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A meditation in meeting our most difficult emotions — like anger, disappointment, or fear — with mindfulness and gentle care.
How to Do This Practice:
When you come up against something challenging – you’re angry or frustrated or feeling any way about yourself, another person, or a situation, move through these steps. It might be helpful to sit somewhere you feel comfortable closing your eyes for a few moments, and begin by taking a few deep, intentional breaths, to help settle the mind.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
- Recognize what’s happening. For example, “I am getting caught up in anger right now.”
- Allow the emotion you recognize to be there: Accept that you are feeling the way you’re feeling. You may go a step further and forgive yourself for it, for example by saying to yourself, “Anger forgiven.”
- Investigate what’s underneath whatever you’re feeling by directing a gentle curiosity towards it. For example, where there is anger, there is something we care deeply about.
- Nurture: Send yourself a message of kindness. You might put your hand on your heart, for example, and remind yourself that everyone experiences reactivity, and send yourself a message of kindness and understanding.
Tara Brach is a psychologist and leading voice in contemporary meditative practices and the author of numerous popular books on contemplative practice.
Read Tara’s seminal book, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of the Buddha: http://tinyurl.com/4csarvmf
Learn more about Tara’s work: https://www.tarabrach.com/
Find classes taught by Dr. Neff: https://www.tarabrach.com/online-courses/
Follow Tara on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarabrach/
Follow Tara on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tarabrach
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
How to Go Through Life with Love in Your Heart, A Q&A with Tara Brach: http://tinyurl.com/2ne65wed
The Mindfulness Skill That Is Crucial for Stress: http://tinyurl.com/3xmnekw2
How Self-Compassion Beats Rumination: http://tinyurl.com/yc7phxsc
Want to Change Your Life? Try Self-Compassion: http://tinyurl.com/2y2ryc6m
Overcoming Objections to Self-Compassion: http://tinyurl.com/yc2wvusr
Self-Compassion Could Help You Be More Tolerant of Others: http://tinyurl.com/3kwrm88h
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We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner: Welcome to Happiness Break, where we try short, science-backed practices to benefit our health and well-being. I’m Dacher Keltner.
When we face difficult emotions like anger, rage or shame, studies show that mindfulness helps — just being aware of our innermost thoughts and sensations, moment to moment, in a nonjudgmental fashion.
But it’s important to recognize that mindfulness doesn’t have to stop at awareness. Once we’re aware of our thoughts and emotions, the next stage is to accept them.
Today’s practice is an excellent resource for guiding us through difficult emotions mindfully with self-acceptance, and care.
Studies show that actively practicing acceptance can help us better manage our emotions and strengthen our relationships. It can also help reduce anxiety, guilt and shame.
Guiding us is meditation teacher Tara Brach. She’s a leading voice in contemporary meditative practices and the author of numerous books, including Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of the Buddha.
Tara Brach: Greetings, friends. Today we’re going to be practicing what I call a light rain. And rain is a meditation that helps us bring mindfulness and compassion to difficult emotions, and it’s based on the acronym. Recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture.
As a way of beginning you might bring to mind something in your life that sets off difficult emotions where you might get stuck in feelings of hurt or anger, anxiety, fear, not something traumatizing, just a stuck place.
It might be in a relationship. Our situation at work.
As you bring the situation to mind, zoom in and remind yourself of what happens when you feel triggered. What’s the worst part of the situation? What’s most disturbing about it?
As you get in touch with your experience, you begin the RAIN practice with “recognize,” and that means simply noting and you might mentally whisper the name of whatever is most predominant, whatever emotion you feel most strongly. After you’ve recognized You allow.
Allow means that you’re letting it be there, that just like a wave in the ocean, it belongs. And you might even say, this belongs, allowing your feelings to be just as they are.
And that makes it possible to begin to deepen attention with “investigate.” And you might ask yourself, when this is happening, what am I believing? What am I believing about myself or another person? Is it that something bad’s going to happen, that you are failing in some way or that someone else doesn’t respect you, doesn’t care about you?
Sense what you might be believing.
And with that, and this is the key part, how does it make you feel? Coming into the body, feeling the throat, the chest, the belly, and sensing where sensation is the strongest.
You might even feel it in your face, what it’s like when you’re feeling triggered and reactive.
And as you feel that vulnerability, feeling it in your body directly, you might even put your hand on your heart to keep company with what’s here.
Just ask yourself, what does this place most need right now? How does it want me to be with it?
The last step of RAIN is to nurture, to respond with compassion, to respond to the needs of this part. And you might, again, feeling that hand on the heart.
Offering care to your own vulnerable being, and you might offer words with that, that are healing. It might be, I’m not leaving. I’m here with you, or I care, or You’re held in love or trust your goodness, or simply it’s okay.
And if it’s easier to imagine and sense those words coming from a trusted other, then just to imagine that and take some moments to let the warmth and the light of that compassionate message bathe you, fill you, comfort you.
The last part of this practice we call After the RAIN, which is simply noticing the quality of presence that’s here. Notice what shifted.
Is there more spaciousness, more tenderness, more freedom?
Rest in the presence that’s here, loving awareness.
That’s your true home.