Category Archives: Fear

Blog: Turning Toward Fear with RAIN



Turning Toward Fear with RAIN

Adapted from Tara’s new book –
Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of R.A.I.N. 

In a far-off land, word spread far and wide of a holy man with magic so powerful it could relieve the most severe suffering. After seekers of healing traveled through the wilderness to reach him, he’d swear them to secrecy about what was next to pass between them. Once they took the vow, the holy man asked a single question: What are you unwilling to feel?

Learning to directly face anxiety and fear with the RAIN meditation—Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture—gives you a pathway to inner transformation and a fearless heart.

Recognizing the Trance

After a daylong seminar on RAIN and stress, Brianna came up to me and asked for some help with a personal situation. She’d recently been hired as a marketing vice-president in a large corporation, but she felt intimidated by the CEO, who was very quick to cut off anyone who he felt was wasting his time. He ruled over the weekly staff meetings, which Brianna described as “torture” that put her into a state of “brain freeze.”

“I shouldn’t be worried about my competence,” she said. “I was recruited because I got an industry award at my last job. But the atmosphere here is totally different—really corporate, and the other VPs pretty much ignore me. I just go back to my office with my stomach churning and wonder how long I’ll last.”

I suggested that Brianna practice RAIN for a few minutes right before each meeting and asked her what was going on for her at that time.

“On those mornings I can really feel the anxiety building, and it lands me in a frenzy of busyness . . . reviewing reports, marking what I might need to comment on . . . nothing really productive.”

I smiled because I recognized that feeling all too well. “Okay, so before you start RAIN, imagine you’re pressing the pause button on that frenzy.” Brianna closed her eyes and pictured herself at her desk, a half-hour before the weekly meeting.

“As you pause,” I said, “your first job is to Recognize (R) the anxiety and Allow (A) it to be there.” After she nodded, I added, “Now, what do you notice if you bring your attention and interest to how it feels in your body?”

Beginning to Investigate (I), she muttered, “dry mouth . . . really tight chest . . . heart hammering . . . and, oh yeah, my stomach’s in knots.” I suggested she place her hand on her abdomen and send her breath there with a long slow inflow and outflow. This would to help her steady her attention and stay in contact with the fear.

What Does this Most Need?

Now I guided her to ask the scared place inside her what it needed most, a key inquiry in Investigating. After a moment, she looked up, surprised. “It said, ‘let it be ok that I’m here.’”

The Nurturing (N) that scared place needed was to be accepted, not to be made wrong. I asked Brianna how the wisest, kindest part of her wanted to respond. Could she find a way to acknowledge this very vulnerable part of herself with compassion?

She sat quietly, still breathing slowly, her hand on her belly. Then she nodded. “I just sent the message—it’s ok, this belongs. And . . . it does feel more ok. I’m actually a bit more relaxed.”

This became Brianna’s RAIN practice each week before going to the staff meeting. And when she felt anxiety spiking during the meeting, she’d simply breathe into it and send the message—It’s ok.

The freedom of This Belongs

About three months later, Brianna updated me. Her tension around the CEO hadn’t disappeared, but her anxiety had lessened somewhat. More important, it didn’t feel like such a big deal: “I’m not so alarmed when I get anxious,” she told me. “I was fighting it so hard, but now it’s ok that it’s there. That really does free me up.” She also shared some real progress in making creative contributions and connecting with others.

Asking yourself “what am I unwilling to feel?” can open you to deep spiritual healing. Fear is the feeling that something is wrong and that, rather than facing it, we need to act to protect ourselves. When, instead, we have the courage to pause and meet fear with the mindfulness and compassion of RAIN, our awareness and wisdom enlarges. If we need to respond to a threat, we’ll do so—with increased balance and presence. But often we’ll see: It’s just anxiety, it’s ok . . . this belongs—and begin to unhook from a lifetime pattern of reactivity. While fears continue to arise, we have access to a heart space that is open and free.

Adapted from Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Ourselves and Our World with the Practice of RAIN, Tara Brach (Viking, 2019).

Brach, T. (2019). Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of Rain. New York, NY: Viking Life.

More Resources on RAIN here.



Part 1 – The Answer is Love:  Evolving out of “Bad Other”



These two talks address the inquiry: How do we awaken from the contempt and hatred that causes so much suffering in our world? The first talk looks at how we can use the practices of mindfulness and compassion to decondition our habits of self-blame and self-hatred, as well as the importance of helping each other defuse the trance of unworthiness. The second talk extends the use of these practices to situations where we’ve locked into external “bad othering.” These times need our deepened dedication to love: By intentionally arousing compassion for ourselves and others, we directly contribute to the evolution of consciousness in our world.

Listen and view Part 2 here.

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”
~ Edwin Markham


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The Courage to Love – Part 1



The gateway to full intimacy and love is our capacity to open to vulnerability. These two talks look at our ways of avoiding vulnerability, and offer guidance in learning to contact and transform our fears into awake and loving presence.

We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are
when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved
and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed
and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time…
Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world
but to unglove ourselves so that the door knob feels cold
and the car handle feels wet
and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being
soft and unrepeatable.

~ Mark Nepo, from The Book of Awakening


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Transforming Two Fears: FOF and FOMO



[CC] ~ Two common fears can block us from our full potential – fear of failure (FOF), and fear of missing out (FOMO). This talk explores how to meet these fears with mindful presence, and discover within them the essence energies of loving awareness and full aliveness (a favorite from the archives).

Note – This talk is dedicated to Tim Ferriss, who turned me on to the phrase FOMO. Tim exemplifies the creative aliveness of FOMO energy when it’s living through someone who’s dedicated to being awake, caring and real. Check out his interview with Tara at: https://youtu.be/pXNEM4wjSmE and his podcast at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast/.


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Part 2 – Healing Anxiety – How Meditation Frees Us



Anxiety and the fear of failure is a pervasive suffering around the world. It is also increasing—along with the pace of life, over-consuming, addiction, noise, polarization and fears for our planet. How do we calm ourselves in a way that brings inner freedom and serves the healing of our larger world? These two talks explore the power of awareness in evolving ourselves beyond the anxiety that grips and confines our lives – part 2 includes working with sleep issues.

Listen: Part 1 – Healing Anxiety – How Meditation Frees Us

Meditation: Relaxing by Day, Sleeping at Night (no bell at end) (14:23 min)

Visit Community Wisdom on Sleep

Now close your eyes
Sleep

Shut out the world from the dark sweet freshening
of your quiet hearts
Lie loose in the deep waters
Do not be afraid to
give yourselves up to drowning in undefended rest

A.R. Ammons
The Watch


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Tara Talks: When Fear is No Longer the Enemy (6:01 min.)



When we are identified with the body of fear, our survival strategies take over. It takes courage to step out of this conditioned reactivity and come into direct contact with how the fear feels in our bodies. The identification loosens when we pause and bring kindness to the life that’s right here.

Listen and watch the full talk: Attend and Befriend: Healing the Fear Body



Part 1 – Healing Anxiety – How Meditation Frees Us



Anxiety and the fear of failure is a pervasive suffering around the world. It is also increasing—along with the pace of life, over-consuming, addiction, noise, polarization and fears for our planet. How do we calm ourselves in a way that brings inner freedom and serves the healing of our larger world? These two talks explore the power of awareness in evolving ourselves beyond the anxiety that grips and confines our lives.

Listen: Part 2 – Healing Anxiety – How Meditation Frees Us

Visit: Community Wisdom on Sleep

“Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.”

Excerpt From: Coleman Barks. “The Essential Rumi – reissue.”

More Resources ~ RAIN: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture.


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Tara Talks: I Am Not the Fear Body (6:08 min.)



Unprocessed fear creates separation and keeps us from inhabiting the truth of our belonging. When we open to the body of fear with a gentle, mindful awareness, our sense of being enlarges. We realize that the fear is not who we are and rediscover our belonging to presence, love and life.

Listen and watch the full talk: Attend and Befriend: Healing the Fear Body



Tara Talks: [Guided Reflection] Coming Home with Attend and Befriend (6:34 min.)



When are caught in our conditioned escape strategies, we feel separated from what we most care about. In moments when we deepen our attention and bring a kind presence to the life inside of us, we come home to the truth of our belonging.

Listen and watch Tara’s full talk: Attend and Befriend: Healing the Fear Body



Tara Talks: Healing the Fear Body, Healing the World (4:50 min.)



When we are contracted in the fear body, we cannot be touched by the world around us. We lose our sense of belonging to this moment, to each other, to the earth. When we find ourselves living in the body of fear, it is a call to deepen attention. What’s between me and being open to the life that’s right here?

Watch and listen to the full talk: Attend and Befriend: Healing the Fear Body