by Justin Standfield
We all have bad days; some are worse than others. With increased COVID-19 restrictions announced across England this week, it’s likely that there will be occasions when our emotions feel overwhelming. The RAIN mindfulness technique can help you manage your feelings in a more mindful way.
I believe that the acronym ‘RAIN’ was first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, although most mindfulness meditation teachers are more likely to have been introduced to it through the work of Tara Brach. RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practising mindfulness and is particularly useful for coping with tough emotions. It has four steps which I describe below; you can also download a free RAIN handout here for your personal use.
R RECOGNISE what’s happening
- You can prompt this recognition simply by asking yourself: “What’s happening inside me right now?” or “What’s the name of this emotion I am experiencing at this moment?”.
- Recognise the emotion you’re feeling and give it a label – name it.
- Call on your natural curiosity as you focus inward and let go of any preconceived ideas of what you believe you ought to be feeling right now.
A ACCEPT the emotion as part of your present moment experience
- Acceptance means allowing things to ‘just be’ – these things are likely to be emotions, feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.
- You might feel a natural sense of aversion, wishing that any unpleasant feelings would go away. However, with some practise, you’ll become more willing to be present with ‘what is’ and a different quality of attention will emerge.
- Simply bring awareness to whatever thoughts, emotions, feelings or sensations are arising, right here and now.
I INVESTIGATE inner experiences without judging them
- Investigation means calling on your natural curiosity again as you go inwards. Notice where you feel the emotion in your body physically.
- In the first step of RAIN you paused to ask: “What’s happening inside me right now?” to initiate ‘Recognition’. In this third stage of ‘Investigation’ you engage in a more active, pointed line of enquiry.
- You might ask yourself:
- “How am I experiencing this in my body?”
- “What thoughts am I aware of, passing through my mind?”
- Abandon any need to judge what might come up – instead, offer a gentle welcome to whatever surfaces.
N NON-IDENTIFICATION with whatever is there
- The first three steps of RAIN require some intentional or deliberate activity.
- The ’N’ of RAIN expresses the result; a liberating realisation of your natural awareness without seeing the emotion as part of ‘who you are’ – this is non-identification.
- Choose to see the emotion as a temporary experience rather than being a fixed part of yourself. With practise, this realisation will arise spontaneously on its own.