After loss the world can feel like one big minefield of emotional triggers. Sounds, smells, familiar places, foods, songs, there are countless things that can start an emotional cascade which, in a matter of seconds, can break you down.
We’ve talked previously about using the mindfulness technique of focusing on your breathing during moments of emotional overwhelm, but if you’d like to take that a step further the R.A.I.N. method of mindfulness, is useful in examining, and better understanding, what you’re feeling rather than just having that feeling take over. It’s great for moments of anxiety, frustration, or any emotional overwhelm.
RAIN practice was originally identified roughly 20 years ago by Michele McDonald and has four steps:
Recognize what’s happening
Allow what’s happening to happen, just as it is
Investigate what’s happening with equanimity
Non-identify with what’s happening
I know that sounds pretty abstract so let’s take it step by step.
R: Recognize what’s happening
This involves being very conscious of exactly what’s happening around you and how you’re reacting to it. Rather than existing entirely inside the emotion, you look at the way you’re feeling right now. Simply identifying your emotions can reduce their power.
A: Allow what’s happening to happen, just as it is
Now that you identify and see what you’re experiencing, give yourself permission to experience these emotions and physical reactions without judgment. Permit yourself to let the emotions unfold, as they are. Some people us the work “accept” here, as in “I see that I’m sad and a little scared and I accept it. It’s okay to feel this way.”
I: Investigate what’s happening with equanimity
First, equanimity means, “evenness of mind especially under stress.” So be gentle with yourself here as you use your senses to detect how this emotion feels in your body. As objectively as possible, and with compassion, examine what brought about the emotions or thoughts you’re experiencing. Do you believe the thought or feeling to be true? Do these thoughts or feelings bring up other thoughts and feelings? What are those? When you find suffering within yourself offer that suffering compassion, like you would for a friend.
N: Non-identify with what’s happening
Who you are is not defined by a momentary thought or emotion. You’ve recognized the emotion, allowed it to unfold, and looked at it as objectively as you are able, now you can reassure yourself that this emotion is something that you experienced, it is not who you are.
You can use RAIN at any time and it can help you move from feeling like a victim of your emotions or thoughts toward making use of those emotions to better understand what kind of care you need from yourself. It’s not completely easy at first, when you’re feeling highly emotional, to refocus your thoughts toward RAIN, but with practice it gets easier and can become incredibly comforting. Especially when you know that the result will be liberating yourself from being defined by your suffering.
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