the “R” of “RAIN” – Recognize

Curiously for me, my practice has been returning to the basic question, “What’s happening right now?” I am using this question as my basis for my mindfulness investigation.  I am on sabbatical from Clouds in Water.  I have dropped the form and the structure of a Zen Community for the time being, and I am back to the simple question of how do I practice today without the pomp and circumstance of Zen form.  Although I appreciate that “zazen is a ceremony” which Reb Anderson often says, right now, I am looking for a simpler way, “not a ceremony”, to be fully in the present.

I am playing around with the acronym RAIN which I’m learning from the Vipassana community.

Recognize, accept or allow, investigate or be curious, and N.  N has a few interpretations.  Originally it stood for non-identification.  Two other interpretation I have heard is simply the practice of noting or the practice of nurturing through loving-kindness.  There is a place in my practice for all three interpretations.

Just starting by looking at the “R” of recognize.  It is the wake-up call to get out of our automatic pilot and return to Now.  What is happening right now?  In my body sensations, in my emotions, in my thoughts?  This “recognize” works best for me if I don’t add my evaluation or judgment to what’s happening.  The adding of “I like it, or I don’t like it, or attachment or aversion,” distances me from really experiencing the moment.  That non-judgment is an extremely difficult and subtle practice.  In Non-violent Communication practice that I’m also studying, the first step is called “Neutral observation.”  When I first started doing meditation, my first realization was “wow, my mind is crazy- active all the time and swirling around in circles.”  When I first started studying “neutral observation” I was shocked at what a thick layer of judgements all my observations had.

What I notice is that if I can figure out a neutral statement,  I get a small release almost immediately without effort.  Oh, this is all that is happening!  For example, a couple days ago I said, trying to just tell someone what happened, “he hid in the basement”.  Then I realized that “hid” had an evaluation to it.  In neutrality, I could say, “I observed he was in the basement a lot.” I really didn’t know if he was hiding or not.  And just that small adjustment, I felt less reactive.  My practice for now is to continue to explore what is happening to me, inside and outside, without my evaluation.  It just is.

I laughed when I started noting without evaluation. It was so simple and my “I” was left out of it.  This observing felt very similar to a mindfulness practice I had tried to do years ago.    That practice was to simply note whether I was sitting, standing, walking or lying down.  Years ago, I couldn’t do It.  It was just too simple.  This is “doing nothing” I would say.  “It doesn’t help.” But oddly, now, it seems perfect.  So simple.  Do nothing.  Not any pomp and circumstance.  Just notice.  This is my life in the moment, “I’m typing,”


I can receive my life, my karma, exactly the way it is without trying to fix or change it.

I can relax into the moment and experience life fully.  One moment after the next.