May 7, 2021

When Holidays Break your Heart: How R.A.I.N. Mindfulness can Help.

Holidays are not always roses and frosting.

For many, they are difficult and triggering reminders of loss, grief, and pain. If this is the case for you, whatever the reason, here are some ways to get through this Mother’s Day—or any other holiday—and fill up your own cup with loving-kindness.

Mindfulness has been around for some time, and so has the four-step technique called R.A.I.N., an acronym to help us remember the steps to help us through challenging and difficult times. This technique was originally created by insight meditation teacher Michelle McDonald more than 20 years ago, and has been used by many meditation teachers and therapists since.

This technique helps with the emotions that pierce our hearts. It has become a part of my own meditation practice and one I teach as a skill to calm the turbulent emotional storms.

Like every skill, it takes practice. The more we use it, the more we will naturally incorporate it into our lives and make it our own.

R stands for Recognize: We become aware.

I like to take it a step further by acknowledging yes, we can recognize what is going on when triggered and acknowledge the pain. Like a greeting, I watch the difficult feelings arrive and wonder, “What can this teach me?”

I acknowledge the pain, which goes beyond awareness. Humans tend to repress difficult emotions; this doesn’t help our situation. We need to sit with the difficult stuff as it rises and say, “Hello painful emotions, I feel and allow you.”

A stands for Allow: We allow these painful feelings, wounds, and reminders to exist.

We let the experience and feelings rise. It is in acceptance that healing is possible.

This step does not offer excuses; it simply allows whatever we are feeling to be, without judgement. Like every skill, it takes practice and the more you use it, the more you’ll make it your own.

I stands for Investigate: We explore why we are feeling the way we do.

It’s important to remember that this should be a gentle inquiry. Explore without judgement—and honestly, this can be a tough one.

N stands for Non-Identify: We understand that we are not our emotions. 

We can feel these difficult emotions and let them pass like waves, without internalizing or beating ourselves up.

Following this practice of non-identifying, we should do some good things to nurture ourselves. Think of this as a double dose of self-love. This, of course, will be different for each individual and as unique as you are. Ask yourself, “What do I need?”

I encourage you to give this a shot if you feel some painful emotions this holiday. It might be the greatest gift you can give yourself. For those with heavy hearts this year, you are not alone. Reach out.

Wishing you peace and much love.


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