The COVID19 pandemic has transformed the world. It has forced us to stay indoors, cut social interactions and work from home.
Being housebound for more than 18 months, the looming uncertainty has taken a toll on everyone’s mental and psychological health.
With elevated anxiety levels, people are experiencing sadness, depression, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Counsellors share that in these times self-care becomes vital.
Mental health has been severely affected due to lost contacts, connections, restrictions, and lockdown.
Statistics says that due to the pandemic-induced issues like online schools, unemployment, job loss, financial problems and isolation, reports of anxiety and depression were 41.1% in January 2021.
The UN World Happiness Report 2021, ranks India as 139 out of 149. The COVID19 has impacted people in ways unimaginable making them feel scared, anxious and hopeless.
The situation is grim, and coping is not easy. Social distancing and lockdowns are aggravating it.
Visiting a counsellor or psychiatrist is challenging and speaking on the phone eliminates the human touch.
Self-care is not a choice anymore but an essential tool for survival. Exploring certain methods and techniques to alleviate these feelings is required.
Many people found a regular meditation practice helpful during these times. History tells us that meditation has always been an important way to relax the body and mind throughout ages. It helps in decreasing anxiety, overwhelm, anger, sadness, frustration, and helplessness.
Which Meditation to Do?
Meditation is a term for techniques that help you to become mindful and relaxed.
Common meditations include focusing on the breath, chanting a mantra or positive visualizations.
Exploring various types of meditations before beginning a formal practice can give you clarity. Meditation Apps facilitate in finding the right practice.
If you are dealing with overwhelm that feels like a heavy cloud hanging on your head, then RAIN Meditation can be the best option.
What is RAIN Meditation?
Mindfulness teacher Michele McDonald, is credited for creating RAIN Meditation.
RAIN is an acronym that stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Non- Identification. Many psychologists have adapted and expanded on it.
Tara Brach, the world-renowned teacher of mindfulness, meditation and emotional healing in her book, Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN says-
According to her, it is easy to learn this meditation.
"RAIN awakens mindfulness and compassion, applies them to places where we are stuck, and untangles emotional suffering."Tara Brach, mindfulness coach.
In the original version of the RAIN acronym N stands for non-identification, however, in Tara's version N stands for Nurture signifying, self-love and self-compassion.
Tara explains the steps as follows-Recognizing whatever is happening in the present, allowing it to happen without judgement, investigate and explore with kindness and nurture with self-compassion.
Finding a quiet place to meditate will lessen the distractions.
RAIN meditation does not need to be of longer duration. It can be done even for a few minutes. Though, if you are facing a complex issue longer meditation practice may be required.
It is a four-step process where each letter relates to a feeling.
The first step is to Recognize what is going on inside your mind. Is it anger, restlessness, frustration, sadness, or guilt?
This step involves being with any thought and emotion without pushing it away or being judgemental.
Give yourself the freedom to investigate feelings, sensations, listen to inner monologue without attempting to correct or supress it. This may make you uncomfortable but that is fine.
Emotions and feelings require attention. Once you are totally present with the experience they subside. Allow means just letting be. Whatever, it is just give permission for it to happen patiently and with kindness.
The third step is to delve deeper to find something, get a revelation or understand yourself better.
Explore how the emotion feels and what it is trying to convey. Superficially, an emotion may be of irritability, but a deep exploration may reveal that the root cause is some deep-buried anger about some old hurt.
Sometimes anger could be the frustration about certain things that happened during the day. Just look and experience these feelings with compassion.
Non- identification (Nurture in Tara Brach’s version)
Once we are aware of the true nature of our feelings, we need to non-identify by understanding their transitory nature.
This means we stop focusing on whatever we feel like hate, anger, sadness, or frustration. Untangling the feelings and thoughts compassionately from any sense of self-worth or identity is beneficial.
Tara suggests sitting for a while after completing the process. This pause helps in deepening the experience and observing any shifts that might have occurred.
What Does The Research Say?
RAIN, an effective mindfulness technique helps in navigating through difficult emotions.
It assists in altering habitual thinking patterns. Our minds are restless, and our experiences shape them.
Many times, ruminating on a painful experience can create grooves in our brain while entangling us in a vicious circle of thoughts. These negative thoughts affect our mental, emotional, and subsequently physical well-being.
To get rid of these we need to break the pattern. RAIN Meditation teaches us to recognize the problem and break these patterns.
Tips for RAIN Meditation
This helps in confronting a challenging situation.
A regular morning/night practice of RAIN meditation is effective
You can do it anywhere, while waiting at a traffic signal, in a shower, or standing in a queue. Experiment and be creative.
You can integrate it with your morning or evening walk.
Helps to cultivate self-compassion
RAIN is a simple meditation practice that can be easily accommodated in your routine. A few minutes every day can considerably lessen stress. These moments will take care of the emotions and lift you out of the rut of frozen mental feelings.
In the present scenario, with lack of social interactions RAIN meditation can help in dealing with loneliness, unpredictability, and anxiety.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)