February 16, 2017
Written by 7 Cups Therapist: Kelly Lawrence
Made popular by mindfulness teacher and author Tara Brach, RAIN is a meditation technique used to deal with difficult emotions. It stands for the four steps of the practice; Recognise, Allow, Investigate, and Non-identification. To practice RAIN, focus your attention on whatever thoughts or feelings are arising in the moment, and recognise them for what they are, for example, anxiety. Rather than struggling with the feeling, just allow it to be, accepting that it is there. This is a technique used in many mindfulness meditations and encourages acceptance and the ability to be in the present moment. Investigate refers to asking yourself – always with an attitude of kindness and self-compassion – where the feeling or thought comes from. What sensations arise in the body? What images come to mind? What other thoughts or feelings arise as a result? You might learn a lot. It may also tap into underlying negative core beliefs or emotions such as shame and guilt, which is why the self-compassion is crucial. The final step in the process, non-identifying, refers to keeping an attitude of knowing that though these feelings and thoughts exist you are not them, and they do not mean you are inherently 'bad'. We all have these. When we realise we are more than our thoughts and feelings, they stop having such an effect on us.
The STOP technique, based in ancient Buddhist practices was developed by Elisha Goldstein and used as part of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. It is a short practice designed to bring mindfulness into the moment, into daily life. It can be practiced at any time and is a great stress reliever. The letters stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe what is happening, and Proceed. To practice, pause in the moment, take a few deep breaths and 'tune in' to what you are thinking and feeling in the moment. You can then proceed with what you are doing, but feeling more centred and peaceful.
Techniques such as these are useful in CBT'based therapy as they help clients become aware of their thoughts and feelings and detach from them. Meditation in general also lowers stress levels and releases serotonin and endorphins, thereby easing low mood states and promoting happy and calm feelings. And we could all use some more of those!
Kelly Palmer is a CBT and Mindfulness therapist specialising in trauma, confidence, pregnancy and birth, and addictions.