RAIN is a process created by Buddhist teachers to address troublesome and stressful emotions. RAIN is used to release these from the body before they cause chronic physical issues or before they are expressed inappropriately (wrong time, wrong place, or at an innocent person). RAIN is an acronym for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture. The “N” was originally for “Non-identification,” but I prefer the definition “Nurture” as suggested by Josh Korda.
Below is a summary of Josh Korda’s visualization meditation, Processing Emotions Using RAIN, with my adaptations annotated.
Recognize: What am I feeling?
Close your eyes and bring to mind the intense emotion you wish to release. Give it a label: anger, guilt, shame, fear, loss, etc
Allow: I see you
Don’t avoid the emotion, instead acknowledge it. Really allow yourself to feel it, don’t use something else to evade it. Get out of your mind and don’t allow other distractions to replace the emotion.
Investigate: Visualize the situation (**slight adaptation here)
Pick one object in the scene and focus on it to help bring you clearly back to the situation you experienced the emotion. If this is too frightening, imagine an object or scene that will remind you of the feeling without returning to the original scene. How does it feel? Where in the body is it manifesting? Is it causing knots in your stomach, a headache, a tightened jaw, clenched fists, or something else? What does it look like? Is it red, misshapen, ugly, or dark? Stay with the emotion until you can either locate it in your body and/or have an image of it.
Nurture: Place the emotion in a safe place (**here’s where I depart from Korda’s meditation)
Imagine you are inside a round hut where you are safe from the experience, but still can feel the emotion. Inside the hut are two people standing off to one side. They are silent and non-intrusive. An empty container is sitting on the ground in front of you. The lid has been removed. Go to the location of the emotion in your body. If you are at all uncomfortable, place the emotion inside a protective bubble to contain it. If you know what the emotion looks like, use the image to help you clearly visualize this step. Imagine it moving to your left arm, down the arm, and out the fingers. Let the emotion drop into the container.
Once the emotion is in the container, take a step back. The two people move to either side of the container. They place the lid on the container, and take it outside to be buried. The emotion is no longer with you. Feel the release in your body.
Acknowledge the self-care or nurturing you may need once this process is complete. It may be a bath, a cup of tea, reminding yourself you are okay, stepping outside in the sunshine, or remembering to experience your feelings.
When I first did this meditation, I was addressing a situation that had filled me with anger. I was surprised to find I wasn’t sure I wanted to release the emotion. I wasn’t sure I was truly done being mad. But the truth is, releasing it didn’t mean I couldn’t experience the anger again. It just meant the particular situation that invoked my anger was done. I didn’t need to carry it around because it was only harming me.
Basis for my adaptations:
The imagery of putting the emotion in a container is a metaphorical. Burying it is important since the earth has the job of cleaning up harmful stuff.