Have you ever sat inside quietly enjoying a rainy day? What made it enjoyable? Did you feel relaxed by the tapping drops on the roof? Were you drinking something warm? Were you wrapped in a blanket? Did family surround you as you listened to thunder and watched lightning? Was the rain much needed? Did you visualize the water providing nutrients to plants and wildlife? Were you in and out of sleep?
It seems that it is easier to embrace the rain when we are protected from its impact. We can slow our thoughts down, whether they are about the rain or not. We can even suspend the impulse to engage with our mind and ponder these thoughts, focusing our energy on the sounds and smells of rain. We can even view those sensations as beautiful and necessary.
Sometimes our minds make us feel like we are stuck in a cold, torrential downpour without an umbrella. Our thoughts can be unpleasant. Our emotions can make us want to be anywhere but here. Urges to fall back on old habits can make you feel trapped as though you lost the keys to your car and you stand in a parking lot flooding with rainwater. Memories of past traumas can overwhelm the senses.
We become entangled and saturated with the experiences we wish to eliminate; it always comes back to that one memory, a negative perspective, or an emotional trap you can never seem to escape. Imagine viewing that entanglement as an unpleasant rain experience. These thoughts and feelings seem to pound on your defenseless body. All you want is to be away from them.
People benefit tremendously from learning to separate themselves from their thoughts just enough so that they can develop a shift in perspective. We can metaphorically step away from the crushing showers of an oppressive monsoon and see more than just the misery of the rain.
Take a few moments to close your eyes and simple be. Imagine in full detail the scenario you considered when asked whether you have ever sat inside quietly enjoying a rainy day. While focusing on your breath, notice if your mind wanders. No need to engage in passing thoughts. When you notice that a thought or emotion arises, view the experience as raindrops falling from the sky that you watch from a safe, dry place.
Much like the way it is easier to maintain a positive view of a storm when protected from the rain, it is easier to practice this type of disentanglement from your thoughts when calm and uninterrupted. Furthermore, we treat all thoughts and feelings the same in this practice: unpleasant (“I hate myself”), pleasant (“I’m awesome”), and neutral (“I smell pancakes”). In fact, it is usually easier to practice such meditation when in a good or neutral mood. Acknowledge the experience and work to allow the thought to pass through your mind; watch the storm without stepping out into the rain. The more you practice, the more likely you can do it when you find yourself in an unforeseen downpour, without an umbrella, wearing flip flops on a cold winter day.