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Struggling with your emotions? Let it RAIN.

Continuing from yesterday’s post, RAIN is another technique recommended by Dr. Santos for becoming more resilient in tough times. Like other forms of meditation, it is a way of bringing awareness to our lives.

So many of us operate on autopilot as we live out our days. Even when we react to situations with anxiety or stress, we aren’t always aware of the specific feelings and the reasons behind them, as much as we are responding to them in repetitive, unconscious ways.

Feel anxiety? Scroll through some social media posts, binge watch Netflix, or eat an entire bag of potato chips, and hours later you’ll have successfully distracted yourself from the uncomfortable feelings, without ever having to acknowledge them or consider what was making you feel that way.

The process known as RAIN offers an alternative and more mindful way to react to difficult feelings. It is a practice for consciously considering and choosing our thoughts and beliefs, instead of continuing to live on autopilot.

The acronym and practice comes from Tara Brach, a psychologist, author and teacher who founded the Insight Meditation Community in Washington D.C. Brach uses the acronym to describe the four-step process for coping with challenging emotions: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture, or RAIN.

In her book Radical Compassion, she describes RAIN this way. “Simply put,” she writes, “RAIN awakens mindfulness and compassion, applies them to the places where we are stuck, and untangles emotional suffering.”

The process begins with recognizing the emotions you’re feeling, but to do that, you need to be aware of them.

While that sounds simple — we know how we feel, right? — it’s often not.

We have become so good at burying our emotions that it takes repeated practice and intention to stop in the moment of experiencing a difficult feeling to be able to acknowledge it and recognize it for what it is.

After recognition, the next three steps in the process are what helps us, over repeated practice, live more mindfully and with more loving-kindness and compassion.

As Brach writes, “The practice of RAIN…lets us reconnect with presence and our naturally caring hearts.”

If you’d like to try the practice, you can find more information on each of the steps on Brach’s website.

Or, if you’d like to dive even deeper, see her books Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN, and Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha.

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