A Practice for Working with Strong Emotions

Lodro Rinzler
5 min readOct 13, 2021

“From moment to moment, we can choose how we relate to our emotions. This power of choice gives us freedom, and it would be crazy not to take advantage of it.” — Pema Chödrön

When it comes to working with anxiety, we need as many tools on our proverbial tool belt as possible. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to the practice of RAIN. RAIN is a technique that was developed by Buddhist teacher Michele McDonald which I have found to be instrumental in tackling strong forms of emotions that have come up for me over the years. While different words are sometimes applied to the acronym, commonly RAIN stands for Recognize, Accept, Investigate, and Non-Identification. Let’s do it together.

Begin by sitting in shamatha. Now bring your attention to a strong emotion, something already present or bubbling right beneath the surface.

Recognize it: you can place a name on the emotion if you would like such as “frustration,” “sadness,” “joy,” or “excitement.” If you sense a momentary reprieve from strong emotions, you can even ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?” and notice what comes up. Here, we are not judging these emotions as good or bad. We are simply recognizing the emotional landscape that is present today. After a few minutes of familiarizing yourself with these emotions . . .

Accept them: simply allow yourself space to feel what you feel. Tendencies to distract yourself, tamp the emotions down, or act out on them may arise. Here, however, we are being rigorously noncorrective. Hold your seat and give yourself some room for the emotions to exist without having to do anything about them. This is not a deeply intellectual attitude; it’s more an intuitive awareness, trusting yourself to the extent you can be with your emotions. There may even be a moment where notice you are waking up to who you are and are no longer trying to escape from yourself, so more relaxation may arise.

Investigate: sometimes considered “Interest,” the “I” in RAIN invites us to take an interest in and get curious about our emotional state. There are numerous ways to do this, but one simple method is to ask yourself, “What is this emotion trying to show me” or “Is there some valid communication arising out of this emotion?” The tricky aspect here is that you may be…

Lodro Rinzler

Lodro Rinzler is author of “The Buddha Walks into a Bar,” “Love Hurts” and a handful of other fun books on meditation | Co-Founder of MNDFL. lodrorinzler.com