My friends at WeDIDitPTSD recently brought up Jack Kornfield‘s approach to RAIN, a mindfulness meditation for dealing with overwhelm, and I thought I’d explore that further in a post. RAIN, which is based on Buddhist teachings, was first described by Insight Meditation Society teacher Michele McDonald.
The R is about exploring what’s going on for you right now. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to want it to be there, but give it a wave and say hello, you see it.
Recognition can come with a sense of resistance, or ugh, I don’t want that here. Acceptance moves toward that ugh rather than away, and thus is an active rather than passive stance. You’re not enveloping the ugh in a bear hug, but you’re saying here I am, and I see you. It can start to make the problem you’re facing look more workable.
This is about looking more deeply inward. What thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations are present? As you investigate, refrain from judging what you find along the way.
This step is about not making the challenging experience a part of you. According to Jack Kornfield, “We see how identification creates dependence, anxiety, and inauthenticity. In practicing nonidentification, we inquire of every state, experience, and story, is this who I really am?”
This seems very similar to the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) concept of cognitive defusion, which is about de-fusing from your thoughts rather than getting hooked by them.
The self-compassion version
“To do this, try to sense what the wounded, frightened or hurting place inside you most needs, and then offer some gesture of active care that might address this need. Does it need a message of reassurance? Of forgiveness? Of companionship? Of love? Experiment and see which intentional gesture of kindness most helps to comfort, soften or open your heart.”
She also adds an “after the RAIN” step of recognizing that “you are no longer imprisoned in the trance of unworthiness, or in any limiting sense of self.”
Do you RAIN?
I don’t meditate, but I’m generally pretty self-reflective, and the investigation part I’m reasonably good at. I’ve gotten better at accepting, but i think that will always be a work in progress. Self-compassion I’m pretty good with, while non-identification I would say is also an ongoing work in progress.
Do you practice RAIN or use any of its elements?
This video is a RAIN meditation guided by Tara Brach.