The brain loves to chunk information in order to remember things and there are so many great acronyms that help us remember to bring mindfulness into our lives. I’m going to list a few key ones and then link you to respective guided practices or posts as a reference to play with them and bring them into your life. Finally, I’m going to introduce you to a new powerful acronym that gets to the point of mindfulness.
STOP (Stop, Take a breath, Observe your experience and Proceed)
Click here to enlarge the chart.
RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Inquire, Non-identify/Natural Awareness)
This acronym created by Michelle McDonald and popularized and adapted by Tara Brach, is incredible for helping us gain perspective, self-compassion and confidence with our difficult feelings. We also experience stepping into our natural awareness.
POINT (Pause, Open, Inquire, Non-identify, Truth)
Here is the latest acronym that I think gets to the essence of mindfulness and because there is no prior reference to this, I’ll spell it out here. There is certainly overlap with this and other practices (RAIN in particular), but I think this acronym is really fitting.
Pause: This is what we first are doing in a mindfulness practice, we’re simply pausing to step into that space between stimulus and response. This doesn’t mean we need to stop moving (although that can be helpful at times), but we’re pausing the auto-pilot.
Open: After pausing, we’re opening to what’s here in the moment. Maybe it’s a person in front of us that we’ve been neglecting to listen to, or maybe we’ve been on a hike busy in thought and we’re opening to the nature around us, or maybe we’re feeling stress, anxiety, sadness, or some other uncomfortable feeling. We’re opening to the reality that, that is what’s there.
Inquire/Investigate: Here is where we go beyond just opening to what’s here, but now begin getting curious about it. We put on our beginner’s mind cap and inquire into the experience. We can get curious about the emotion and the physical expression of it. How big is it? What is the shape? Does it have a color? As we do this and just allow it to be, we might also notice if it stays the same or shifts around. We can investigate deeper by asking it what it’s believing. If it’s a negative emotion, does it believe that “I’m not good enough,” or “Something is fundamentally wrong with me,” or maybe “I’ll never be able to get better at XYZ.” This could be any number of negative beliefs. We can even inquire into the thoughts themselves now with these four questions in Uncovering Happiness that I adapted from Byron Katie’s four questions.
Non-identify/Natural Awareness: As we begin to Pause, Open, and Investigate we get space from the experience itself. We’re practicing settling deeper into a sense of awareness viewing the experience. The awareness is not wrapped up in the experience—the sensations, emotions, and thoughts are arising within a wider awareness. There’s a sense of freedom in this: we’re not so identified with it anymore, it’s our natural awareness.
Truth: As we settle into this natural awareness we come to recognize the truth that fundamentally this is our refuge and is who we are beneath the ever-changing flux of daily experiences. We start to see that everyone has this same natural awareness beneath the masks they wear. Most importantly, we start to sense to truth that we are all connected in this way. Or as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “we inter-are.” This is a truth of humanity.
Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy