The freezing temperatures and rain this morning creates kind of a dark and gloomy day externally just as it is easy to create a dark and gloomy interior when rain falls into our mental and emotional lives as well. My kids were very disappointed that we didn’t have a snow day today and getting them out of their pajamas into their school clothes took a bit of extra space, love and coaxing this morning. Thankfully the rain also reminds me of multiple tools I’ve gathered from many sources to combat gloomy moments in life. Moments where we need some space and love for ourselves also. Michelle McDonald, a senior mindfulness instructor coined the acronym R.A.I.N. about 20 years ago as a four step process to stop being so hard on ourselves.
R Recognize what’s going on
This is opportunity to remember to step back from the story and gain enough space to choose to respond instead of react to the situation we find ourselves in. instead of getting lost in the story, just take a moment to observe and name what is actually present (irritation, annoyance, grief, sadness, etc.).
A (Accept) Allow the experience to be there, just as it is. Be with what is present for a moment without trying to change it. Try to have self compassion instead of self criticism.
I Investigate (Inquire) with kindness and openness, not with detached intellectual analysis but with engaged gentle exploration. See if we can identify the soft feelings of hurt underneath the brittle armor of anger or irritation. Stay close to what you feel and not overanalyzing the story. How do we own this moment instead of being a victim of it, especially if our loved ones are involved?
N Natural awareness (Not-self), which comes from not identifying with the experience. “Have” a thought, feeling, or sensation, don’t “be” those things. We have thoughts but we are not our thoughts. We have feelings, but we are not our feelings. Disentangle the observer from the doer and notice that as we separate from story based descriptions like “I”, “me”, and “mine” how spaciousness gives us room to choose the life we want right now instead of dragging us along into reaction.
R.A.I.N. is one of many helpful tools to help us condition and embody mindfulness in our lives. Spaciousness is a must when the rain is falling and doesn’t seem to let up. In order to have spaciousness in our lives we have to practice it. Take some time to practice a little R.A.I.N. today to find the sunshine behind the clouds.
As I finish writing this, I’ve just been noticed by the school that they are closing at noon today. Guess my kids get that snow day after all. 🙂
Scott Martin holds a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and teaches a quarterly Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class in Tyler, Texas. For more information on developing a mindfulness practice or processing emotional trauma visit www.etsrc.org