R.A.I.N. Meditation for Grief & Loss

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Posted: July 9, 2023

Ignoring your feelings may work temporarily, but is not a sustainable strategy. It is by acknowledging and truly feeling your emotions that you can navigate through the tempest. The journey of grief is not about avoiding the storm, but learning how to walk in the rain, honoring your love, loss, and truth in each droplet.

Grief can be an overwhelming journey, one that often floods us with powerful emotions, from profound sadness to disorienting confusion. It's during these trying times that we need an anchor, something to guide us through the storm. That's where RAIN, a mindfulness practice focused on exploring our emotions, can provide a lifeline.

RAIN—an acronym standing for Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture —guides us towards better understanding and managing our emotions, especially during trying periods such as grieving. This simple, yet profound mindfulness practice can be a tool for self-compassion, and a means to better understanding ourselves. It can be used anytime an emotion feels too strong or overwhelming, or during a set meditation practice. This practice was originally created by Michele McDonald and refined by Tara Brach, who dives deep into it in her book Radical Compassion.

Here's how it works:

1. Recognize: The first step towards dealing with an emotion is to acknowledge it. Too often we get carried away by our thoughts about a situation, neglecting what our bodies are trying to communicate. Ask yourself, "What am I feeling right now?" Try to name the emotion you're experiencing—be it sadness, anger, guilt, or confusion. This conscious recognition serves as the first step towards understanding and dealing with the emotion.

2. Allow: Once you've identified your emotion, allow it to be present. Embrace it with a sense of calm understanding. It can be all too easy to deny or repress our feelings, but in doing so, we lose the opportunity for growth and understanding. Letting the emotion play out can be difficult, but having the courage to face it can be truly transformative.

3. Investigate: Take the time to connect with your feelings on a deeper level. Ask yourself, "Where is this emotion in my body?" It might be a heaviness in your chest or a knot in your stomach. Does it have a color? A temperature? Is it pulsing or still? Exploring these physical sensations helps to distance us from the narrative of the emotion and instead focus on the raw, felt experience. This dual awareness creates a more comprehensive understanding of your feelings.

4. Nurture: The final step in the RAIN practice involves nurturing ourselves with kindness and compassion. After exploring the sensation and nature of your emotion, ask yourself, "What do I need right now?" Offer yourself words of comfort and care. Remember, it's okay to tell yourself, "I care about this pain," or "May I find relief from this suffering."

R.A.I.N. Meditation Recorded by Heather Stang

RAIN isn't about denying or changing our emotions, but rather a radical act of self-compassion. It's about caring for our feelings as they are, allowing us to respond mindfully to our emotional experiences rather than reacting in a knee-jerk, mindless manner. It's about understanding that while our emotions may be a part of us, they do not define us. It's about granting ourselves the grace to be human, to feel, and to heal.

In the face of grief, RAIN provides a pathway to navigate through our emotions, reminding us that it's okay to feel, and it's okay to care for ourselves. Grief is a journey, and with RAIN, we can weather the storm, one drop at a time.

Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

About the author

Heather Stang, M.A. is the author of Living with Grief and the guided journal, From Grief To Peace. She is the creator of the Mindfulness & Grief System that is featured in the Handbook of Grief Therapies (2023) and is the founder of Awaken, a mindfulness-based online grief support group. Heather also hosts the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, and offers mindfulness-based grief support online through her organization, the Mindfulness & Grief Institute. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Yoga Therapist. She currently lives in Falling Waters, WV.

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