Wellbeing & Recovery

It’s RAIN-ing Mindfulness

The mindful RAIN acronym, with graphic of rainbow, rain, and umbrella

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.

Rain acronym

R: Recognition

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.

A: Acceptance

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.

I: Investigation

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.

N: Nonidentification

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

Tara Brach, the author of Radical Acceptance and Radical Compassion, put her own twist on RAIN by changing the N to nurture with self-compassion. She writes:

“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.

34 thoughts on “It’s RAIN-ing Mindfulness”

  1. I don’t get mindfulness but I (think) I understand how it might help some people. I don’t get meditation either. Guided meditations make me totally crazy, I just want them to SHUT UP. The one you posted isn’t bad at all in that respect and there is no annoying music. I don’t get any of this –

    1. I think that at its simplest, mindfulness is being able to enjoy your fun curtains rather than being too distracted to notice them or too busy worrying about what might go wrong with them or who might judge them. Everything else is extra fluff.

      1. I do all those things, all at once or in a row but always start and end with – Dang, I love these curtains! (Yup, I’m still fascinated by these silly curtains – hard to not notice them since they take up 17 feet of window).

  2. I use RAIN when faced with binge eating disorder. Identifying the thoughts that happen during cravings to binge has been very helpful in making a plan to overcome it.

  3. While I’ve come across all of the elements included in mindfulness, I hadn’t come across the RAIN approach/acronym before. I like the part about not enveloping the ‘ugh’ in a bear hug 😂 I want to squash the life out of the ‘ugh’ with my bare arms!

  4. I find it hard to accept anxiety and ‘negative’ feelings, I think it takes a lot of practice to look at it dispassionately. Sometimes I think it’d be a good experience to go to a meditation retreat and get more in to it.

  5. Great post, Ashley. I listen to Tara Brach’s podcast every so often, she’s great.

    I don’t meditate as much as I used to, but I feel that mindfulness is very helpful in managing mental health and distress. Mindfulness is also one of the elements of DBT therapy.

  6. I found RAIN helpful when I was working with patients and they gave positive feedback. I try to use it myself when I’m not racing around trying to everything…………… a post I’m writing at the moment. I might even finish it.

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