Rain! Of course! It’s been so much a part of our winter/spring this year! It’s already June, yet it feels like October! However…….
There’s a beautiful – and most effective – Buddhist meditation called R.A.I.N.- an acronym used to summarize the method. Essentially, it can be used to practice working with uncomfortable emotions. We -
Investigate them, and importantly –
do Not identify Ourselves with whatever negative feeling is present.
Before we explore the method, why would we want to work with negative, difficult emotions? Why not push them away? Bury them? Resolve never to go to that place again? I love what Rick Hanson has to say about this.
“In whatever way it happens, most of us end up by mid-adulthood living in the gate house, venturing out a bit, but lacking much sense of the whole estate, the great endowment of the whole psyche. Emotions are shut down, energetic and erotic wellsprings of vitality are capped, deep longings are set aside, sub-personalities are shackled and silenced, old pain and troubles are buried, the roots of reactions – hurt, anger, feelings of inadequacy – are veiled so we can’t get at them, and we live at odds with both Nature and our own nature.
Sure, the processes of the psyche need some regulation. Not all thoughts should be spoken, and not all desires should be acted upon! But if you suppress, disown, push away, recoil from, or deny major parts of yourself, then you feel cut off, alienated from yourself, lacking vital information about what is really going on inside, no longer at home in your own skin or your own mind – which feels bad, lowers effectiveness at home and work, fuels interpersonal issues, and contributes to health problems.
So what can we do? How can we reclaim, use, enjoy, and be at peace with our whole estate – without being overwhelmed by its occasional swamps and fumes?
This is where R.A.I.N. comes in.”
Notice that something is happening. That you are feeling irritation or sadness or any other negative emotion. Pause.
Take a ‘step back’ to reflect on what just happened before you notice that you are feeling this way. Try not to get caught up in the story of the feeling....the drama.
Simply label what is present. “I am feeling annoyed.” “I feel hurt.”
Allow (Accept, Acknowledge)
Be with what is happening – with what you are feeling – without trying to alter it in any way. Don’t beat yourself up. You are human. Humans FEEL.
Be interested in what you are feeling. Be curious. Notice what sensations in your body are present along with the feeling.
You are exploring YOU. Rick Hansen encourages us to be with the raw experience without psychoanalyzing ourselves.
Try not to claim the feeling as YOU. You are not a sad person. You are a person who is currently having sad feelings. There is a big difference. The sad feeling is only part of the experience of your life. Know that the feeling is only a small part of the whole person that is YOU. You are more than a sad feeling. Much, much more.
This practice – and other similar practices – help us to stay healthy mentally. And as another old song goes...
“Accentuate the positive and Eliminate the negative!”