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Our relationships are perhaps the single most important aspect of our lives. Yet many of us still find it challenging to heal severed or damaged relationships and maintain strong connections. Being mindful in relationships is the work of bringing presence and acceptance and conscious awareness to the most difficult aspects of our relationships to begin to heal the relational divides with ourselves and others.
One means to support ourselves in having mindful relationships is the RAIN method — a mindfulness process to use when triggered or when experiencing intense or difficult emotions. We can use the practice of RAIN to awaken us from our reactivity and our non-conscious, habituated patterns to be more mindful, particularly in relationships.
The RAIN method was introduced 20 years ago by Vipassana teacher Michele McDonald and has built upon by Buddhist meditation teacher, Tara Brach. In the context of our connection with others, RAIN is a very specific way of giving ourselves what we need to feel accepted, appreciated and loved so that we can give them to others.
So what is RAIN?
R — Recognize what is happening within us
A — Allow whatever is happening within us to be as it is
I — Investigate our internal experience with kind and gentle attention and compassion.
N — Nurture ourselves, so that we can return to our natural state of presence.
Often when we experience intense thoughts and emotions our initial reaction is to push them away, to resist them. When we suppress our emotions we don’t work through them and can become stuck in them (and they in us). That emotional stuckness can directly impact our health negatively and continue to aggravate the interpersonal conflict which initially triggered the emotions.
Every emotion has information and a gift. Recognizing, allowing and investigating those emotions can empower us to choose how we want to respond and can move us from being at the mercy of our emotions to being in mindful relationship with ourselves and others.
When you’re in a challenging relationship or experiencing interpersonal conflict, you can use the RAIN method to process those experiences to bring more mindfulness to your relationship.
Select a relationship or situation that you want to use for RAIN. Recall a particularly difficult moment in your relationship — what you thought, felt, believed and sensed — then work through the steps of RAIN as follows:
The R of RAIN means turning our focus and our attention to the thoughts, emotions, desires and sensations we’re experiencing. Questions that support this process of recognizing are:
In this stage, we’re attempting to let go of preconceived ideas of ourselves and simply be with what is, listening to ourselves. We’re also noticing that we are having an experience and what that experience is.
The A of RAIN stands for allowing and simply being with our feelings, sensations, desires. We humans tend to want to resist, step over, ignore our distressing feelings. And this stage of RAIN is about our accepting and being with what is within us. Questions for supporting this stage are:
At this point, we may have a tendency to want to act, to solve, to fix. And we can bring that into our awareness as well and allow that experience, too.
The I in RAIN is investigating. Here, we’re bringing our kind, curious attention to our internal experience. Questions for supporting this stage include:
And finally, the N of RAIN stands for nurture, where we’re moving from witnessing and investigating to actually giving ourselves compassion, giving ourselves whatever it is that we’re missing and wishing for at this moment. Perhaps it’s a gentle hand on our heart or cheek. Perhaps it’s whispered words of compassion, “It’s OK, darling. I love you.”
In the final stage of RAIN, we’re discovering what the most vulnerable part of ourselves needs to feel seen and loved, appreciated, accepted and safe.
Finally, after RAIN, amidst the new space we’ve created, we can ask ourselves, “Who am I now that I’ve let that go?” creating a new way of being.
In this video, I share a recent experience of using RAIN in my own life after a difficult exchange with my brother.
I invite you to practice RAIN using the guided meditation in this video as well.
RAIN is one of the many mindfulness techniques taught in our Mindful Relationships program that provides both inspiration and practical methodology to begin healing the relational divides within ourselves and others. To learn more about self-awareness and mindfulness programs, visit www.learninginaction.com.
I’d love to hear about your experience with RAIN — leave me a comment below.