A Simple Method for Mindfulness When Things Get Tough
I think we can all agree that mindfulness is beneficial. Being mindful helps you listen better, eat less, prevent aches and pains, and numerous other benefits.
Being mindful tends to be easy when you’re feeling good. When you’re productive, crushing it, or relaxed and confident, mindfulness tends to come easy. The challenge is being mindful when you’re uncomfortable, anxious, angry, bored, or any other emotions that we usually perceive as negative.
Not long ago, I stumbled across a very simple and easy to remember method for staying mindful — especially when things take a decidedly negative turn. It’s as simple as R.A.I.N.
You may have heard about it before — it’s been around for a while. But below is my take on it — how I try to apply it. It works for me. My hope is that it works for you as well.
- Recognize what you are feeling or thinking. Is it familiar, or is it new? What is it exactly?
- Give it a name. Naming how you’re feeling has been shown to help in gaining a better understanding of and acceptance of emotions. You can apply this to a mood, an emotion, or a thought. It will act as a shortcut in the future, when the same thing pops up again.
- Accept that you’re having this thought or feeling. It’s there, in your mind, taking up some of your attention.
- Even if you don’t want it there, you at least have to accept that it’s there. If you don’t, you’re just being delusional, which causes a whole other kind of pain and anxiety.
- Ask a few questions of yourself: why do you feel this way or have this thought? Can you trace it back to something you experienced? Has this been lingering?
- Remember to investigate, but don’t judge. State the facts to yourself: you think this way, you feel this way — but that’s okay, you’re just recording for reference.
- This thought, this feeling is not you. You are more than what you think and feel for any span of time. You’re a place where those things congregate.
- As Bhante Henepola Gunaratana put it:
“Somewhere in this process [of mindfulness], you will come to the realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and helpless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way, and you just never noticed. You are also no crazier than everybody else around you. The only real difference is that you have confronted the situation; they have not.”
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