R.A.I.N. is an acronym for an insight/vipassana meditation technique created by meditation teacher Michelle McDonald and further developed by the meditation teacher Tara Brach. It is a powerful way to expand self-awareness, especially when faced with challenging situations, emotions, sensations and thoughts. Sometimes, through the development of our psyche and the unmindful busyness of our lives, we become blind to the deeper influences and motivations that are moving us. These hidden emotions and intentions become the source of habitual reactions, feelings of inadequacy, hurt, anger and sadness. The RAIN technique is a way to bring these buried emotions, sensations and thoughts to the light of our awareness, in a place of safety and compassion.
The process is similar to the STOP technique, as it begins with pausing to allow yourself to take stock with what is actually happening and ends with an expansion of natural awareness, which occurs after pausing and gently turning your attention inward. The difference between STOP and RAIN is that this technique allows for a gentle investigation into what emotions, sensations or thoughts are occurring within you in the present moment.
R - Recognize
Ask yourself: What is happening inside right now?
Recognize what it is you are experiencing. Utilize your natural ability to explore as you focus inward. Let go of any preconceived ideas you may have about the emotion, sensation or thought you are experiencing and listen with a kind, receptive regard to your body, heart and mind. Just bring whatever you are experiencing in the moment to your awareness.
A - Allow
Allow whatever emotions, sensations or thoughts you are experiencing to be just as they are. If they are unpleasant you may experience a desire to push away from them or wish them to be different from what they are, however, if you allow them to be just as they are, you will experience a shift in attention--a deeper, more relaxed awareness will emerge. Allowing these experiences to have full presence is the beginning of acceptance, which is the path toward healing and transformation.
I - Investigate
Call upon your innate ability to be curious, your desire to understand, and direct more focused attention to your present experience. You may ask yourself, "What is happening within me right now? What wants my attention? How am I experiencing this in my body right now? What am I believing about this experience? What does this sensation want from me?
Investigate with a focused attention, but in a soft, compassionate way. If the investigation is too hard, too analytical, it can turn into a form of resistance and tamp down the experience and block awareness. This kind of investigation should involve the heart and the mind in a unified way. Be kind with yourself.
N - Not Identified (natural awareness)
The first three steps, R. A. I., require a bit of focused, intentional energy. If you are able to maintain a gentle, compassionate awareness and investigation, N. will arise all on its own. There is nothing you have to do. Having the ability to hold an emotion, sensation or thought with gentle, compassion awareness will allow you to realize that you are not your emotion, you are not the sensation, nor are you the thought that you are currently experiencing. You will no longer be wrapped up within the sensation, but able to witness the sensation moving through you. The ability to not be identified with your experience will bring to you natural awareness.
A blog by the Lotus Heart Zen Meditation and Study Group members