When the rain gently drops down by our window and we start to dwell into our thoughts, one that comes to mind – in many forms – is: Can I be my own best friend? Unfortunately, this thought is often followed by feelings of sadness, hatred, or simply a sense of not knowing where to even start.
Practicing meditation is one of the ways that can help you towards radical acceptance. After emerging from Buddhism and Hinduism practices, meditation has expanded around the world – even among the most skeptical – thanks to its ability to reduce stress and nurture self-awareness. A 2019 study showed that participants who practiced meditation even just 1 hour per week had higher self-esteem, self-compassion, and felt less isolated.
However, there are many techniques out there and not all of them will be beneficial to you. Some might be too distracting or complex to follow while others will be geared towards a certain benefit like stress management. When it comes to fostering radical acceptance of the self, an approachable and beneficial method anyone can practice is the R.A.I.N meditation.
While it is soothing to sit with your thoughts and observe the rain, that isn’t what the R.A.I.N meditation is about. First introduced in the late 1990s by Michele McDonald, then promoted by Tara Brach in her book “Radical Acceptance”, The R.A.I.N method relates to a 4-steps practice
which helps you Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Not-identify with the negative emotions and experiences attached to your sense of self. Here’s how you can apply it:
R - Recognize what is happening
The R.A.I.N meditation begins when you simply take the time to recognize the thoughts and emotional waves taking over you.
- What is going on inside of me right now?
- What are the emotions attached to these thoughts?
As you start to focus on what is happening inward, you start being able to pick up physical reactions and cues, notice certain patterns, and name your emotions. Perhaps your body shakes with anxiety from feeling unworthy, or your fist tightens from anger linked to a lack of self-discipline. Whatever it is, gently focus on recognizing what is happening and once you do, you can keep diving deeper into R.A.I.N.
A - Allow the experience to be just as it is
When we move through the step of Recognition in R.A.I.N, it is common to dwell into unpleasant emotions that further resist acceptance and reinforce a negative experience. However, the R.A.I.N meditation asks instead to allow what is happening inward – thoughts and emotions alike – to just be.
Experience sadness or grief as it is. Put up with any unpleasant emotions for a little while. Let the wave submerge you because once you do, you stop ignoring the bottled-up experience that has led you to feel detached from yourself. When you allow everything to be felt and be free, you start to let go of the emotional weight that kept you down.
I - Investigate with kindness
As you go deeper into your experience, you can start to explore the 3rd stage of R.A.I.N: investigation. Investigating your emotions is done by asking yourself why.
- Why do I feel this way about a situation or feeling?
In certain circumstances, your Why might not be clear straight away. You might have to drill deeper, questioning “why” repeatedly to get to the root of your experience. While you do so, it is important to approach your emotional assessment not with judgment, but with kindness. Your inner world is like a child: scared and craving intention. It requires you to use your natural instinct to elevate your Why into consciousness. And at times, you might have to move through R, A, and I repeatedly to work towards acceptance.
N - Non-identification to depersonalize the experience
Working through the R.A.I of R.A.I.N will help foster clarity, acceptance, and kindness for yourself, which you will ultimately need to finally reach N – or Non-identification. This final stage implies that you’re able to be aware and detached from your emotions. It is the understanding that your experience doesn’t define you or should be limited by certain emotions or beliefs. Non-identification is at its core, awareness. Something that you intentionally work for through R.A.I then simply experience in N. You’re able to settle with yourself undisrupted, and over time, foster a radical acceptance of yourself.
You can initiate a R.A.I.N meditation practice whenever a difficult feeling arises. Find a comfortable space that will give you the room to pause and be undisrupted. Start with a few breaths, and gently dive within. Radical acceptance shouldn’t be defined by time, but rather the conscious effort you dedicate to your own self awareness.