Most of us are the furthest thing from our own best friends. The greatest battles we face in life are often the battles in our own heads. So…how do we escape this “trance of unworthiness” as Tara Brach calls it?
A low-grade (or sometimes explicit) sense of “not-good-enough”, toxic self-criticism and shame are almost universal. Do you beat yourself up? Are you hard on yourself? Are you holding back in insecurity?
Life inevitably throws us curve balls. To build resilience and gracefully manage any difficult situation, we need to train our mind with reliable psychological tools and replace heavy-handed criticism with tenderness, kindness and appreciation.
Perhaps the cornerstone of emotional intelligence is cultivating the “Witness Mind” (mindfulness) and a self-inquiry practice to observe and become curious about our mental patterns and beliefs so we can liberate ourselves from them.
Another key is to offer ourselves self-compassion in the face of challenge.
When we extend tenderness and non-judgment towards ourselves (and others), we learn to appreciate our efforts and resist the “trance of unworthiness”.
This RAIN Meditation elegantly combines both.
Here’s a simple, rock-solid guided meditation to help manage your emotions, reframe the narrative and relieve stress. It’s called the RAIN Meditation Technique popularized by Tara Brach.
I’m currently completing a 2 yr. Meditation and Mindfulness Training Certification with my beloved teachers Tara and Jack Kornfield.
Last week, I led this RAIN Meditation and it was so powerful that I wanted to share it with you.
RAIN is an acronym that stands for:
R – RECOGNIZE
A – ACCEPT. ALLOW.
I – INQUIRE with INTEREST
N – NURTURE + NON-IDENTIFICATION
Here’s how it works:
Observe and simply note any thoughts, feelings, sensations that arise. You may wish to think of this as data collection. Simply “noting” what is – without a need to interpret or judge – builds neutrality. Acknowledge what is. Recognize all that arises.
You may wish to add a mental or verbal note that helps to register your data entry.
Simply stating in a mental whisper one or two words to describe your observations. For example:
Allowing means that we let thoughts, feelings, sensations be as they are. We let go of any need to fix, change, adapt or avoid anything. No need to push or resist. Allowing things to be as they are does not mean we agree with them. Instead, we honestly acknowledge their existence.
For example, if you notice your “Inner Critic” or “Judger” starting to erupt, allow and acknowledge this without buying into the self-critical thoughts. Just observe the harsh inner critic at play.
Again, you may wish to offer a simple affirmation or word in acknowledgment. You can mentally whisper: “yes”, or “It’s ok.” I like to state “Let” on the inhale and “Be” on the exhale.
A key component of mindfulness is self-inquiry. Once we recognize and allow things to be as they are we continue to the next step which is to inquire. Becoming curious about how our thoughts or actions affect us leads to insight.
We start with the fresh curiosity of the “Beginner’s Mind”. Direct your attention with more focus and one-pointedness to become more present to this nuanced layers of your experience.
You may ask:
Aim to focus on the felt-sense of your inquiry/meditation in your body.
Once you recognize your suffering, practice extending compassion and self-nurturance. As you identify unwholesome patterns, extend a kind word, thought or gesture to yourself.
Think of this as replacement therapy. Interrupt an unhealthy pattern with loving-kindness and compassion. Notice the analytical or critical mind and replace it with a softened perception.
You may say something to yourself like:
I also suggest embodying this positive sentiment with a physical gesture. You may want to place a hand on your heart or on your belly. Visualize golden or rose-gold light flowing through you or emanating from you. Try gently meeting your own gaze in a mirror and offering the kind statement to yourself.
N also stands for Non-Identification. We loosen our identification with an event, feeling or thought and widen our lens to perceive ourselves as the infinite, wise being that we are. We nurture ourselves when we cultivate this enlarged view of Self.
You are who you ARE. Not what you do, think or feel.
Take a few minutes to rest with yourself and settle into this newfound peace. Appreciate your efforts for taking a few minutes of self-care and tenderness to strengthen your relationship to yourself.