Download in PDF: Guided Reflection: Bringing RAIN to Difficulty
Guided Reflection: Bringing RAIN to Difficulty
Sitting quietly, close your eyes and take a few full
breaths. Bring to mind a current situation in which you feel stuck; one that
elicits a difficult reaction such as anger or fear, shame or hopelessness. It
may be a conflict with a family member, a chronic sickness, a failure at work,
the pain of an addiction, a conversation you now regret. Take some moments to
enter the experience—visualizing the scene or situation, remembering the words
spoken, sensing the most distressing moments. Contacting the charged essence of
the story is the starting place for exploring the healing presence of RAIN.
R: Recognize what is happening. As
you reflect on this situation, ask yourself, “What is happening inside me right
now?” What sensations are you most aware of? What emotions? Is your mind filled
with churning thoughts?
Take a moment to become aware of your “felt sense” of the
situation as a whole. Can you feel how the experience is living in your heart
and body, as well as in your mind?
A: Allow life to be just as it is.
Send a message to your heart to “let be” this entire experience. Find in
yourself the willingness to pause and accept that, in these moments that what
is…is. You can experiment with mentally whispering words like “yes,” “this
belongs,” or “let be.”
You might find yourself saying yes to a huge inner no—to
a body and mind painfully contracted in resistance. You might be saying yes
to the part of you that is saying, “I hate this!” That’s a natural part of the
At this point in RAIN, you are simply noticing what is true,
and intending not to judge, push away or control anything you find.
I: Investigate with a gentle attention.
Now begin to explore what you are experiencing more closely, calling on your
natural interest and curiosity about your inner life. You might ask yourself: What
about this most wants my attention? or What most wants my acceptance? Pose
your questions gently, your inner voice kind and inviting.
Notice where you feel the experience most distinctly in your
body. Are you aware of heat, tightness, pressure, aches, squeezing? When you
have found the most intense part of your physical experience, bring it into
your face, letting your expression mirror, and even exaggerate, what you are
feeling in your body. What emotions are you aware of as you do this? Fear?
Anger? Grief? Shame?
As you continue to investigate, you might find it helpful to
ask: What am I believing? If this leads to a lot of thinking, drop it.
But you might find that a very distinct belief emerges almost as soon as you
ask. Do you believe that you are failing in some way? That someone will reject
you? That you will not be able to handle whatever is around the corner? That
you really are flawed? That you will never be happy? How does this belief live
in your body? What are the sensations? Tightness? Soreness? Burning?
As before, send the message of yes or this belongs
or let be, allowing yourself to feel the fullness or intensity of the
difficult experience. As you contact and allow what is happening, what do you
notice? Is there any softening in your body and heart? Can you sense more
openness or space? Or does the intention to allow bring up more tension,
judgment and fear? Does it intensify or change what you are feeling?
Now ask the place of most difficulty: What do you most
need? or How do you want me to be with you? Does this suffering part
of you want understanding? Acceptance? Company? Forgiveness? Love?
N: Nurture. Let yourself attend from your most
awake and wise heart. As you sense what is needed, what is your natural
response? What does this vulnerable place most need to remember, experience or
trust? You might offer yourself a wise message, such as I’m sorry, and I
love you or Trust your goodness or It’s ok, sweetheart or I’m
here, and I’m not leaving. This place might also find touch healing, and
you might gently place your hand on your heart.
Feel free to experiment with ways of befriending your inner
life–whether through words or touch, images or energy. Discover how your
attention might become more intimate and loving.
After the RAIN. As you offer this unconditional, kind
presence to your inner life, sense the possibility of relaxing back and being
that awareness. Get familiar with the quality of presence that is here. Like an
ocean with waves on the surface, feel yourself as the tender, wakeful openness
that includes this changing life.
Can you sense how “who you are” is not identified by or
hitched to any particular wave of fear or anger or hurt? Can you sense how the
waves on the surface belong to your experience, but cannot injure or alter the
measureless depth and vastness of your being?
Take some moments, as long as you’d like, to simply rest in
this spacious and kind awareness, allowing whatever arises in your body or mind
to freely come and go. Know this natural awareness as the innermost truth of
what you are.
Adapted from True Refuge by Tara Brach
More resources on RAIN, including guided meditations here.
Meditation using RAIN in audio below and here: Meditation: The RAIN of Compassion (30:00 min.)