When we’re upset, our first reaction is often to avoid the pain we feel. But unfortunately, avoiding difficult emotions only leads to more anxiety, stress, and heartache. Yet meditation is a powerful tool that can help you awaken awareness and acceptance during challenging times. Specifically, learning how to use RAIN meditation, a form of meditation that gently guides you while increasing your self-compassion, will give you the tools you need to change how you view yourself, your circumstances, and the world around you. Let’s begin.
What is RAIN Meditation?
First introduced by Michele McDonald, RAIN is a form of meditation that focuses on four steps;
- R: Recognize what is happening
- A: Accept and allow the thoughts, feelings, and sensations you recognized to be there
- I: Investigate the present moment with kindness
- N: Non-identify to gain freedom from the painful experiences
The last letter, N, has been readapted by other meditation teachers like Tara Brach, who changed it to nurture. In her version, Tara believes “Nurture” should be a separate step on its own and involves nurturing your mind and body after completing the previous steps. She also includes non-identifying at the end to notice the awareness you cultivate. Yet, through its evolution, the point of RAIN has always remained to awaken self-compassion during moments of anxiety, trauma, and difficult emotions. For this article, we will focus on Tara’s version.
What Are the Benefits of RAIN Meditation?
Like any form of meditation, RAIN has several physical and mental benefits.
- Improved self-esteem
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Better communication
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved emotional regulation
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased physical pain
- Soothes the nervous system
- Improved cognitive performance
- Increased happiness
How to Use RAIN Meditation
1. Find a quiet place
The first step to learning how to use rain meditation is to retreat to a quiet place, free from distractions. Then, sit comfortably or lie down and close your eyes. Next, practice deep breathing or any other breathing exercise to help you relax, focus your attention, and set the tone.
Now bring your attention to the present moment. Whether you’re anxious, depressed, or stressed, allow yourself to notice these shifting emotions. In this step, it’s helpful to name how you feel. For example, “Right now, I’m feeling angry, upset, and frustrated”. Or perhaps you’re noticing difficult emotions are interfering with your life. Whatever you’re feeling, continue to name any feelings, thoughts, or sensations and recognize what is happening.
After recognition, you may feel tempted to act upon it…immediately. For example, you may think you need to solve the source of your stress or create a plan. Or you may pile on the judgment for feeling how you do. But instead of acting on your feelings or judging yourself, accept how you’re currently feeling. Pause with your painful feelings and allow them to be as they are. In fact, accepting the resistance creates space for awareness and decreases the power of your difficult emotions.
4. Investigate with kindness
Now that you’ve accepted how you feel, dive deeper and investigate. During this step, you’ll want to look at your feelings, thoughts, and sensations from a compassionate yet curious stance. For example, pause and ask yourself reflecting questions, such as “What is happening?”, “What does it feel like?”, “How is my body responding?” and “What am I believing?” These questions help you uncover the core beliefs that add to your pain, “I am not enough” or “I am unlovable”. Therefore, you may fall down a rabbit hole of obsessive thinking. If this happens, pause and repeat steps 2-4.
Since we’re following Tara Brach’s version, N stands for nurture. In this step, nurture your mind, body, and soul until you feel comforted. To do this, do nothing; simply rest in the awareness you’ve created and be gentle with yourself. After completing the first few steps, you’ll notice you’re no longer stuck in thought traps. Your pain is less and your attention to the present moment is strong. Therefore, enjoy this feeling and bask in it.
After the RAIN meditation, notice the freedom from non-identification. Who you are is no longer attached to any limiting beliefs, emotions, stories, or sensations. You sat with your difficult feelings rather than avoiding them and learned how to create space for awareness and acceptance. Take a moment to relax and use this time to journal what you gained. For example, write about what has shifted for you and reflect on whether you feel freer from the pain.
If you know you have a difficult emotion or experience, sit with this meditation and follow the steps. Or if you’re experiencing a challenging situation and have the space to step aside, use it then. Practicing it regularly will help you return to a calmer state and help you decrease your fight-flight-or-freeze stress reaction.
Learning how to use RAIN meditation can be a challenging process. It involves sitting with your difficult emotions rather than running away from them. Therefore, take it slow, be kind to yourself, and take breaks if needed. And above all, remember that meditation is a gift. When you recognize patterns of pain, you learn to approach yourself and your life with more self-compassion, acceptance, and patience.
This post contains affiliate links.
Did you find this post on how to use RAIN meditation helpful? We’d love it if you shared it on Pinterest!
And if you’re looking for more tips and ideas to help you live your best life please follow our Mental Health board where we share all kinds of helpful ideas we find each day!