I've been listening to lots of meditations and talks with Tara Brach recently (you can find loads of really wonderful resources on her website, and probably on YouTube too). She has this gorgeous gentle voice and weaves stories into her talks in such a natural and illuminating way. It brings me back to sitting in Thailand many years ago listening to my Canadian monk teacher telling these stories of the Buddha to illustrate a point. I guess teaching through stories is an essential part of most spiritual paths.. thinking now of the parables from the bible I was taught as a child in the west of Ireland (a million miles away from the humid hills of northern Thailand).
One resource that I happened across among her teachings is the acronym RAIN. What this is a four step process around challenging feelings. You can also use this as a stand -alone meditation
R-Recognise what's happening. This is essentially noticing what's going on. What thought, emotion or behaviour is here right now? You might say to yourself , "Ah, anger is here" or worry or whatever it is. Nothing more to do in this step than noticing what's happening with you in the moment.
A- Allow the experience to be there, without trying to run from it, suppress it, fix or avoid. Can you just be with it for a moment, a couple of breaths. Tara Brach suggests saying "this belongs" or " it's ok". She also reminds us that this is not about acceptance, per se, but rather pausing and deepening attention.
I- Investigate the experience. Become curious about how it appears in the body - "Where or how do I feel this in my body?". No need to change anything, just notice how it is experienced in the body.
N- Nurture with compassion ( I love this one!). Ask yourself "What does this part of me, this hurt place, need from me in this moment?". You can then offer a gesture or action of nurturing. You might like to place a hand on your heart (this often helps to imagine the heart softening or opening), or wrap your arms around yourself in a hug. Maybe a whisper to yourself arises "I'm sorry, I love you.. some expression of compassion directed towards yourself (as you would offer compassion to a good friend who is hurting)
After the rain
After doing these steps, you can notice afterwards how it feels to bring awareness to the situation, and your self. You might realise you don't have to be trapped in habitual reactions, you might feel a little lighter. This practice, including the pause and attention to the body can also help something to shift in the body and the brain that regulates the nervous system, brining you out of a fear or stress state to a calmer state in which you can be more responsive and less reactive.
Let me know if you try it. I realise I've been teaching aspects of this in my Calm in the Chaos course, but I think I'm going to try to bring this acronym into the course next time round (early bird registration is open now for the course beginning October 9th)