Feeling Stressed? Try R.A.I.N.
Normally when we encounter a stressor, we react in a habitual, mindless way, which tends to increase (or even cause) suffering. R.A.I.N. is an elegant process that can help us see more clearly and transform our relationship with difficult situations.
WHAT DOES IT STAND FOR?
R -- Recognize what is happening
A -- Allow things to be exactly as they are
I -- Investigate
N -- Non-identification
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The next time you get triggered by something, stop and take a deep breath and recognize what is happening... internally, not externally! You want to look at the specifics of the actual experience and not get carried away by the story you're telling yourself about the experience. You can check in with the body, the mind and emotions. It can sometimes to be helpful to label things. For example:
-- Anger is arising (vs. I am angry)
-- My jaw is tight (vs. I feel stressed or I feel horrible)
-- I'm telling myself a story that this is unfair (vs. This is unfair)
Remember that it's more about how you're reacting and the meaning you're giving the situation rather than the situation itself.
Allowing doesn't mean we have to like what is happening. But our natural tendency is to fight with reality in a difficult situation and this compounds the suffering. We can find the middle ground and let things be exactly as they are, observing the external circumstance and our reaction to it. There is tremendous freedom in not needing anything to be different, if even for a moment.
This is taking the recognition a step deeper and is best done with kindness and curiosity. You might want to look underneath the storyline you are telling yourself to get a clearer picture of why you reacted the way you did. Maybe this is an old story. Maybe it got started when you were young and felt you needed to protect yourself.
You might want to investigate the sensations in the body more deeply. Perhaps your heart is racing or you can feel your blood pressure rising.You can investigate your emotions more deeply as well. Is there a sub-emotion, like maybe sadness under anger? Or is shame side-by-side with anxiety? The more clearly you can see your reactions and your patterns, the more ease you can have in the stressful moments.
Everything arises and passes away, including thoughts, emotions and difficult situations. You are not your thoughts, your body or your emotions. You are much more expansive.
You can learn to tap into that witness deep inside who can watch the storm swirling around but be untouched. There can be deep peace in the non-identification even though the external circumstance might be exactly the same and you might even be experiencing the same emotions and having the same thoughts.
You can watch, with your kind curiosity, as everything swirls around, like storm clouds across a sky, knowing that everything will eventually clear again. This non-identification helps to allow the clouds to keep moving through instead of getting stuck.
You can use the R.A.I.N. method anytime you feel yourself getting stressed, annoyed or reactive. The more you use this, the more clarity you will have about your unique reaction. Since the only way out is through, it is important to look deeply at how we react to those things that trigger us. Otherwise, we'll just keep falling in the same holes and our moods will be left to the whims of external circumstances.
R.A.I.N. (first coined by Michele McDonald) and other related mindfulness practices can help you cultivate new and skillful ways of relating to yourself and your life.
I invite you to explore it.
Join the Mindfulness + Magic community here.
HuffPost's GPS for the Soul app is based on two truths about human beings. First: We all have a centered place of wisdom, harmony and balance within us. Second: We're all going to veer away from that place, again and again and again. What we need is a great course-correcting mechanism -- a GPS for the Soul -- to help us find our way back to that centered place, from which everything is possible.
Because no one knows better than you what helps you de-stress and tap into that place of peace inside yourself, it's important for you to create your very own GPS guide -- a personalized collection of whatever helps you course-correct. Email us at GPS@huffingtonpost.com and we'll set you up with your very own HuffPost blogger account to share your guide on the site. If you're already a blogger, we encourage you to upload your personal guide today. We can't wait to see what you have to share.