The R.A.I.N of Self-Compassion

The process of sitting still and being with your emotions can be extremely uncomfortable. Many of us choose to either avoid our feelings or instantly react to them without thinking, so it can be quite overwhelming in our meditation practice when we’re put in a position to just observe them as they are.

One of my favourite teachers, Tara Brach, recommends using the RAIN of Self- Compassion practice for mindfully approaching emotions. This is a practice I’ve continued to use myself time and time again as it's not only helped me to be more accepting of my emotions but has also taught me how to be less reactive to them. This practice can be used as a meditation, or you can move through the four steps as a brief exercise to help you whenever challenging feelings arise.

Recognise what’s going on.

Notice the thoughts and feelings that are present. Without immediately acting on your experience, just start to become aware of and then consciously recognise what’s coming up.

Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling.

It can be truly challenging to experience our thoughts and emotions without judgement or criticism, but as best as you can, see if you can allow yourself to just be. Instead of trying to fix what it is that you’re experiencing, begin by accepting the fact that it’s happening in the first place.

Investigate your experience with kindness and curiosity.

Once we have recognised and allowed our thoughts and emotions to be there, we can start to understand them a little better. When investigating, it’s important to approach your experience with a sense of softness and understanding. It's really easy to return to our automatic mode of reactivity when we start to explore our thoughts and emotions, so make sure to spend the most time working through this step.

Rather than trying to get to the bottom of why you’re feeling the way that you are, or how long it will last, ask yourself “what’s this like?”, “where do I feel this emotion?”, “what are the thoughts that coincide with this feeling?”. Simply observe the sensations that are present.

Nourish yourself with compassion.

Approach yourself as if you were a dear friend or loved one and start to nurture yourself with tenderness. Become aware of what this thought or emotion needs; is it forgiveness? Kindness? Patience? Love? Listen in to your inner world and offer yourself kindness. You might like to say to yourself “It’s okay”, “I’m here”, “I love you”, “I understand”. Play around with a few different phrases and see what resonates best for you in the moment. Know that even the smallest gesture of compassion will help to heal your heart.

 

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