RAIN is a 4-step mindfulness exercise that gives ‘on-the-spot’ aid for working with intense emotions. With RAIN we learn to notice our emotions with kindness and accept them as what they are.
When we understand how emotions work, and that we are in fact experiencing emotions we can learn to calm down and reflect before we take action.
Mindfulness helps us create space between a strong emotion and our actions. We learn to deal with positive and negative experiences more calmly.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
– Victor Frankl
Teaching our children, and ourselves, the RAIN technique can be a wonderful way to deal with emotions when they get to be too much to handle. The simplicity of the word “rain” can also make the technique easy to remember and use when we need it most. The acronym RAIN was coined by mindfulness teacher Michele McDonald. Here’s a longer description of RAIN by clinical psychologist Tara Brach.
Mindfulness for children – RAIN
Purpose: Emotional regulation
Best For: Ages 10+
What you need: Nothing
The process is simple, as it follows the letters in the word “rain.”.
R: Recognize the feeling that you are experiencing. Give the feeling a name if you can. Identifying the feeling can take its power away.
A: Allow the experience to be there, just as it is. It is most likely unpleasant, but it’s just an emotion that will pass. It’s here right now, so don’t fight it.
I: Investigate the feeling with kindness. How does it feel in your body? Where are you feeling it most strongly? What types of thoughts does this emotion cause you to think about? Is it making you tense up or feel badly at all?
N: Non-identification. This emotion is not who you are, it’s just a feeling that will go away with time. You may be feeling badly, but you are not bad. Sadness may be washing over you, but it will go away and you don’t have to hang on to it. It will pass.
When difficult feelings and emotions arise in us, we may need to go through the whole RAIN process to work through the feelings, or we might just need to do one or two steps. The more experience you have working through each step, the more skilled you will be at understanding what you need to do to work through the difficulty.
If you are new to mindfulness with children we recommend that you read our guide: How To Practice Mindfulness With Children – The Essential Guide
May you be happy and healthy!
Chris Bergstrom is a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is trained by Mindful Schools to teach mindfulness to students in K-12 (but not associated with MS) and a member of the American Mindfulness Research Association. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.