Let It Rain . . . So It Doesn’t Pour (Part 3 of 3)
Being held hostage by your feelings and behaviours wreaks havoc with your mental well-being and those you care about
By Quentin Steen, Representative/BC Member Education Coordinator
Last month’s Mental Health Moment introduced us to the RAIN of self-compassion, a mindful practice you can use to navigate your complicated and difficult feelings and emotions.
We explored the R of Recognize and the A of Allow. However, before we move on to the I and N of RAIN, you should revisit last month’s Mental Health Moment to refresh your memory about the R and A of RAIN.
The remainder of this article has been adapted from the work of Tara Brach.
To unfold, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with your own vulnerability. This compassion fully blossoms when you actively offer care to yourself.
Yet when you’ve gotten stuck in the trance of unworthiness, it often feels impossible to arouse self-compassion. To help you address feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, the acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion using the following four steps:
• Recognize what is going on.
• Allow the experience to be there, just as it is.
• Investigate with interest and care.
• Nurture with self-compassion.
I – Investigate with interest and care.
Once you have recognized and allowed what is arising, you can deepen your attention through investigation. To investigate, call on your natural curiosity—the desire to know truth—and direct a more focused attention to your present experience.
You might ask yourself, what most wants attention? How am I experiencing this in my body? What am I believing? What does this vulnerable place want from me? What does it most need?
Whatever the inquiry, your investigation will be most transformational if you step away from conceptualizing and bring your primary attention to the felt sense in your body.
When investigating, it is essential to approach your experience in a nonjudgmental and kind way. This attitude of care helps create a sufficient sense of safety, making it possible to honestly connect with your hurts, fears, and shame.
N – Nurture with self-compassion.
Self-compassion begins to naturally arise in the moments that you recognize you are suffering. It comes into fullness as you intentionally nurture your inner life with self-care.
To do this, try to sense what the wounded, frightened, or hurting place inside you most needs, and then offer some gesture of active care that might address this need. Does it need a message of reassurance? Of forgiveness? Of companionship? Of love?
Experiment and see which intentional gesture of kindness most helps to comfort, soften, or open your heart. It might be the mental whisper, I’m here with you. I’m sorry, and I love you. I love you, and I’m listening. It’s not your fault. Trust in your goodness.
In addition to a whispered message of care, many people find healing by gently placing a hand on the heart or cheek or by envisioning being bathed in or embraced by warm, radiant light. If it feels difficult to offer yourself love, bring to mind a loving being—a spiritual figure, family member, friend, or pet—and imagine that being’s love and wisdom flowing into you.
When the intention to awaken self-compassion is sincere, the smallest gesture of turning toward love, of offering love—even if initially it feels awkward—will nourish your heart.
After the RAIN
When you’ve completed the active steps of RAIN, it’s important to just notice your own presence and rest in that wakeful, tender space of awareness. The fruit of RAIN is realizing that you are no longer imprisoned in the trance of unworthiness or in any limiting sense of self.
In other versions of RAIN, this is the N: not-identified. Give yourself the gift of becoming familiar with the truth and natural freedom of your being; it is mysterious and precious!
This is your invitation to step out and into the RAIN to a healthier version of your authentic self.
Quentin Steen is a certified mental health first aid instructor for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Get your BRAIN right and your MIND will follow!
4 Mental Health Resources to Help You
- If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, CLAC has a number of resources and interactive tools available to help you at My Health and Wellness.
- Stronger Minds features videos and quick reads from mental health experts, activities to help you gain resilience, and ask-an-expert videos in response to questions.
- WellCan offers free well-being resources to help Canadians develop coping strategies and build resilience to help deal with uncertainty, mental health, and substance abuse concerns.
- Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support provides free online resources, tools, apps, and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals.