Mod 4: Exercises

To help you get better at recognizing and processing harsh and negative emotions, here are a couple helpful exercises.


Exercise 1: Emotional body scan

If you feel like you’re drowning in confusion and bad feelings, one of the best things you can do is a body scan. Feel free to again use the ten minute one provided in Mod 1. Or, if you prefer, make it even simpler.

Just lie down in a quiet, private place, close your eyes, and let your awareness travel up from your toes, slowly to the top of your head. Breathe steadily as you go, letting the breath pass into the various areas of your body. Look for sensations that are unpleasant, like tension in the limbs, a fluttering stomach, a tight throat or jaw. Don’t be distracted by whirling thoughts that are trying to dictate to you negative stories about yourself or your situation, just keep your attention on the sensations in your body.

Just bringing focus back to your body in this way can help ground you and quiet down thoughts and emotions. And hopefully the process will also clarify to you the primary emotions you are experiencing so you can accept them and understand them.

A good way to do this follows in our second exercise.

Exercise 2: The “RAIN” technique

This technique has become an essential element of mindfulness training, and is usually credited to the wonderful mindfulness and meditation expert, Tara Brach. Like with the “STOP” technique we discussed in Mod 2, “RAIN” is an acronym for four steps. You can apply these steps whenever you notice you are experiencing an uncomfortable, distressing, or painful emotion.

R Recognize what is happening

You start simply by noticing, “Uh-oh…I feel bad.” Your response to this is “What exactly is it I’m feeling right now?” Pay attention to the sensations of the feeling with lovingkindness and without judgment or fear. Give it a name: determine the emotion(s) you are experiencing and say to yourself what they are.

Example: “So this is why I feel weird right now—I’m worried and anxious.”

A Allow life to be just as it is

While you may want to respond to this revelation by talking yourself out of the emotion, or distracting yourself from it as soon as possible, what you need to do is let it be. Don’t struggle or clench or react, just allow the feeling to be there, and acknowledge its presence.

Example: “Yes, I’m worrying again what’s coming.”

I Investigate inner experience with kindness

When I say “investigation,” think Sherlock Holmes or your other favorite private investigator. Be calm and unemotional as you study what’s happening, as if you were researching a topic or solving a puzzle. Try to be gentle and kind in your investigation, providing a safe and comfortable environment for the truth to reveal itself. Ask yourself questions like these:

“What is happening inside me?”
“What most wants attention?”
“How am I experiencing this in my body?”
“What am I believing?”
“What does this feeling want from me?”

Listen patiently for the answers and reason your way into an understanding of what is prompting your negative feelings.

Example: “I have an expectation that my narcissist is going to punish me. I don’t know for sure, nor can I guess how, but I feel I’ve displeased him so punishment is going to happen. This isn’t based on any facts, only on my past experience. But the emotion is as real as if I were in actual danger. This must be due to my conditioning.”

N Natural Awareness (or Non-identification)

The thing about the N step of RAIN is that it happens naturally in response to the prior three steps. It’s a nice restful place where you arrive at the end of the process. You are more clear-minded on what you are feeling and what the reasons are for it. You accept the emotion but see that it doesn’t need to foist a certain false reality on you, or make you label yourself or your behavior in a particular way. The emotion is, and that’s okay, it makes sense. You are not the emotion. It is not part of your essence, just a sensation you experience and can view calmly and rationally.

The better you get at doing the RAIN process, the less you will be mentally and emotionally at the mercy of your feelings. It’s something you can apply in as little as a minute, or that you can incorporate into a meditation like the one I will share here in Mod 4.

Copyright © Lucy Rising