An Avenue to Self-Empathy

A Mindfulness Examination: In the uncertain times of our new world, a little RAIN could bring peace and perspective

Column by Kelli Anders, MS, C-IAYT, RYT 500

I found myself, as I often do, reflecting on a recent epiphany, dissecting it compassionately with the intention of finding its meaning. As I was journaling about it, the puzzle pieces began to fit into place, and I realized that what I had done was use a practice I learned in graduate school. It’s a practice of radical compassion, known as RAIN.

RAIN is an acronym for:
Recognize what is happening;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Nurture with self-compassion

RAIN is a resource useful in determining if we are within our “window of tolerance.” Not only does this practice provide a framework for what we are experiencing, it is an avenue for self-empathy to arise organically.

The following is an example of what I’d experienced in the early days of quarantine and how I processed it using the RAIN technique.

Early one Saturday morning, I received a worrisome text about the impending possibility of a lockdown. My very first thought was: I. Need. Produce! I went to OC Organics, then Walmart,
when the epiphany happened.

I was in the frozen-vegetable aisle, staring in confusion at the empty freezers:

Recognize: I became aware of a sense of unease, a sense of inner agitation, and I became conscious that something wasn’t right. This was a nervous system activation, and it was communicating to me through my entire body.

Allow: I stopped, oriented to my environment and established a sense of safety and ease. I was holding space for whatever needed to be felt, acknowledged, seen and heard. I realized the feelings I was having were not compatible with who I am traditionally.

Investigate: Then, I used my feet and legs to ground me (bottom-up regulation); I took a few purposeful breaths with extended exhalation (meaning, I let the out breath be longer than the in breath) to proactively tip the scale from sympathetic (fight-flight) to parasympathetic (rest/digest) nervous system activation. I then asked myself: “What’s this about, really?” And said: “Whatever it is, I’m ready to face it.”

Nurture: I was able to soothe myself with thoughts of ease, shifting back to my true essence of abundance (internal resourcing). I was able to access my deep faith and recall the countless times that when I needed support, it was always there, and what I needed to survive had always been provided (external resourcing).

I thanked the universe for helping me recognize that not only was I experiencing this fear but that we are all connected energetically, and I was picking up on the palpable sense of those affected around me.

As we begin to entertain and experience our reentry into the now-changed world, experiment using the RAIN technique whenever the need arises to support a sense of ease and notice the effects to your body and mind.

Editor’s note: Instructor Kelli Anders holds a Master of Science in Yoga Therapy. With over 1,000 hours of training, she is certified with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT), a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance, and a certified Standup Paddleboard (SUP) fitness and yoga instructor. Learn more about Kelli’s Yoga Therapy practice, series, workshops and group classes at facebook.com/balancedyogaandwellness or email her at kelli@balancedyogawellness.com.

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