Right Now It's Like This

I first came across this phrase a couple of years ago via the Against the Stream Meditation Society: "Right now it's like this", often abbreviated to RNILT. The phrase was originally coined by Ajahn Sumedo, former abbot of Amaravati  monastery in Hertfordshire. Since then, I've noticed it cropping up more and more, and it's clearly a phrase that resonates strongly with a lot of people. I've started using it myself, not only in my teaching, but also in my day to day practice. I can safely say that I have rarely found anything as simple and powerful as this little phrase. Let me explain.

When we teach our 8-week mindfulness courses, we introduce a very simple, short practice to people which is usually referred to as the "three step breathing space". It's a kind of mini meditation, highly portable and adaptable, that can be practiced whenever the waves of stress start to lap against your feet. With a bit of practice you can use the breathing space to create a bit of space, a gap in which you can find a way to prevent the waves carrying you off. It's what we might call a technique of "positive interruption"; we notice the rising sense of emotional unease, whether it's anxiety, anger, sadness or whatever, and we deliberately pause, investigate what is going on, settle our racing minds by bring a close attention to the breath and then, when the time is right, we let awareness expand outwards again. At this point we may well have found a different, more creative and compassionate way of dealing with the situation. Without the pause we could easily find ourselves lashing out, saying something cruel, or just avoiding the situation altogether, none of which would do any good at all. It occurs to me that this little phrase "right now it's like this" is central to creating the pause. The present moment might not be a great place to be but "right now it's like this" and you owe it to yourself to pay attention to it. Notice that it's not "right now I'm like this"; rather it's an invitation to explore your experience in a dispassionate, interested way. That's the magic of the phrase, it means that you don't have to take any of it personally any more. "Right now it's like this" that's all. Just this. This tightness in the chest, this throbbing in the temple, this self critical thought, this impulse to retaliate. OK, it's there, I notice it. Right now it's like this. Now bring your attention to the breath, allow the mind's chatter to settle for a moment or two... and now allow your good heart and natural wisdom to guide you to the next moments of your life. There. It's simple. And it could save your life. 

You'll find guidance on the breathing space here and a podcast from the Against the Stream people all about RNILT is here. As always, let us know what you think of this post and send us some comments especially if you try some of these things out for yourself.

Donald Murray1 Comment