RAIN meditation was originally created and introduced by mindfulness teacher Michele McDonald 20 years ago. Michele is a quiet and respected spiritual teacher who shares her wisdom and practice across the globe and has expanded RAIN meditation to RAINDROP.
I share this as I have always experienced RAIN meditation led by meditation teacher and the author of Radical Compassion, Tara Brach.
As Tara guides her RAIN method, you are invited to recall with mindful awareness a painful moment or negative emotion in your life and then a gentle release and rain of self-compassion.
The acronym RAIN… Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture… provides easy steps – no special equipment required – to step into self-compassion. It’s a beautiful mindfulness practice.
A number of Buddhist teachers embrace and use the mindfulness practice of RAIN meditation as a tool to bring awareness and healing to difficult emotions, present moment, and inner experience.
The simple steps of this process, and guided meditation make this a powerful and approachable meditation for first time meditators as well as experienced practitioners.
I hope you will try it and find out for yourself!
My Personal Rain Story
Let me share from my own heart a little bit about rain and how I feel about nature’s liquid vitality.
As a child, I remember loving to run through the summer rain and jump in puddles. What was it about wearing rain boots that made me feel so untouchable? Oh, and swimming in the rain! Remember a cool summer rain and swimming in the pool and how warm the water felt? If you had that experience, wasn’t it fun!?
Or simply dancing in the rain… isn’t that what life is all about?!
I’m not sure I knew it at the time, but I certainly knew it was fun to play in the rain… it just felt good. So freeing and refreshing! I can sense it in my heart now, visualizing it, a felt sense of joy and ease.
We should all play in the rain more!
Watching the rain or being in the rain is an emotional experience for me. I’m not talking about the kind of rain you get caught in when your hands are full of paper grocery bags, and the grocery store parking lot is flooding out, and your car is 20 parking spots from the door. Nope… that kind of rain, while an emotional experience, is not the kind of rain I am talking about here.
I’m talking about the cleansing and peaceful rain, the kind that brings you quickly into the present moment, maybe even a quiet place in your own heart…. awe… lower blood pressure, and a felt sense of refresh washes over me just thinking about a gentle rain.
The smell of fresh earth, and the image of little birds splashing in puddles, the droplets of rain rolling off leaves, the world washed and fresh ready to begin again.
One of the first meditations I ever shared with others was my version of a rain practice or rain meditation. I didn’t use a rain acronym, rather I sat on my covered front porch as the cooling rain fell on the trees on a hot summer day, and I recorded a 3-minute mindfulness meditation inspired by the true nature of rain. Listen to it here.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of time out of our daily lives to settle into a safe place, take a few deep breaths and use nature as a guided meditation. I hope you will try it the next time it rains … or create your own rain practice.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a warm sunny day and a bright clear sky, and I love the kind of inner listening rain offers. Does anyone else get the felt sense that rain is talking to you and offering full permission to pause, refresh, and just be?
Awe, deep breath in, yes!
RAIN Meditation Practice
If RAIN meditation is a new mindfulness tool for you, get ready to hug and nurture any negative emotions, unpleasant feelings, or unhealthy doubt you may be holding onto. Well, that’s how I experience RAIN practice anyway.
There are 4 steps of RAIN. Let’s look at each of the steps of RAIN meditation one by one.
R – Recognize.
You begin here and are gently guided to see an experience or scene that is presenting a challenge at work or with your health, a behavior you are struggling with, or difficult emotion that is weighing you down. As you explore that scene in your minds eye, you recognize and label the emotion that comes up – for example, fear, anger, sadness – and whisper that emotion to yourself several times.
Recognizing the emotion present allows you to see, experience, and feel the emotion while inviting space and compassion and non-judgment while bringing and supporting yourself in the present moment.
For me, this first step can bring up unpleasant feelings, and yet with practice, I find it has a sacredness and kind presence in the space you are creating.
A – Allow.
Notice the word is “allow”, not “push”. Yes, I need to remind myself of this too.
Let what you are feeling, pleasant feelings or not, be felt and unjudged. We are so programmed to push past what we don’t want to experience (can you relate?), and this (sometimes not so easy step in the RAIN meditation), can create stress or incessant worry.
It may not even be a conscious push, which makes this step a core practice and an important step of the RAIN meditation. Emotions need to be allowed to be present, and they are powerful teachers if we let them.
Practice giving the emotion and how you experience it to be present. You may just find that honoring it can even soften and ease the emotion.
Sometimes, I find there can even be a physical response and desire to literally move away. Breath can be a powerful practice to help you stay with the present feels.
Simply noticing your inhales and exhales while allowing the emotion can support you in what is the reality of the moment. The breath may even support the emotion moving on or releasing stress and unpleasant feelings.
I – Investigate.
To me, investigation means or could also be called intimate. Call it what works for you, either way, get curious and ask yourself, “When I am experiencing this emotion, what am I believing?”
Sense where the body is communicating with you. In other words, where do you feel the emotion in the body? Maybe you feel it in the heart or throat, maybe the hips or pelvis. Finding stillness and getting curious – investigating – what is coming up for you is what this step is all about.
As the body reflects the negative emotion you are practicing being with, keep breathing. Maybe even smile.
N – Nurture.
It’s time to send love to your difficult emotion or stress. During our everyday life, we don’t often pause or honor ourselves. The last step of the rain practice completes with placing your hand on your heart and nurturing you.
I love placing my hand on my heart here as a reminder to stay in this quiet place and take the time to give myself love. Use the compassion in your heart to send love to the negative emotion and unconscious patterns that you have sat with during the steps of rain meditation.
You may say to yourself:
- “It’s all ok”
- “Trust your goodness”
- “I am doing my best”
- “It’s ok to feel loved”
- “I am here with you”
- “I love you”
You may just have a physical response, a tear in the eye, a release of emotion or stress. Just be.
As a flower receives nature’s liquid vitality after a rain, receive the nurturing of this practice. Observe and absorb the space, lightness, and release of the rain practice.
Can you see where you could incorporate this into your daily life? What if you checked in with your emotions on a daily basis? What do you think you would learn about yourself?
A kind of inner listening. Would it shift you to respond more and react less?
Ask a family member or friend to join you for a week of experimenting with RAIN meditation. Help keep each other accountable and share what you learn.
I am not suggesting a deep spiritual path (although if that calls to you, please explore that), but maybe you will become part of a mindfulness movement that changes how you go through life.
If you’d like to know more about RAIN meditation, I recommend checking out Tara Brach’s book “True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart”
Let me know how you decide to dance in the rain!
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