What are you unwilling to feel?
A gentle inquiry into what we are unwilling to feel may be very useful. You have probably heard the phrase that ‘what you resist persists’. Carl Gustav Jung added: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”
What we pull away from sticks. Maybe it is a sense of loneliness, or a sense of failure, or shame, or fear. For as long as these feelings are unwanted, denied and avoided they will shape who we are.
When we start paying attention to what is unseen and unloved a shift can happen.
Tara Brach, a psychologist and meditation teacher explains how to use RAIN meditation to make that shift happen:
- R Recognize what is happening
- A Allow life to be just as it is
- I Investigate inner experience with kindness
- N Non-Identification.
Recognize what is happening.
Recognition is seeing what is true in your inner life: “What is happening inside me right now?”
Allow life to be just as it is.
Allowing means “letting be” the thoughts, emotions, feelings or sensations you discover. You may feel a natural sense of aversion, of wishing that unpleasant feelings would go away, but as you become more willing to be present with “what is,” a different quality of attention will emerge. Allowing is intrinsic to healing, and realizing this can give rise to a conscious intention to “let be.”
Investigate with Kindness.
At times, simply working through the first two steps of RAIN is enough to provide relief and reconnect you with presence. In other cases, however, the simple intention to recognize and allow is not enough.
Investigation means —the desire to know truth—and directing a more focused attention to your present experience. Simply pausing to ask, “What is happening inside me?” might initiate recognition, but with investigation you engage in a more active and pointed kind of inquiry. You might ask yourself: “What most wants attention?” “How am I experiencing this in my body?” or “What am I believing?” or “What does this feeling want from me?” You might contact sensations of hollowness or shakiness, and then find a sense of unworthiness and shame buried in these feelings. Unless they are brought into consciousness, these beliefs and emotions will control your experience and perpetuate your identification with a limited, deficient self.
In order for investigation to be healing and freeing, we need to approach our experience with an intimate quality of attention.
Realize Non-identification; Rest in Natural Awareness.
Non-identification means that your sense of who you are is not defined by any limited set of emotions, sensations or stories. There’s nothing to do for this last part of RAIN—realization arises spontaneously, on its own. We simply rest in natural awareness.