we are generally unused to simply allowing them to come and go in a natural way. We commonly try to push them away, or overly identify with them and get lost in them, or try to distance ourselves by turning to familiar ‘comfort’ behaviours (e.g. over- drinking, eating). Learning to recognise and respond kindly to our difficult emotions, instead of automatically reacting to them in such ways, helps strengthen our sense of calm, compassion, well-being and resilience.
‘RAIN’ is an in-depth meditation that can be used when difficult emotions, thoughts or experiences arise. ‘RAIN’ is an acronym for recognise, allow, investigate, nurture. We can practice ‘RAIN’ briefly ‘on the spot’ when difficult emotions arise, or we can bring the experience back to mind later and use ‘RAIN’ as a sitting meditation at a time of our choice.
See meditation guide
Prepare by bringing your attention to your breathing, breathing in as normal and taking extended outbreaths…three times… this helps your body relax and let go of tension. Bring to mind/be aware of the difficult/’charged’ situation, perhaps one in which you experience fear, anger, shame, hopelessness or anything else you find difficult. Notice the details of the situation.
1.Recognise the difficult emotions/thoughts/body sensations, and name them to yourself e.g. ‘I am feeling frightened right now’.
[In this way you are stepping aside to observe whatever you are experiencing, and are no longer on auto-pilot and completely ‘lost’ in the experience].
2. Allow. Bring a sense of gentle acceptance to the acknowledgement that ‘my experience (feelings, thoughts, sensations) right now is my experience’, ‘what is happening, is happening’. Allowing involves letting whatever is there in our internal experience to be there just as it is.
[We aim to bring a sense of tenderness and self-acceptance to this step as we often want to push our feelings away.Allowing our inner experience to be as it is does not imply we find the external situation acceptable, nor mean we shouldn’t take action if required.]
3. Investigate. With a gentle curiosity, look more closely at what is happening during this experience. You may notice how your body feels (e.g. tight, shaky, agitated); how you feel emotionally (e.g. vulnerable, hurt, frightened); what kind of thoughts or negative beliefs are there (e.g. ’I should be feeling stronger’; ‘I always get things wrong’; ‘No one understands me’).
4. Nurture. Offer yourself tender inward care, imagining feeling safe and loved and cared for by a wise, warm, compassionate part of yourself (e.g. as a parent to our own ‘inner child’), or by someone/something else ( e.g. spiritual figure; friend/family figure; aspect of nature; pet). As much as possible, sense the feeling of ‘being held’ as you receive such love and compassion, caring for you in your difficult time.
[N.B. Some people find it helpful here to use touch e.g. a hand on the heart; a self-hug]