Bring RAIN to Your Spring

Spring time here in the Rockies can give a real challenge for deciding what not to wear or if the weather is severe enough to cancel events (as I did last week). But I find the unpredictability and extremes of our weather patterns this time of year also leave me unsettled and ungrounded with feelings of overwhelm, fear and frustration. I discovered a mindfulness practice that helps me get through my Spring storms that I want to share with you. It is called RAIN.

The RAIN method, developed by a group of Buddhist teachers several years ago is a mindfulness practice that can help you weather your storms of intense and difficult emotions. Tara Brach discusses this at length in her upcoming book, True Refuge: Finding Peace & Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart (Bantam, 2013). Here are the four steps:

  1. Recognize what is happening. Reflect on your current situation of discomfort by asking yourself, Where am I feeling this in my heart, body, or mind? Am I feeling scared, angry, hurt or nauseous?
  1. Allow it to be as it is. This is accepting (not necessarily agreeing with) things as they are in this moment, without judging, controlling, or denying what is happening.
  1. Investigate with kindness and gentle attention. Explore your experience of discomfort with a curiosity, asking what you need. Ask your suffering self, (the one who is so uncomfortable), What do you need from me? Recognition? Acceptance? Love? Forgiveness?
  1. Nonidentification. This is the result of the first three steps, when you have the awareness that you are separate from your worry, problem, experience or suffering and therefore you do not have to internalize or identify with it.

You don’t have to necessarily go through all the steps of RAIN. You may find the first two will settle and ground you enough to bring you to peace. The next time you are feeling even a little bit unsettled, fearful, doubtful or worried, pause, and try one or more of the steps of RAIN and see if you can weather your storm any better or sooner, until the sun comes out again.

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