The RAIN Meditation

What is the RAIN meditation?

RAIN is an acronym that represents four sequential steps that guide you on how to pay closer attention to your internal experience in the present moment. Mindfulness teachers and practitioners across the world have adapted the RAIN meditation for use in different situations and there are many variations of what each letter represents.

Through my work supporting other women and in my own personal development I’ve found the following RAIN variations useful:

  • R – RECOGNISE what is happening right now in your body (sensations, emotions, thoughts)
  • A – ALLOW / ACCEPT / ACKNOWLEDGE what is present in this moment without judging it or yourself
  • I – INTEREST / INVESTIGATE your internal experience with an attitude of curiosity, kindness and compassion
  • N – NON-IDENTIFICATION means understanding that your emotions are not ‘you’ and they do not narrowly define who you are. What is it that you NEED at this moment? What needs to be NURTURED right now? What is your NEXT step to nurture yourself?

What is the RAIN meditation used for?

Meditation is not always easy. The wandering mind finds plenty of distractions which means it can be hard to stay present whilst meditating. Paying attention can be challenging at other times too such as when you’re writing a report, in conversation with another person, or during a meeting.

“Paying attention” is a vague concept. This is where RAIN is so useful. RAIN offers specific and concrete steps that guide you in the skill of paying attention to your inner experience during meditation.

In addition to helping you pay attention to the present moment, RAIN can further benefit your insight, clarity, acceptance and compassion towards yourself. RAIN is particularly helpful for developing insight when difficult emotions arise. Tara Brach has written extensively about this and has created many guided meditations that are freely available for you to use.

With practice, you’ll be able to use the RAIN technique in situations outside of formal meditation practice as well.

How do you practise the RAIN meditation?

RAIN is a formal meditation practice but you can use the same technique in a moment of pause at other times to reconnect with yourself. You will become more familiar with the steps when you set aside regular time and space for a formal practice.

My suggestion is to practise RAIN daily for about 10 minutes each time although it can be shorter or longer. With repeated practice you will be able to use the RAIN technique when you briefly pause to observe and regulate your emotional state throughout the day or night as you need to.

  1. Find a space with minimal interruptions where you feel safe to practise meditation either sitting or lying down
  2. Allow yourself to become comfortable and relaxed, yet staying alert
  3. You might find it helpful to close your eyes
  4. Take a few full breaths as you tune into your body
  5. Work your way one by one through the RAIN steps. Use the notes in this article to help you or you can use an audio guided meditation

The RAIN Steps

RAIN meditationR – RECOGNISE what is happening right now in your body (sensations, emotions, thoughts)
A – ALLOW / ACCEPT / ACKNOWLEDGE what is present in this moment without judging it or yourself
I – INTEREST / INVESTIGATE your internal experience with an attitude of curiosity,
kindness and compassion.
N – NON-IDENTIFICATION means understanding that your emotions are not ‘you’ and they do not narrowly define who you are. What is it that you NEED at this moment? What needs to be NURTURED right now? What is your NEXT step to nurture yourself?

Where did the RAIN meditation come from?

Michele McDonald created the RAIN acronym in the early 2000s. Michele has taught Insight meditation, also known as Vipassana meditation, for many years in various locations around the world and developed RAIN to help people with the technique of paying attention during meditation. Many other mindfulness teachers have used and adapted the RAIN framework including Tara Brach.

Where can I find out more about RAIN?

You can find more information about RAIN and other meditation techniques at the following sites:

Michele McDonald
Tara Brach

Connect with me!

I always love to hear from you. Join my Grounded Inspiration newsletter or send me a message.

We’re sharing more ideas over on our private Outdoors is my Therapy Facebook Group so I’d love to connect with you there too!

daisy spokeDiscovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Nature Escape Day

In today’s post I’m sharing a system for creating a Nature Escape Day. It’s something I’ve had in my life for quite some time and it’s become incredibly important to me. Maybe having regular Nature Escape Days will be helpful for you too!

Kathryn looking at camera with wide eyes and smiling in the rainforestHave you ever taken yourself away for the day, all by yourself, for a day of peace and quiet in nature? Maybe to the beach, or rainforest or a National Park or maybe a river or lake?

Most of us have done this with other people like our families or a group of friends or a club outing. But what about doing it by yourself? And with intention ….. FOR yourself?

Solo adventures vs group adventures

I know a lot of people who go off on regular solo adventures – camping, bushwalking, kayaking. But I know even more people who don’t. People tell me they’re too nervous about doing something like that alone because they don’t have the skills, knowledge or confidence, or they haven’t ever thought about going it alone.

I was one of those people. All my life I’ve had company on my outdoor adventures.

Family adventures in nature

As a kid, it was my parents and siblings heading out on occasional bush walks in the rainforest, playing on the beach, even helping to weed the garden, pick strawberries in the backyard and feed the goats were little adventures in themselves.

Adventures with friends in nature

As I grew older my outdoor adventures were with the friends I made in Girl Guides and Rangers. We’d go camping with our leaders and have structured activities. In our Patrols or small groups we’d cook over a campfire, do nature craft, solve problems, create skits to entertain the rest of the crew as we sat about the evening campfire singing camping songs and ditties, keeping warm. We also learnt to find our way around the bush using a map and compass, sometimes it was a hand drawn mud map not a topographical map, and we’d work on earning our badges together.

It was a lot of fun, I learned a lot of practical skills and life skills, developed confidence in my abilities and learned about trust. I also learnt that I slept better when I was away camping or after a day in the outdoors than any other time. And I’m pretty sure my appetite grew too!

The next generation – adventures in nature

As the years went by, my outdoor adventures continued with my husband – camping, bushwalking, paddling on creeks and the bay on surf skis and riding bikes. When our children came along we included them in our outdoor life too although our adventures were modified to accommodate their needs. We still bushwalked, camped and spent lots of time in the garden and exploring the bush paddocks and National Parks where we live.

Family looking over FNQ viewpoint

What about “solo adventures” in nature?

As you can see, I’d always had others with me on my adventuring activities. The idea of solo adventures hadn’t even entered my mind until my children were older. I think there are a lot of people, women in particular, in the same position. I found myself craving for a bushwalk or mountain bike ride during the week, yet it would mean going it alone. I was worried that everyone else would worry about me going off on my own, but when I examined my heart, I felt quite okay about it myself. I was a bit nervous having never gone out alone, but I knew cognitively that I had the skills and knowledge to be safe and have fun.

Obstacles to going it alone

For me, the biggest obstacle was overcoming my worry that other people would worry about me having a day in nature by myself. And the only way to overcome that was to bring it out into the open, and have a conversation with my family and friends about the idea. And of course, my worry was unfounded! They trusted me even more than I trusted myself to go it alone.

And so for years now I’ve been taking myself off on regular escape days into the bush mid week. I’ve created flexibility in my lifestyle by designing my business around what’s most important to me. So this means I can have regular escape days that are planned and built into my life.

Nature Escape Days benefit you personally and professionally

Nature Escape Days really help me not just personally, but in business as well. With each day away, I come home energised and motivated, filled with creative ideas ready to action.

Although some of my escape days are set aside for relaxing and rejuvenating, most times I pack my office into my backpack and take some writing, planning, reading or podcasting to do. I find that when I get into the bush into a peaceful place surrounded by nature, I’m so much more focused. My productivity levels are much higher and it’s well worth the extra effort and time it takes me to get there instead of working from my home based office where the Internet keeps me connected to the world better than to my inner self.

Mt Norman

How to create a Nature Escape Day

1. Schedule it into your diary and stay committed

As with all the best things in life, a bit of preparation is key to success. That means planning ahead and scheduling days into my calendar that are blocked out from other commitments, and sticking to it! It’s so easy to let yourself book other things in and let go of the time you’d scheduled for your date in nature.

This process of staying committed to your day away is a challenge, but it’s also a valuable process! It’s about learning to set boundaries, prioritising yourself and your self-care, trusting that your inner self knows best and that the investment of time and energy you make into your escape day is going to be worth it.

2. Mental preparation – watch out for those inner stories!

Another key to successfully having regular Nature Escape Days is to prepare yourself mentally. Do you need to challenge the ‘shoulds’ you have? These are the stories you tell yourself or that you’ve absorbed from the world around you about what you ‘should’ be doing. Or perhaps you need to challenge your ‘people pleasing’ stories like the one that I had dreamed up in my imagination but wasn’t actually true. Or maybe the ‘I’m selfish’ story needs to be challenged because everyone, even YOU, can benefit from taking a day off. There are so many other stories that can get in the way of your happiness – do you have any stories blocking your way?

3. Physical and logistical preparation

With your mindset on-side, it’s time to think about the physical preparations and the logistical preparations. These are also completely doable.

Where and When?

For your first Nature Escape Day, plan something simple that’s aligned with your abilities and that’s accessible for you. If that means a half day instead of a whole day because you need to take children to school and pick them up afterwards, then go for that option. If it will take you hours to get to your closest National Park or beach, then opt for a park, river or botanical garden closer to you.

It’s vital that your plans are doable and not so complicated that it adds extra layers of unnecessary stress to your life. Your plans need to be in step with where you are in your life journey, so keep it real.


Some other tips for getting your escape day off and running include planning your nutrition for the day. Are you going to pre-nature escape dayprepare and pack your lunch to take with you, buy something en route, or is there food for purchase at the location you’re planning to go to? Ideally take plenty of water with you.

What to do?

Are you planning to go for a walk, meditate, listen to podcasts, read, knit, do some work or simply be?

What to take?

What do you need to take with you? Make a list of gear that you want to have with you for the day. Your list will depend on how you want to spend your day, what you’d like to do, where you’re going and what the weather will be like.

As far as gear goes, it’s always a good idea to include some first aid supplies especially if you’re going solo or somewhere with limited services and not many other people. As a minimum I always have a snake bite bandage with me. Even though you’d be pretty unlucky to get a snake bite, I often encounter them on my outdoor adventures, mostly browns and blacks which are highly venomous. I’d rather have a bandage with me, and know how to use it, then not. If you take regular medications for example for asthma, take it with you. These items should always be on your gear list.

4. Create a checklist so you can repeat often

As you take yourself on more and more escape days, you’ll be able to create your own checklist to streamline your preparations and make them as smooth and stress-free as possible. That way you’ll maximise the benefits of your day whilst minimising the hard work associated with it.

Would you like my free Nature Escape Day checklist?

I’ve created a checklist to help you get started. When you subscribe to my Grounded Inspiration newsletter, you’ll be able to download it for free for a limited time only. You can expect to see my newsletter in your inbox about twice a month when I share a few tips and resources to help you live an inspired, active and health-filled life by connecting with nature.

Already a subscriber? No worries. Contact me to let me know you’d love a copy and I’ll  send it right on over.

Nature Escape Day Guide

Are you more of a ‘podcast person’ than a ‘blog person’? Listen in to the audio version of this blog by clicking the PLAY button below.

My Nature Escape Day with a friend

I recently shared a Nature Escape Day with my friend and fellow business owner Jessica Carey where we went off the beaten track, explored the ‘outer world’ of the land we visited as well as our own ‘inner worlds’, and talked about fear, vulnerability and choosing your own path in life. I’d love you to meet Jessica in my next blog post. You’ll also be able to listen in to our conversation on the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast when it’s released shortly! (Watch out for Episode 30)

Daisy SpokeDiscovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to make time for self-care

In light of my self-professed need for some attention to self-care and my observations that many others around me could benefit from the same, I recently declared July 2020 to be “Self-Care Month”. This blog, in combination with the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast, my Facebook pages and my Facebook Group, have been rolling out some tools to help you create self-care opportunities in your life. As the COVID-19 restrictions eased somewhat in my region over the last month, I was also able to re-instate some bush adventure activities for the community which has been super exciting and nurturing both for myself and the participants.

Throughout July I’ve shared information with you about how you can use nature to manage stress and I’ve given you a guided mindfulness practice in Episode 14 of the podcast. I’ve also posed some questions for you to reflect on to help you identify what self-care looks like for you, what gets in the way, and which aspects of self-care you’d most like to focus your time and energy on. And now in this post we’re going to delve further into one of the most common obstacles that stops women from regular self-care routines – having enough TIME. The challenge is real – trying to do all the things in life including working, parenting, socialising, daily living tasks, responsibilities and looking after others can make it tricky to prioritise time and energy towards self.

self-care time management

Time Management

Here’s something I wrote a little while back in a blog about time management and I think it’s totally relevant now:

“TIME! We never seem to have enough of it, we’re always fighting it, and it’s invisible! It seems to slip through our fingers without care. It’s like an elusive double agent, tempting us with tantalising pleasures, and then it’s gone, leaving us with nothing but a pile of to-do’s and deadlines in its wake. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll always find something to fill in a space that’s left when we are more efficient with our time – there’ll never be enough of it!

Time Management is a real thing!
Managing the time we have available to us is a learned skill and one that we can continually refine as our needs, activities and priorities change. There are a lot of self-help books on this topic, but honestly, who has the time to read them!”

Inner stories about self-care

When you hear or see the word ‘self-care’, what comes to your mind? What stories do you have kicking around your mind about taking time for self-care? Commonly women have told me:

  • The kids have to come first
  • Self-care is selfish
  • I feel so guilty if I do something for myself without the rest of the family
  • I don’t have time for self-care
  • Self-care is a luxury, it’s not for everyday life when you have to work hard to put bread on the table
  • I’m just aiming to survive – don’t give me anything more to deal with

These are all variations of saying “I don’t have enough time to do all the things. ‘Me’ and ‘self-care’ come last.”

But how would it be if you DID have enough time? What would your self-care look like then? Again, many women have told me they’d like to:

  • have quiet time to themselves
  • spend more time with friends laughing and relaxing
  • have more holidays
  • read more books
  • write a book
  • invest time in preparing nutritious food
  • have a regular exercise routine
  • go to yoga classes
  • have a weekend away with their partner or friends or go to a retreat

Self-care doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive – it all depends on how you define self-care. I wrote about What Does Self-Care Look Like? in the last blog post.

How CAN you make time for self-care?

If you’re ready to overcome the hurdle of time and get your self-care routine happening, you might find some of these ideas helpful:

1. Time is a commodity you exchange for something else

Time is a precious commodity that you exchange for something else. It’s like a business transaction between yourself and the universe. If you spend lots of money on luxury items you might not have enough left over for the basic household bills. Do you invest time into the luxury things of life – the things the wellness industry and social media would have us believe are necessary parts of self-care? Or do you invest your time firstly in the foundations of caring for your self like nutritious food, exercise and sleep?

2. You have a choice

You choose how you spend your time, in the same way that you choose how you spend your money. What choices are you making? Are you spending time inside scrolling on your phone mindlessly when you’re tired, or are you getting outside for a walk and fresh air, exercise, and getting a good sleep? Are you choosing takeaway food to have a night off cooking, or are you choosing to stock your fridge with fresh produce so that everyday you fuel your body with easy-to-prepare fresh foods?

The challenge with time management is to manage ourselves

3. Get your priorities straight

There will always be competing priorities and responsibilities in your life. Work out a system for prioritising everything, a bit like having a formula to help you decide what comes first, second and so on. A lot of us find ourselves reacting to crises or urgent problems constantly and that’s exhausting! This is when self-care often gets shoved down to the bottom of the priority list. But when you invest in self-care, you’re also investing in a strong foundation for yourself. You’ll be more productive, efficient and effective. Plan ahead and get organised. You could:

  • do one big grocery shop each week instead of every day
  • pre-prepare meals ahead of time so you don’t resort to convenience foods or take-away
  • batch your cooking and refrigerate or freeze leftovers for another night
  • install a meditation app on your phone and schedule your daily meditation into your day
  • schedule your exercise and time in the outdoors
  • combine time outdoors with either exercise or meditation for extra value-packed self-care
  • create flexible but firm routines to ensure your self-care doesn’t get left out – don’t let your boundaries get squishy and allow other things to take priority

self-care and nutrition

4. Change your mindset about time

Treat time as a precious gift that’s been given to you. Remember, time can never be refunded once it’s spent. Use it wisely.

5. What are your time vampires?

What sucks the time out of your day? Where does your time go? Are you okay about this? What can you realistically do about this? What can you change? If your life was a movie, what would your audience suggest you could do to spend your time more wisely so that your self-care doesn’t get left out, and you feel happier and more fulfilled?

time management clock

6. Record your actions for a day, or longer!

Make a note in your diary or notepad of how you’re spending your day. Note down the time and what task or activity you are working on, and what time you finished. Or break your diary into 10-15 minute time blocks and record what you’re doing at every time interval. It only takes a teeny bit of time to do this, but the investment is well worthwhile! This strategy can highlight where your time goes, and keep you accountable to your goals. For example, if you want to work on a self-care goal like going for a walk or tending a vegetable garden, record the time you spend actually doing it and make a note of the benefits you experience when you make it happen.

7. Become more mindful of what you’re doing as you’re doing it

Pause at regular intervals and ask yourself “What am I doing now?” This precious moment is all you have. How are you spending your energy and time right now, in this precious moment?

8. Don’t make excuses

It’s easy to blame other people and situations for lack of time, for not being able to get outside for a walk or meditate or sit outside to watch the sunrise or sunset. Do a thorough audit and be honest with yourself. What can you take responsibility for? What changes can you make?

9. Avoid distractions

Is distraction an issue for you? Phones are known to be one of the greatest distractions to humankind because they’re so portable. We take them everywhere. Whether it’s a phone or something else consuming your time, how can you best manage your distractions so you have enough time for your priorities? Here are a few ideas to make it as easy as possible to keep your attention laser-focused and make best use of your time:

  • set a timer to go off at regular intervals to remind yourself to refocus your attention, go for a walk, or simply to stop and take a few deep breaths
  • switch off your wi-fi and use your phone as … well, a phone! Or mute it or switch it off when you want to focus on a task or have a break.
  • turn off notifications on your phone
  • close the door to your room if you want to concentrate and get a task done
    put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office
  • reward yourself when you’ve completed tasks within a set time frame

Let's sum up!

You CAN make time for self-care

It’s vital that we all make self-care a priority and not use lack of time as an excuse. Basic self-care doesn’t need to take a lot of time, but if time is a real issue for you, try following the strategies we’ve discussed in this article – your mind and body will thank you for it.

Here’s a reminder!

  • Time is a commodity – spend it wisely!
  • YOU choose moment to moment how you spend your time
  • Get your priorities sorted
  • Change your mindset about time – it’s a precious gift
  • Be aware of your time vampires
  • Record how you spend your time
  • Be mindful of how you’re spending your time
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Avoid distractions

I’d love to hear any other time management strategies you use to keep your self-care in action. Send me a message, and head on over to the Outdoors is my Therapy Facebook Group where we’re sharing ideas and inspiration about self-care in nature!

Listen to the audio version of “How to Make Time for Self-Care” here!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups, workplaces and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

5 ways to maximise your financial confidence

Daisy Spoke Banner

Maximising financial confidence is not something many of us think about, yet it’s such an important topic. Financial confidence impacts the choices you make every day. Your core beliefs about money, spending, finances, savings and debt are all tied up in your financial confidence. The most recent Women Empowered retreat “Framing My Future” reflected on financial confidence and resulted in some amazing insights, affirmations and commitments by the women who gathered together.

Financial confidence and stress is often a silent and limiting roadblock that many women experience, and what’s more, many women are not even aware of its presence or its power. By digging down a bit and shining a spotlight on it, you can identify if financial confidence is a roadblock for you too. Then, you can choose what you’d like to do about it. You have the power within you to create a powerful mindset that will guide you past all sorts of roadblocks and light up the pathway to your future.

Here are five key ways to maximise your financial confidence!

1. Identify a financial goal

best things in life start with a dreamDo you have financial goals (or other goals), perhaps some goals for yourself, and others you share with another person?

How do you actively contribute to your goals?

What actions do you take or habits do you have that move you closer to your goals?

What actions do you take or habits do you have that keep you distanced from your goals?

2. Use your voice to communicate about finances

Do you use your voice in relation to money?

What words or phrases do you use in relation to money?

Where do you use these words and phrases? With whom?

Where or how did you learn these words and phrases?

How do these words and phrases contribute to your confidence (or lack of it) with money?

How do you value your own worth and how do you communicate this?

3. Identify your family financial patterns

Is this something I have control over?How did your family of origin handle money issues?

Were financial issues spoken about openly?

What roles did your parents and others have in relation to money when you were growing up?

What feelings come up for you when you think about money and spending?

What skills, attitudes and patterns did you learn from your family?

Are there any patterns you would like to break free from?

4. Understand how your brain and budgeting work together

Do you budget? Do you know how to budget? Do you want to know how to budget?

Do you know where your money goes? Where are the leaks in your budget?

Do you check statements for fraud or unexplained expenses?

Is there a pattern to your spending, eg pre-menstrual or other patterns? And how do you feel when you are in the process of spending?

Spending money can stimulate dopamine, a bioi-chemical produced in our brains that make us feel good. It can keep us spending even if we haven’t budgeted for it.

What other activities give you a hit of dopamine while you stay in control and without sabotaging your budget or goals? Eg crossing tasks off a to-do list, doing something that gives you a sense of achievement, trying something new.

5. What is your earning potential?

How do you feel about your job or role?What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?

How do you feel about how much you are earning?

How much would you like to be earning?

What limits your earnings?

Which of your inner beliefs limits what you think you are capable of, or capable of earning?

Can you identify a new goal for yourself that challenges these limits?

Let's sum up!

Financial confidence is not set in stone. It’s something we can work on in the same way we can extend our knowledge and the other skills we have. Financial confidence is just one of the many contributors to our overall confidence that is shaped by our inner beliefs and perpetuated by our habits and actions. Do your mental health and sense of wellness a favour by gently challenging your financial confidence – let me know how you go!

DNA Insight LogoDonna Neale-Arnold was my co-facilitator and special advisor at our recent retreat. She shared her warm, caring and holistic approach to financial management through a series of reflections interwoven with journalling and creative activities. Donna’s rich experience has developed through working in the banking sector as well as in community services as a financial counsellor and in the health sector with her homeopathy and holistic counselling practice DNA Insight at Red Rose Healing Centre in Warwick QLD.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.