RAIN: A four step Mindfulness tool
Welcome back and Happy New Year everyone!
Today we are discussing a very valuable mindfulness tool called RAIN. It can be a super helpful way to manage strong emotions and sensations. RAIN can help manage anger, shame, guilt, sadness, depression and pain. I have found this tool to be a particularly helpful tool for those experiencing anxiety or panic, but is also a very helpful tool for strong hair pulling or skin picking urges.
RAIN is an acronym. Each letter represents one step and is a part of a 4-step mindfulness tool.
R is for RECOGNIZE:
- The first step is to recognize what is going on in this present moment.
- Recognizing gets us to slow down, or stop.
- Often, we are so reactive that we don’t stop to notice if there might be another solution or another was to respond.
- An example of this might be “Oh, I am feeling hurt right now” or “Oh, I am having a thought about the possibility of me panicking very soon”
- We stop to recognize things for how they really are.
A is for ALLOW or ACCEPT:
- First, start by saying “YES”
- Do not fight that this is what is happening.
- By allowing, you are not denying it. You are making room for it in your day
- By allowing, you are also not invested in its removal or exit. You are staying present.
- An example of allowing and accepting is, “I am going to allow the sensations of anxiety in my body right now. They will not hurt me” or, “This urge to pull my hair is very strong, but I am going to just allow it to come and go. I wont last forever”
I is for Investigate:
- When we investigate, we take note of what is going on
- We become aware of the real details.
- It is IMPORTANT to know that this does NOT mean that you should be thinking about the perceived problem. This does not mean that you should be trying to figure out the perceived problem.
- Let me explain using a few examples
E.g. #1. Lets say you have OCD and you have had the thought “What if I go crazy and go on a shooting rampage” (a typical harm OCD thought). Before using this tool, you might immediately feel anxious, and then go into a long process of trying to get rid of that thought and find proof that you would NEVER EVER, EVER do such a thing. You might spend hours going over and over in your head if that would appeal to you or if others would think you are capable of such an act.
Using the I of RAIN, which is investigate, you would investigate what it feels like to have that thought. You would NOT investigate the validity of that thought. The goal is to investigate by saying something like, “Oh, I notice that thought makes my anxiety increase. Isn’t it interesting that my brain and body is responding to this thought this way?”
Example #2: Lets say you have an Eating Disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge-Eating. It is common for someone with an eating disorder to “feel fat”. When someone “feels fat”, they immediately feel fear, guilt and shame about this experience. Using RAIN, the goal would be to Recognize, “Oh, this experience is here again”. Then, one would work on allowing that experience to be present. Using I for investigate, one who experiences the feeling of “being fat” would then investigate what sensations come along with this experience? Do I feel a sense of my body that is different to normal?” or “Do I notice that this feeling immediately makes my heart begin to race?” The goal of investigate is NOT to investigate if that feeling has any validity by checking in the mirror or body fat checking. Investigate is about asking yourself, “what’s going on for me right now? “How does this feel in my body in this moment?”
- Non-identify is the act of not taking the experience personally.
- When we are uncomfortable, we often identify with the emotion
- If you felt anxiety, you might say, “I am an anxious person”
- Instead, say, “I am anxious in this moment” or even better is. “There is a lot of anxiety here”
- If you feel sad and depressed, you might non-identify by stating, “I notice sensations of sadness” instead of, “I am depressed”
- A trick here is to notice if you ever label yourself as one thing. We are never one emotion or one identity. Our work is to not put ourselves in an identity
One last time, RAIN is a super helpful mindfulness tool.
R is for recognize
A is for Allow or accept
I is for investigate
N is for Non-identify