The RAIN of Self-Compassion
Session Details - June 6th, 2016 - exploring Tara Brach's modified the practice of R.A.I.N which emphasise Self-Compassion, with the last step opening to nurturing.
‘Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment with non-judgment’ – Jon Kabat-Zinn
In our practice we are not ‘creating’ awareness as such – we are creating intimacy with awareness. Awareness is always there – like the vast and edgeless blue sky, this space can allow all our thoughts and emotions to emerge and pass through, just like the weather that passes through the blue sky. This practice of R.A.I.N can help to open to an affectionate awareness – held in our own trusting and warm embrace.
The steps of R.A.I.N give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to be mindful and to include our own hard times in our flow of compassion.
- R Recognize what is happening
- A Allow life to be just as it is
- I Investigate inner experience with kindness
- N Nurturing in self-compassion.
In most situations a mindful pause (the first 2 steps of RAIN) is enough – the ‘circuit breaker’ so to speak to bring us back to a fresh start. For those more problematic / difficult times RAIN may be the kindest / wisest self-care.
R - Recognize what’s going on, consciously acknowledging, in any given moment, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that are affecting you. Like awakening from a dream, the first step out of difficult inner conflict is simply to recognize that you are stuck, subject to painfully constricting beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations. Common triggers include a critical inner voice, feelings of shame or fear, the squeeze of anxiety or the weight of depression in the body. Recognizing can be a simple mental noting / naming what has come up.
A - Allow the experience to be there, just as it is. Allowing means letting the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you recognize simply be there, without trying to fix or avoid anything. When we’re caught in self-judgment, letting it be there doesn’t mean we agree with our conviction that we’re unworthy. Rather, we honestly acknowledge the arising of our judgment, as well as the painful feelings underneath.
I - Investigate with interest and care. Once you have recognized and allowed what is arising, deepen your attention through kindly investigation, calling on your natural curiosity - the desire to know the full picture - and gain more clarity. You might ask yourself: What most wants attention? How am I experiencing this in my body? What am I believing? What does this vulnerable place want from me? What does it most need? Whatever the inquiry, your investigation will be most helpful if you drop down from the head and bring your primary attention to the felt-sense in the body. It is essential to approach your experience in a non-judgement, this helps create a sufficient sense of safety, making it possible to honestly connect with hurts, fears and shame.
N - Nourish with self-compassion. Self-compassion begins to naturally arise in the moments that we recognize and humanize are suffering. It comes into fullness as we intentionally nourish our inner life with self-care. 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? Connection? Understanding? Experiment and see which intentional gesture of kindness most helps to comfort, soften or open your heart. It might be the mental whisper, “I’m here with you.” “I’m sorry” “It’s not your fault.” “I really care about your struggle.”
Some suggestions for practicing RAIN:
Regularly remember to pause
Give yourself the support of a regular meditation practice (start small)
Practice with the small stuff
Seek help (if you feel like what arises is too much)
Let your senses be a gateway to presence
Use the same tone to your inner voice you would for someone you love: warm and tender
Include soothing touch
Include your physical anchor – what works for you to deepen your intention to turn up for yourself