“RAIN” is a well-known meditation acronym that stands for Recognize, Accept, Investigate and Non-Identify. It’s a helpful way to explore – and, sometimes, process – any sensation, thought, or emotion. Even hard ones.
The practice helps in a couple of ways. First, it boosts our emotional literacy. Instead of being lost inside a big reaction, we learn to stop and get curious about our own idiosyncratic “tells” – the many subtle tics and contractions that are our particular body’s way of saying: “I’m feeling over here!” In this way, we learn to catch our emotional reactions early, and not, in teacher Sharon Salzberg’s excellent words, “fifteen consequential actions later.”
And there’s a second way it helps. The fruit of meditation isn’t just less emotional reactivity. It’s also having fewer negative emotions in the first place. The more we practice observing our emotional habits, the less potent they become.
This process of catharsis (or “purification” to use the creepy contemplative term) is fascinating. We can begin to experience in real time painful bits of old conditioning softening and falling away. In the meditative journey, this is often paired with a lovely feeling of intimacy with the space that surrounds and permeates our experience. Space – and not sensation – becomes the new baseline we learn to operate from. It may sound bonkers, but this is the experience a great many practitioners report.
A more detailed description of each step of this meditation can be found in the “Pandora’s Box” chapter of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. And a live, far more intimate version of the practice can be found here.