Psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach, created an acronym that she calls RAIN to help us live our day-to-day lives in a calm, centered way. It’s a resilience tool that concretizes what happens inside us. You can put it in your hip pocket and use it when you’re frazzled, scared or upset. I sat down with the psychologist and author of Trusting the Gold to learn more about this tool that all of us can bring to any challenging situation, especially work stress.
Bryan Robinson: Tara, please explain what RAIN is and what it stands for.
Dr. Tara Brach: The times we most need to be mindful, centered and have access to our resources are when we have no idea what to do. We become frozen, and RAIN gives us a way back home. The acronym RAIN is R for recognize; A for allow; I for investigate; and N is for nurture. It’s a weave of mindfulness and self-compassion that unhooks us and frees us.
Robinson: Could you give and example?
Brach: By way of example, I remember when my mother moved here. I was really squeezed busy with deadlines, and she needed my company to help her settle. I got caught in anxiety and also feeling guilty, so I brought RAIN to it. The R was to Recognize that “okay, I’m feeling anxious right now.” The A was to Allow, which means let it be here. Don’t blame myself for having the feelings nor try to get rid of them. Just let be for these moments. The I is to Investigate, not in a cognitive way, but in a somatic way which means I noticed that I could feel the squeezing, pressure and tightness in my chest. Investigate teaches us to breathe with it and feel the feelings. And then I asked myself, and this is part of investigating, “What do I need right now?”And that part of me that was anxious needed to trust that I love my mom, and I would come through this as best I could. I put my hand on my heart as I Nurtured—that’s the N of RAIN—and said, “You’re doing the best you can. You love her, and it’ll be okay.”And it unhooked me. I was no longer caught in the anxiety or guilt. I was resting in something larger. We call that After the RAIN. We don’t rush through After the RAIN because in that space of compassion, tenderness and presence is where we actually transform—where we sense the difference between the guilty and anxious self. You can take the four letters of RAIN and bring it to anything—depression, shame, fear or anger. And it helps you come home to yourself.
Robinson: It might be hard to practice RAIN in the heat of the moment. Would you say that it helps to practice in small ways before we get thrown off center so when the big kahuna happens we already have it in our hip pocket?
Brach: That’s a great question because when we’re in the thick of the moment, it’s hard to do it. But if we practice in advance of a situation where we know we’re going to get triggered, we have much more access to sanity, humor, perspective and all of that.
Robinson: It sounds like After the Rain is a time to really soak in that shift from anxiety and guilt to self-compassion and notice the difference between what you were feeling before and after the RAIN.
Brach: During After the Rain, the way neuroscience explains it, the more you become familiar with a state, the more it turns into a trait. So if After the Rain, you ask yourself, “So what is the presence like right here?” or “What’s the quality of my being?” Then you start to get familiar with a much more spacious sense of who you are and realize that’s more the truth of who you are than any story you’ve been telling yourself.
Dr. Tara Brach will appear at Resiliency 2023 on September 8, 2023.