COMPASSIONATE ~ embracing emotional difficulty with loving awareness
Day 18 of 30 Days of Adventure
Today, let's shine the light of awareness on emotional distress with an awakened heart.
Compassion is the medicine we most need as individuals and as a species to heal suffering and free our spirits.
The fruit of bringing compassion to our uncomfortable emotions is realizing that we are no longer imprisoned in or identified with any limiting sense of self. And while we each have the capacity for love and compassion, it is by intentional practice that we develop a truly wise and caring heart that frees us to safely explore our wildest dreams!
The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for bringing mindfulness and compassion to emotional difficulty.
Take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps below whenever challenging feelings arise.
R – Recognize what is going on.
Recognizing means consciously acknowledging, in any given moment, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are affecting you. This can be done with a simple mental whisper, noting what you are most aware of.
A – Allow the experience to be there, just as it is.
Allowing means letting the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you have recognized to simply be there, without trying to fix or avoid anything. You might recognize fear, and allow it by mentally whispering “it’s ok” or “this belongs” or “yes.” Allowing creates a pause that makes it possible to deepen attention.
I – Investigate with interest and care.
To investigate, call on your natural curiosity—the desire to know truth—and direct a more focused attention to your present experience.
You might ask yourself:
- What part of me most wants attention?
- How am I experiencing this in my body?
- What am I believing?
- What does this vulnerable place want from me?
- What does it most need?
Whatever the inquiry, your investigation will be most transformational if you step away from conceptualizing and bring your primary attention to the felt sense in the body.
N – Nurture with self-compassion.
Self-compassion begins to naturally arise in the moments that we recognize we are suffering. It comes into fullness as we intentionally nurture our inner life with self-care.
To do this, try to sense what the wounded, frightened, or hurting place inside you most needs, and then offer some gesture of active care that might address this need. Does it need a message of reassurance? Of forgiveness? Of companionship? Of love?
Trust in your goodness. Experiment and see which intentional gesture of kindness most helps to comfort, soften, or open your heart. It might be the mental whisper, I’m here with you. I’m sorry, I love you, and I’m listening. It’s not your fault.
Let's practice soothing difficult emotions with an awakening heart.
The RAIN meditation we unpacked above is a powerful spiritual technology for cultivating compassion in the face of difficult emotions, limiting beliefs, and conflicts with others. Below is a guided RAIN meditation inspired by Tara Brach and first coined by Michele McDonald.
Over to you!
How are you inspired to show yourself more compassion as you venture towards the creation of living your best life?
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