Feeling overwhelmed? Remember ‘RAIN’

Maybe this post will reach you at the right time – when you are feeling overwhelmed with life, here is a mindful way you can help yourself through it.  This is from Tara Brach (author, teacher and clinical psychologist), whom I thankfully heard about from my good friend, David.


When life just seems just too much to handle, do RAIN.












Being ‘overwhelmed’ can be caused by events that you need to deal with, and for me recently, it has been more about just having too much to ‘do’ in my life, feeling like there was too little space to enjoy the things I wanted to do.

I ran across this RAIN technique by Tara Brach, and it honed by mindfulness practice even more.  By practicing this, it has really helped me self-manage in a much healthier way when I feel overwhelmed.

A quick summary of RAIN:

Recognize what is going on

Recognizing means consciously acknowledging the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are affecting us. This is a self-awareness that simply recognizes when we feel overwhelmed or stuck.

Common signs of being overwhelmed are:  a critical inner voice occupies your thoughts, feelings of shame or fear, or the physiological experience of anxiety or depression.

Allow the experience to be there, just as it is

Allowing is about letting the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations we have recognized simply be there. Instead of judging ourselves, or avoiding the situation, we can simply pause with intention and relax our resistance.  Let the experience be just as it is — I find this especially helpful when the situation is something I cannot do anything about.  When I can’t change the situation, I can still change my reaction to it.

This isn’t easy to do, and needs practice. But when I take on an attitude of ‘allowing’, I do feel a certain ‘ease’ with the issue.

Investigate with kindness

Investigating means being curious to explore what’s going on within us.  Pausing to ask, what is happening inside me?, can initiate recognition, but investigation adds a more active and pointed kind of inquiry.  You might notice hollowness or shakiness, then discover a sense of unworthiness and shame masked by those feelings. Unless you bring them into awareness, your unconscious beliefs and emotions will control your experience and perpetuate your identification with a limited, deficient self.

Natural awareness

Natural awareness is when our sense of who we are is not fused with limiting emotions or stories.

Though the first three steps of RAIN require some intentional activity, the N is the treasure: A liberating homecoming to our true nature. There’s nothing to do for this last part of RAIN; we simply rest in natural awareness.

The RAIN of Self-Compassion is not a one-shot meditation, nor is a practice that is always steady and present.  Rather, as you practice you may experience a sense of warmth and openness, a shift in perspective as you deal with the issues.

To read this article in more detail, please read from Mindful.org here.

I recommend Tara Brach’s book: True Refuge: Finding Peace & Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart.  It’s for people who are truly open to cultivating a better life experience.

Have a wonderful day,



6 thoughts on “Feeling overwhelmed? Remember ‘RAIN’

  1. Hi Wendy,

    What a great article – thank you (and thank Tara) for sharing.

    I agree completely – in this busy and fast paced world we live in, the feelings of stress and overwhelm are easi;y triggered by the conflict we feel with what we feel we HAVE to do versus what we WANT to do….

    Sometimes it is actually better to sit on the couch, even if only for a few minutes, to chill out and relax. Allowing yourself the luxury of stopping to process your thoughts and plan your next move can be a game changer.

    I can certainly see that using yours / Tara’s RAIN concept above could provide a great structure around gathering ones thoughts and working through ones stresses.


    • Hi Matthew, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment 🙂
      It is good to pause and reflect, and I used to think sitting on the couch doing this was being lazy and wasting time. Now that I give myself permission to not be on the ‘go’ all the time, life is so much better. It took awhile to learn this, though!

      Thank you and have a wonderful day, Matthew!

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