Rain of Self-Compassion
The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion using the following four steps:
Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Nurture with self-compassion
R – Recognize What’s Going On
Recognizing means consciously acknowledging, in any given moment, the thoughts,
feelings, and behaviors that are affecting us. Like awakening from a dream, the first
step out of the trance of unworthiness is simply to recognize that we are stuck and
subject to painfully constricting beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations. Common
signs 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 whisper, noting what has come up.
A – Allow the Experience to be There, Just as It Is
Allowing means letting the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations we have
recognized 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.
Many students support their resolve to pause and let be by silently offering an encouraging word or phrase to themselves. For instance, you might feel the grip of fear and mentally whisper, Yes, or It’s ok, in order to acknowledge and accept the reality of your experience in this moment.
I – Investigate with Interest and Care
Once we have recognized and allowed what is arising, we can deepen our attention
through investigation. To investigate, call on your natural curiosity – the desire to
know truth – and direct a more focused attention to your present experience. 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 transformational if you step away from conceptualizing and bring your primary attention to the felt – sense in the body. When investigating, it is essential to approach your experience in a non-judgmental
and kind way. This attitude of care helps create a sufficient sense of safety, making
it possible to honestly connect with our hurts, fears and shame.
N – Nurture with Self-Compassion
Self-compassion begins to naturally arise in the moments that we recognize we are
suffering. It comes into fullness as we intentionally nurture 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? Of forgiveness? Of companionship? Of love? 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, and I love you. I love you, and I’m listening. It’s not your fault. Trust in your goodness.