In choosing a shape for a seated meditation* I always begin with the same question:…
As human beings, there’s no getting around that at times we will feel vulnerable, hurt, angry, and other difficult feelings. This month at Meditation Mondays we’ve been gradually unpacking a mindfulness practice that can be particularly helpful for navigating challenging and tender emotions. It’s commonly known by its acronym, RAIN.
RAIN though isn’t simply useful for meditations and individuals. As a Mindfulness-based coach I’ve found it can also be a beneficial practice for organizations, working groups and other relationships. Below is a brief overview of RAIN, and how it can be practiced in a formal meditation practice as well as in life and work settings.
R – Recognize
acknowledge what feeling (or feelings) are present
Simply naming an emotion (anger, sadness, embarrassment, etc.) or persistent thought pattern (ruminating, rehearsing, analyzing, etc.) as it arises in practice can loosen its grip in our head. For groups and organizations this might look like acknowledging out loud underlying tension, confusion or frustration.
rather than resist what is uncomfortable, create room to meet reality with awareness
Take a few moments to simply breathe while holding the challenging emotion in awareness. This is not the same thing as condoning. It is though a way to gently move towards abiding with what actually is present, regardless if it makes sense or we like it. This can also look like pushing pause on an agenda – to listen to someone, temporarily focus on a less charged topic, or walk it out.
I – Investigate
get really curious about how the emotion is making itself known
Emotions tend to make themselves known in body so it can be useful in meditation to explore what present physical sensations (noticing what we feel and where ). As we become more familiar with how feelings express themselves in body, we tend to also become more aware of the memories and associations we may attach to them. In a a work situation this might look like acknowledging people’s interests, triggers and interpretations, and distinguishing those narratives from what has literally transpired. It could also look like doing more research on a subject.
give permission to be human, respond in kind
In a classic RAIN practice N represents Non-Identification. This essentially refers to reminding ourselves of three key things: we are more than our thoughts and feelings, this too shall pass, and experiencing challenging emotions is part of the human experience. This sets us up to replace misguided reactions with skillful and compassionate responses. In meditation we might engage a form of compassionate touch, feel into our innate capacity to release and soothe through exhales, or simply take a few moments to explore simple acts of kindness we could bring into our day. In groups and work settings it might mean taking a few steps back to re-land in common ground, asking someone what would feel most helpful to them in the moment, or letting someone know you understand and appreciate their higher intention.
In the Mindful Living course, we take a deeper dive into working with difficult emotions compassionately and effectively. This includes a guided RAIN meditation. The Spring edition of Mindful Living begins April 17th. Learn more here.