Practicing R.A.I.N. With a Partner

Two-plus years ago, I wrote a post entitled Take a Pause and Practice R.A.I.N. to shine a light on a wonderful tool for processing emotions. I learned about it from renowned psychologist, author, and meditation teacher Tara Brach. It goes like this:

  • Recognize: Pay attention to thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they arise.
  • Allow: Let the thoughts, emotions, and sensations just be. Don’t try to control or judge them. Don’t label them right or wrong, good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate. Just say “YES” to them and invite them to sit with you.
  • Investigate: Bring an interested and kind attention to the experience. Notice what bodily sensations, emotions, and narratives arise without analyzing them. Just be curious.
  • Nurture: Call for a response from the wisest and most compassionate part of your being. Allow yourself to feel loved, supported, and worthy.

It’s a simple yet powerful practice that has really helped me work through some intense feelings and get unhooked from them.

In my Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program, the leadership strongly encouraged us to practice R.A.I.N. with a partner. I dismissed the notion at first given the difficulty I perceived in finding a compatible partner and (frankly) because I just didn’t think I’d get that much out of it. Yet members of my peer group had such great success with it that I put out a request for a partner and was blessed with a perfect pairing.

When practiced in partnership, the process goes like this:

  • RAIN partnersBoth partners reflect ahead of time on a matter in which they feel vexed or stuck. It can be something related to work, personal relationships, health, a troublesome behavior, the community, a news article, …
  • When coming together, the session starts with a period of quiet meditation – between 3 and 10 minutes – to bring a sense of calm and centeredness to the space.
  • Each partner takes 3 minutes to described the issue at hand while the other listens attentively.
  • The ensuing 10 minutes of silence provides the opportunity to consider the A, I, and N elements of RAIN.
  • Thereafter, both parties reflect silently on the process for 2 minutes to see how things have shifted for them.
  • Each partner takes 3 minutes to express to the other what was challenging about the practice and what they experienced or learned as a take-away.

Several things happen when I work through an issue with a partner.

  • Giving voice to the issue in front of another person makes it more real. It starts me on the path of really feeling it rather than getting stuck in my head just thinking about it.
  • I slow down and give RAIN the space to do its magic. When practicing RAIN alone, I tend to rush through the steps and give short shrift to the curiosity that comes with investigation and the genuine nurturing that helps me move through it. A slow pace gives me more time for exploration and self-compassion.
  • I feel supported deeply by my partner. I don’t feel alone in my struggles.
  • Quite often, the issues my partner raises resonate with me. It’s like getting a two-for-one RAIN bonus.

I don’t know how long this partnership will last, but I’ll be inclined to work with others going forward. It’s a moving experience that really drives insights home.