Breaking Rumination: Tara Brach’s RAIN meditation

Do you ever find yourself in a negative cycle of rumination? Have you ever repetitively experienced the reliving in your mind of a negative conversation with a loved one or co-worker? You may even layer the memory with thoughts of self-judgement? Perhaps saying to yourself, “I shouldn’t have said that,” or “I shouldn’t have done that” or perhaps saying something even nastier to yourself. Rumination can steal away hours of sleep, productivity, and joy.

Often what lies underneath negative rumination about exchanges and behaviors is a harsh self-assessment. When we review an interaction with our internalized damaging message, we can get stuck in a trance of self-loathing. Some examples of these messages are, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m too much,” and/or “I’m not worthy of (fill in the blank).” Again, the intense danger of these messages is the trance like state created by lack of self compassion. Self-loathing feeds upon itself like a cancer, spreading and growing the unworthiness and lack of self-love. 

Tara Brach, a psychologist, author and meditation teacher, focuses much of her teaching on fostering self-compassion. She utilizes the acronym RAIN to help teach a method of breaking the self-loathing trance in the midst of rumination. Attached is one of her meditations dedicated to the RAIN process and her website offers many more examples of meditations, books, and teachings. (

What does RAIN stand for? 

R – Recognize

The first step of breaking rumination and heading toward self-compassion is recognizing the patterns. During this step you are recognizing the thoughts and emotions you may be having when you are reviewing an interaction. Become the observer, watching these thoughts and emotions, similar to sitting on a train watching the scenery pass by outside.  

A – Allow

A, the second step, is for allowing the thoughts and feelings to be present. Sometimes we want to fix, judge, or justify the thoughts and feelings we may be having, but with this step the goal is to just sit in the presence of these ideas. Allowing deepens the attention to and knowing of self. 

I – Investigate

Investigating with curiosity, the third step, is the paramount part of the process. During this step you will discover your core beliefs and needs. When investigating with a gentle nature the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing, it is helpful to ask two questions. The first question is, “What are you believing about yourself?” The answer to this will give you an understanding of the core belief that has created the negative self talk. The second question is, “What do you need right now?” With this question you are moving toward the last step of nurturance which may look like a kind word or a gentle touch to your heart or an inward smile.

N – Nurture

Once you have discovered what you need, you give it to yourself. Learning to nurture your needs is the last step in RAIN. You bask in a moment of self-love, kindness, and warmth toward your inner being. You take a moment to be gentle with yourself. Breathe and relax into the sweetness of self-compassion.

One of the beautiful pieces of the RAIN process is it can be practiced anywhere and can be done in a short amount of time. Similar to the visual of rain washing away dirt on a car, RAIN is a wonderful practice washing away negatively held beliefs and fostering self-love.