Left turn lane was so congested that the no-turn lane I was in was completely non-moving. I was not in a rush or anything but in order to keep the traffic moving, it would be wiser for me to change to the right lane which was freely available. After those two cars I could see in the side view mirror pass me, that is. Once those two cars were quickly out of the way, the right lane was completely open. I started to hit gas and turned my wheel to change to the right lane only to hit the break with a startled heart. The driver two cars behind me obviously has had the same idea as mine and decided to fly over to the next lane in a snap. His move was so quick and swift, I knew he had no intention of letting me move with the flow. His flow belonged to the racing world. I was no match. Too passive, to defensive, and too slow, perhaps.
After he passed, I was free to get into the right lane at the speed I was comfortable with. As I followed that unpredictable, speedy Lexus who didn’t give me a leeway, I could feel my anger brooding, making me into that cynical person I could be. ‘Doesn’t he know that I was a lady? With a baby in the backseat?’, ‘No wonder he drives a Lexus with that inconsiderate, knock’em out of the way kind of attitude!’
My chain of destructive and negative thought pattern was interrupted just as suddenly and swiftly as the Lexus driver stopped me from changing the lane. I was reminded of a quote I read from a book. It was a plainly simple yet profound truth and I had to write it down so that I could remember in a distant future. I had no idea that the quote would save me the very next day from my usual blaming, judgmental ways.
Peace is this moment without judgement. That is all.
This moment in the Heart-space
Where everything that is is welcome.
– Dorothy Hunt
This was the very quote that popped into my unforgiving mind on the road. Once this passage opened the pathway to the truth, I was able to see the Lexus car as a car that was simply placed in front of mine. No more or no less. I was nonjudgmental and peaceful. Once I recognized the pattern, the shift happened in the blink of an eye. I literally shifted from the state of anger to the state of peace instantly.
RAIN (an acronym for the four steps of the process) is a mindfulness tool that is offered by Buddhist teachers.
R Recognize what is happening
A Allow life to be just as it is
I Investigate inner experience with kindness
I first recognized that I was having a strong reaction to the driver’s behavior. I then allowed and acknowledged that I was upset and angry about the driver and sat with these unpleasant emotions. Next comes the investigating. Beyond the anger, I sensed fear. Out of my natural resistance to feeling fearful and unsafe, I made a choice of defending myself by blaming and judging the driver. The final step, Non-identification means resting in natural awareness. This is the step where we realize that our identity is not defined by the personal narratives we tell ourselves. These narratives are often clouded by our limited emotions and sensations. It is at this point that I am able to let go of my previous judgmental-self and regain my equilibrium.
RAIN is a great tool to stop oneself from reacting in unhealthy manners to life’s events. It can be practiced anytime and anywhere and you don’t even need to follow the specific order of R-A-I-N. Whatever arises first is a great place to start. RAIN can be utilized to achieve forgiveness, to deepen compassion, or to clear the heart-space. Just making an effort to remember these conscious steps can create a necessary pause to save you from making rash choices or uttering any statements that are driven by strong emotions. A lot of our sufferings come from situations that we created out of loss of control. Mentally carrying the four steps of RAIN can restore some of your lost control back into your life. It will take years of practice to achieve certain level of freedom from the inner world of emotions but it is worth a try for people who find it hard to control emotions.
Between the stimulus and the response there is a space and in that space lies our power and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frankl