Mindfulness practice when you feel stuck
Here, a simple four-step meditation technique that can help you release stress in a matter of moments.
Originally developed more than 20 years ago by meditation teacher Michele McDonald, Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Non-Identification, also called RAIN, has become a well-loved, four-step mindfulness technique taught by leading meditation teachers and mindfulness-based therapists for easing stress, anxiety, and other often uncomfortable feelings.
Tara Brach, PhD, who blends Western psychology and Eastern spirituality and founded the included this meditation technique in her recent book, Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of R.A.I.N. “It’s a way to access mindfulness and compassion when you’re in a moment of feeling really stuck,” says Brach. “When we’re encountering emotional difficulty or we get reactive, we usually forget what to do. RAIN is an easy-to-remember set of steps that can help reconnect us, so we can access presence and open mindedness.” Brach changed “Non-Identification” to “Nurture,” to accommodate the need for self-compassion in this process. “For most people, when we’re feeling shame or fear or anger or hurt, we need to bring self-compassion to that vulnerable place before we can be free,” Brach explains.
You can do what Brach calls a “light RAIN” for a few minutes, or sit with it longer, for 15 minutes or more. “Whatever we practice grows stronger,” Brach says. “And each time you do it, you’ll have more familiarity with how to heal.”
Whenever you feel stuck, stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by a difficult emotion take a few minutes and consider the following steps of a powerfull meditation technique:
1. Recognize what is going on. “Take a look at yourself and notice whatever emotion is most predominant—start there,” Brach says. “If you’re angry, recognize anger. If you feel like your job is threatened, maybe you feel fear. Ask yourself which emotion is most calling for your attention.” “Recognizing the emotion also gives you more space and freedom.”
Brach also suggests whispering the name of the emotion you’re feeling. “If you can name an emotion it reduces some of its power,” she says.
2. Allow the experience or emotion to be there. “It’s important to not try to fix or judge it,” Brach says. “What’s helpful is if you say to yourself, This belongs. That can give a little more space to just to let it be.”
You don’t need to spend a long time in this stage of the process. It can even be a moment. “It’s a willingness; you let the emotion be there rather than fight or deny it,” Brach says.
3. Investigate what’s happening in your body. “It’s important for this to be somatic,” Brach says. “A lot of people make the mistake of thinking it’s a cognitive process and it’s not. It’s primarily about discovering what it is in your body.” Do you feel the emotion as an ache in your chest? Do you feel a flutter in your belly? Notice that.
4. Nurture yourself as an act of self-compassion. “Give that part of yourself that you recognized what it needs,” Brach says. “One way is through a message: You could remind that part that you love it, that it’s good, and you’re lovable. Another way is to call on the love and energy of others, even if it’s someone who has passed or a pet. Bathe in that warmth and goodness, and offer kindness to yourself.” Brach adds: “For most people, when we’re feeling shame or fear or anger or hurt, we need to bring self-compassion to that vulnerable place before we can be free.”
The Final Step
Brach added a final step—After the RAIN—to help the healing sink in. “Notice the difference between how you felt when you were stuck and how you feel after the RAIN. The quality of presence that arises is more the truth of who you are, and you’ll feel more and more at home,” Brach says.
More about Tara Brach & Meditation technique
Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN
In this heartfelt and deeply practical book, she offers an antidote: an easy-to-learn four-step meditation technique that quickly loosens the grip of difficult emotions and limiting beliefs. Each step in the meditation practice (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture) is brought to life by memorable stories shared by Tara and her students as they deal with feelings of overwhelm, loss, and self-aversion, with painful relationships, and past trauma–and as they discover step-by-step the sources of love, forgiveness, compassion, and deep wisdom alive within all of us.
The R.A.I.N. Meditation
Sounds True Practices are short downloadable audio sessions selected from our most popular courses. Affordably priced and ideal for beginners, they’re a powerful way to use energy healing, guided imagery, meditation, and other proven practices at home or on the go. Put them on your smartphone, MP3 player, tablet device, or computer … and start experiencing their benefits today.This session is excerpted from Tara Brach’s audio program Finding True Refuge.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.