R.A.I.N. – A Practice of Radical Compassion

Tara Brach, PhD, is an internationally known teacher of mindfulness, meditation, emotional healing, and spiritual awakening. She is an International bestselling author and offers weekly podcast talks and meditations on her podcast. In her latest book, Radical Compassion, she shared with us the acronym RAIN. It is an easy-to-remember tool for bringing mindfulness and compassion to emotional difficulty.

Tara asks in her preface, “What does it mean to live true to yourself?” Her students tell her that, “being true to themselves means being loving, present and authentic. They speak of being honest, serving others, serving the world. They talk about expressing creativity, believing in their own worthiness, and working at what they love. And about having the strength to grow beyond insecurities and to reconcile troubled relationships.” The path that can carry you home is the path of self-compassion.

Tara shares with us the gift of RAIN: living from your full potential. Saying YES to life!

Recognize what is going on;Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;Investigate with interest and care;Nurture with self-compassion.

You can take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps whenever challenging feelings arise. When you practice RAIN (or any mindfulness practice) regularly, you can successfully install a new awakening. You can discover how to maintain a balanced, openhearted presence in the midst of the storm. Practice when you feel fine and life is easy. Practice when you’re grumpy or a bit stressed. Each time you touch a state like peacefulness or strength, let the experience totally fill you; stay with it for a while. You are installing a new habit or trait.

Strengthening your inner resources can help change your brain, heal your heart, and evolve your consciousness.

R—Recognize What’s Going On

Recognizing means consciously acknowledging, in any given moment, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are affecting you. What is going on inside of you? This can be done with a simple mental whisper, noting what you are most aware of.

A—Allow the Experience to be There, Just as It Is

Allowing means letting the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you have recognized simply be there, without trying to fix or avoid anything. Even though you may not like what you are feeling, this step is to allow the feelings and let them be without judgment or the need to fix or change anything. This step asks you to “let be” whatever is happening. Allowing creates a pause that makes it possible to deepen attention.

I—Investigate with Interest and Care

To investigate, call on your natural curiosity—the desire to know truth—and direct more focused attention to your present experience. You will investigate with gentle, curious attention. 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. Instead of thinking about what’s going on, keep bringing your attention to your body, directly contacting the felt sense and sensations of your most vulnerable place. Once you are fully present, listen for what this place truly needs to begin healing.

N—Nurture with Self-Compassion

Self-compassion and loving presence begin to naturally arise in the moments that you recognize you are suffering. It comes into fullness as you intentionally nurture your 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.

In addition to a whispered message of care, many people find healing by gently placing a hand on the heart or cheek; or by envisioning being bathed in or embraced by warm, radiant light. If it feels difficult to offer yourself love, bring to mind a loving being—spiritual figure, family member, friend or pet—and imagine that being’s love and wisdom flowing into you.

After the RAIN

When you’ve completed the active steps of RAIN, notice the quality of your own presence and rest in that wakeful, tender space of awareness. Come back to this practice as often as you like with love and compassion, resilience and grace.