If you have attended events or have worked with me privately at Peaceful Wellness, then you know my mantra is “self-care and self-compassion.” These two ideas I speak of frequently regarding how we treat ourselves. I have come to this because of my own life experience of stress, depression, tragedy, trauma and health challenges. When I felt unwell in any of these areas I was not at peace with myself. In fact, even when I was in the peak of physical health many years ago, I certainly was not peaceful. My anxiety and reactivity ran the show at times, even with my meditation practice in place! The more I leaned into mindfulness, the practice of Loving-Kindness and RAIN, the more I could be with my emotions instead of denying them. Now, I can sit with these emotions, no matter what they are, and nurture myself as I feel guided to do.
Sometimes when we deny these emotions we turn to what is external to soothe our pain, I know there were times I did too. External modalities will only help the symptom for a brief time until the emotion arises again and in force. Being gentle and kind to ourselves with our emotions will help us to respect ourselves and the emotion.
I wrote this post originally about a year ago in February 2020 before COVID had swept our lives. For March of 2021, I am focusing on Tara’s book in my mindfulness classes and here on the blog. I hope you will join me.
Tara Brach, one of the foremost Mindfulness teachers has written a book Radical Compassion. She uses a specific technique called RAIN, which is an acronym that helps us to work with both physically and emotionally challenging experiences, such as anxiety, worry, or guilt. We can use this along with Loving-Kindness meditation.
In meditation classes, I have frequently taught this practice. I’d like to share it with you as well here so you may find a gentleness of compassion and love as you allow the shower of RAIN to wash over you. I have included both the written directions and the audio by Tara Brach.
The Practice of RAIN
Sitting quietly, close your eyes and take a few full breaths. Bring to mind a current situation in which you feel stuck, one that elicits a difficult reaction, such as anger or fear, shame or hopelessness. It may be a conflict with a family member, a chronic sickness, a failure at work, the pain of an addiction, a conversation you now regret. Take some moments to enter the experience—visualizing the scene or situation, remembering the words spoken, sensing the most distressing moments.
R– Recognize What is Happening. As you reflect on the situation, ask yourself, “What is happening inside me right now?” What sensations are you most aware of? What emotions? Is your mind filled with churning thoughts? Take a moment to become aware of whatever is predominant, or the overall emotional tone of the situation.
What is going on inside me?
A–Allow Life to Be Just as It is. Send a message to your heart to “let be” this entire experience. Find in yourself the willingness to pause and accept that in these moments, “what is…is.” You can experiment with mentally whispering words like “yes,” “I consent,” or “let be.” You might find yourself saying yes to a huge inner “no,” to a body and mind painfully contracted in resistance. You might be saying yes to the part of you that is saying, “I hate this!” That’s a natural part of the process. At this point in RAIN, you are simply noticing what is true and intending not to judge, push away, or control anything you find.
Breathe slow breaths, do not try to fix or change anything. I don’t judge myself for feeling anxious or guilty.
I–Investigate with Gentle, Curious Attention. Bring an interested and kind attention to your experience. Some of the following questions may be helpful. Feel free to experiment with them, varying the sequence and content. Many students initially see “Investigate” as an invitation to fire up their cognitive skills—analyzing the situation or themselves, identifying the many possible roots of their suffering. While mental exploration may enhance our understanding, opening to our embodied experience is the gateway to healing and freedom.
Where are the feelings strongest in my body? What emotions does this bring up? How does this part want me to be with it?
N– Nurture with a Loving Presence. As you sense what is needed, what is your natural response? Calling on the most wise and compassionate part of your being, you might offer yourself a loving message or send a tender embrace inward. You might gently place your hand on your heart. You might visualize a young part of you surrounded in soft, luminous light. You might imagine someone you trust—a parent or pet, a teacher or spiritual figure—holding you with love. Feel free to experiment with ways of befriending your inner life—whether through words or touch, images or energy. Discover what best allows you to feel nurturing, what best allows the part of you that is most vulnerable to feel loved, seen, and/or safe. Spend as much time as you need, offering care inwardly and letting it be received.
What do I need in this moment?
- Recognize What is Happening
- Allow Life to Be Just as It is
- Investigate with a Gentle, Curious Attention
- Nurture with a Loving Presence
Tara has a free study guide available, you can download it here Radical Compassion Study Guide.
Buy the book on Amazon
I look forward to joining you with this practice throughout the month.
Details on all of my classes here.