Turning toward our feelings with curiosity and compassion
Our minds are habituated to resist and avoid the experience of the present moment. We often respond to strong feelings by distracting ourselves in order to avoid discomfort and pain. When avoidance turns into a habit, we develop a “fear of fear”, which limits our freedom.
By suppressing feelings, we also strangle the energetic charge they carry. The energy gets stuck in our bodies, waiting to be expressed. Unless we learn to make room for the energy behind emotions, they tend to wear us down or erupt in moments of overwhelm.
If we want to reconnect with the world – and our hearts – we need to be able to hold ourselves in the midst of strong feelings. Only when we can show up to our experience with equanimity and compassion will we be able to cut through the unconscious pattern of avoidance.
Mindfulness and self compassion give us the strength we need to remain honest and open to our vulnerabilities. When we can turn toward our feelings with curiosity and loving awareness, we begin to heal and discover the power that lies underneath. The practice of RAIN helps us embrace what has been neglected so we can begin to heal the wounded parts within ourselves.
Strengthening the muscle of self-compassion
“RAIN” is a practice that has been developed for this purpose. It helps us cut through confusion and stress by tending to our vulnerability with care and curiosity. Learning to acknowledge what is happening with honesty builds confidence that enables us to release emotional suffering.
R – Recognise what is happening. Notice the feelings that are arising – “what is happening inside me right now?”.
A – Allow it to be just as it is, without trying to fix it or change it. Agree to be with whatever arises, with a sense of honesty. You might note to yourself “this is here right now”, “it’s alright” or “I can let it be”. This does not mean that we force ourselves to like with the situation, or that we agree with our judgements of being unworthy. It means that we acknowledge that the judgements and underlying feelings have arisen. We tend to them with gentleness and honesty.
I – Investigate the inner experience with kindness. Call on your natural curiosity and desire to know the truth – how is the energy experienced in your body? What is the felt sense in this moment? What needs my attention? Try to tend to yourself with a kind and gentle attention.
N – Non-identification is the realisation that your pain is not who you ultimately are. There is room inside you for self-judgement, fear, anxiety, or whatever is arising. Feelings are like waves appearing in your awareness. You can rest as the ocean with a sense of spaciousness – there is space for the experience to express itself and pass through. This step is not an activity, but may come as result of the previous steps.
RAIN meditation – 12 minutes:
Self forgiveness meditation – 10 minutes:
Over the last several decades, through my work with tens of thousands of clients and meditation students, I’ve come to see the sense of personal deficiency as epidemic.– Tara Brach
You may also want to try this version of the RAIN practice: “RAIN of self compassion“.
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