Practicing mindfulness – meditation with Loretta Cooper
September 20, 2021
[Narrator] A mosaic of pictures representing a variety of people of different races, age, and gender appear on the screen with new portraits being added to the group. A title box appears over this image.
Top 5 Superpowers Every Change Leader Needs. Superpower #3: Be Authentic. Practicing mindfulness – meditation with Loretta Cooper
[Loretta Cooper] The RAIN model for meditation R-A-I-N has been popularized by Tara Brach. She’s a psychologist and meditation teacher in the Metro DC area. When we’re hijacked by our limbic system, when we need to find that self where our authentic leadership comes from, we need a pathway back to our fully integrated brain. And this practice can be our pathway.
So, in this moment, take some time to settle into your body. Perhaps that means closing your eyes or maybe leaving them open but softening your gaze. Allow your attention to settle into the sensations in your body. And see if you can pay attention with curiosity, without an agenda to change or fix anything, just settling in – in whatever way feels comfortable/
Take a few full breaths, inhaling deeply, filling the chest and lungs and then slowly exhaling.
Releasing, relaxing, and letting go.
Try that again. Deep, full inhale and then a slow cleansing exhale.
As you focus on your breath you may notice that your mind begins to generate thoughts and ideas. That’s normal. That happens to all of us. Simply take note that your mind is wandered away and, without judgment, bring your focus back to your breath.
And if you catch your mind in the act of wandering, just gently return your focus. This is the muscle building of mindfulness.
And so, we begin the practice of RAIN.
The R in rain is recognize. Taking note of what is predominant in your thoughts or feelings just now. What is it that you are most aware of? A persistent thought? A distraction, a worry? Just mentally recognize what is loudest at this moment in your field of awareness
Recognizing is the beginning of mindfulness. Being aware of your thoughts. Are you noticing the same sequence over and over again?
You might take a note in a moment just to name it – that’s planning, that’s rehearsing, that’s creating – whatever it is, just take note of it. Give it a little name tag and then let it go.
Maybe you notice in addition to the thoughts that there’s some emotional activity attached to it. You can notice and name your feelings too – anger, fear, joy, contentment – whatever it is, take time to recognize and identify what’s showing up in the moment.
The point here is not to get deeply engaged or involved in any of the storylines. Just recognize that they’re present and let them be there
And that brings us to the A of RAIN: Allow.
Allow it to be just as it is. Give space to what is here, without trying to change it in any way. Experience it with friendliness and curiosity, and then let it go. Allow life and your response to it to be just as it is. As you are actually experiencing it, not as you hoped it would be.
Give yourself the grace of being with whatever shows up. It may be a pleasant feeling, or it may be somewhat uncomfortable; but whatever it is, tell yourself “This too belongs.
The A in RAIN is Allow.
The I in RAIN is Investigate. When I allow myself to have this experience, where does it manifest in my body?
Do you feel that your chest might be a little tighter? Or your jaw is clenching? Are your hands in fists or are they relaxed? What do you notice about your body posture in this moment? Are you closed off and collapsed? Where do you most sense the feeling in your body?
Remember, this is not a cognitive investigation where we get busy with problem solving. This is really about a somatic experience.
Investigate can also mean asking yourself the question “what am I believing about myself in this moment? What am I believing about this thing that has my focus?”
There’s a story attached to it – notice how that’s living in your body. Maybe your breath gets shallower. Maybe your heart beats a little faster. Again, just noticing what is asking for your attention.
The N in RAIN can represent non-attachment.
This is where we begin to recognize that our thoughts and our feelings are not us. They do not own us; they are separate from us. They are like the weather patterns that move through – they may stir things up for a while, they may demand our full attention, but they will change and move on and tomorrow there will be another weather pattern asking for our attention.
The N in RAIN can represent non-attachment. The N in RAIN can also represent nurturing. What can you give to yourself tending to what is most needed? This is rooted in the practice of self-compassion. And sometimes self-compassion can be difficult for us – and if it is for you perhaps imagine a trusted friend – what message would you most like to hear from that trusted friend? What would be most reassuring, healing? Sense what this part of you most needs and how you would respond to another friend with this need… offer that message to yourself.
The N in RAIN is nurturing. Responding to what is needed. Deepening acceptance, bringing kindness and compassion to whatever is showing up.
After the rain, it’s possible to have a sense that something has enlarged. That we have a greater capacity to hold on to difficulty. Maybe a diluting or a diminishing of negative feelings. Sometimes this energy of a negative story that we’re holding can begin to dissipate and we get some distance from the stories that we tell ourselves. Emotions have a life cycle and if we allow them the space that they need, they will cycle through like a rainstorm and eventually dissipate. If we try to ignore or submerge them, they can manifest as depression or rage and sometimes really destructive behaviors.
So, as we bring our meditation to a close, thank yourself for committing to a practice – focus steadiness, and resilience – and notice that you have, as Victor Frankel observed, created a greater space between stimulus and response, and in that space lies all our power and freedom.
Thanks for your time. For The Wheelhouse Group, I’m Loretta Cooper.
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