Awakening self-compassion is often the greatest challenge people face on the spiritual path. ― Tara Brach
With the holidays approaching, many of us may be getting together with family and friends or preparing for the holiday rush. This time of year can be stressful so we thought we would introduce RAIN, a meditative technique on how to shift your perspective on situations that trigger you.
RAIN is an acronym developed by Michelle McDonald, a 30+ year mindfulness teacher. It has since been adapted by many people in the mindfulness space, as well as American psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach. The mindfulness meditation technique was created to increase self-awareness by having us face our difficult and overwhelming emotions.
Everyone carries some pain from their childhood and past experiences. Often times this pain manifests itself in the form of insecurity and sensitivity and we find ourselves easily triggered over certain situations. Using RAIN, we recognize when we are triggered and step back to become the observer of our thoughts and actions.
To grow our self-compassion, we can practice these four RAIN steps:
Recognize the emotion
Acknowledge in a self-compassionate, kind and non-judgemental way, the emotion as it is happening. What sensations do you feel in your body? Can you name your feelings? (I feel angry, I feel frustrated, I feel deeply hurt or embarrassed…) Recognizing your emotions helps you confront the your critical inner voice, anxiety, fear, feelings of unworthiness and other intense emotions.
Accept the emotion or allow the experience just as it is
Embrace the feeling. Just feel it. It’s okay as it is and doesn’t require any fixing. Sometimes, our body’s natural defenses tell us to analyze, ignore or suppress our intense emotions. When we approach our strong feelings head on, we notice them melt away.
Investigate the emotion with kindness and self-compassion
Examine the emotion you are having. Think about why you might feel this way. Is there a sensitivity from your past that could be similar to this one that has cause you a lot of pain? Maybe you needed a better night’s sleep or that migraine you’ve had all day put you in an irritable mood. Shine the light on your unconscious so there are no parts of your heart that are too dark for you to explore. Allow all thoughts to flow. Sometimes vulnerable feelings hide behind aggressive ones.
Non-identification means we remove ourself from the label. Shift your sense of self from your strong emotions and the stories you tell yourself to the space through which these feelings and experiences are passing. For example, if you are feeling angry, it doesn’t make you an angry person. Your feelings just happen and they are always temporary. Move towards a deeper awareness.
Once we allow and understand emotions are triggered by a deeper feeling, we can dissipate its strength and go beyond the suffering. Practicing RAIN can help us change our mindset and welcome our faults with self-compassion and kindness while healing our triggers.