Soothe Your Inner Critic- Exploring the R.A.I.N. Method
Have you ever noticed that the voice in your head is so much meaner than the voice you use to speak to your loved ones? When anxiety is high and patience is low, it’s very easy to slip into negative self talk. And in our current global climate, you may be scolding yourself for everything from not getting dressed to yelling at your kids or skipping a workout. It adds up, and definitely takes its toll on the body and mind.
But there is good news! You are the master of your thoughts, and there IS a way to turn yourself around and create space for acceptance and compassion. The R.A.I.N. Method, coined by Vipassana teacher Michele McDonald, can help you find inner peace through a meditative approach.
Recognizing means paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, without judgment. Take a moment to notice what is going on in your body, and then turn your attention to your thoughts and feelings. It can be helpful to simply pause, acknowledge, and name what’s troubling you.
For example, you might say "I am feeling overwhelmed" or "I am feeling anxious." There is power in naming your struggles- it’s a healthy way to own your feelings so they don’t end up consuming you or spilling over into relationships and interactions.
As the famous song lyric reminds us, "Let it be." Allow your thoughts and feelings to simply exist, even if you are uncomfortable with them. You may find that you feel more peaceful, just by accepting your current state instead of fighting against it.
Now that you have made space for both recognizing and allowing, it’s time to investigate your thoughts. This step may help you formulate a conscious response to your problems, or even resolve the issue entirely. Ask yourself, "What happened to make me feel this way?" And listen to your response. Can take action on your own to fix it, and stop the cycle of swirling thoughts?
While the first three steps call for conscious activity, the "N" in R.A.I.N. is a little more existential. The final step is to practice natural awareness, which is the act of simply noticing everything as it comes, and letting it pass by with ease, knowing you are neither your emotions nor your circumstances. It takes practice, but natural awareness can help you feel a deeper sense of peace, love, joy, and connection.
R.A.I.N. is a handy tool for your toolbox because you can use it anywhere and anytime. Next time you are feeling bogged down by your thoughts or emotions, give it a try, and see how it makes you feel!