Popular meditation apps Calm and Headspace have both released free digital offerings to help the public cope with anxiety and panic. Calm has created an online hub with content including sleep stories, meditations, music and mindful movement. They also plan to livestream anxiety-reducing meditations.
Yes, I use the acronym because It’s an easy-to-remember handle if you’re getting caught in fear. It stands for recognize, allow, investigate, nurture. [SS: You can listen to a guided RAIN meditation here.]
First, just recognize, “Okay, I’m feeling fear.” Mentally whisper it, and that helps right away.
Then allow it. Just let it be there, don’t try to run away or fix it or control it or judge it.
Then investigate it. Begin to come into the body and just feel where the fear is in the body. Find out how it feels and breathe with it, with a gentle quality of attention.
And then nurture. You might just put your hand on your heart and offer a kind or soothing message to yourself. You can say to the fear, “Thank you for trying to protect me; it’s okay.” I sometimes will say to myself, “It’s okay, sweetheart.”
Sigal Samuel: I’m curious about the “recognize” part, this idea that when you can name a fear, it loses some of its power over you. What is it about that mental notation that changes the activity in the brain?
Tara Brach: When we’re in fight-flight-freeze mode, our limbic system has basically hijacked us, and we lose contact with our prefrontal cortex, the most recently evolved part of our brain, which has to do with executive functioning and making good decisions. When we name what’s going on, we start to activate the prefrontal cortex. Mindfulness reconnects us with that.
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