Many people know Ruby Wax from her comedy, but only recently have come to learn about how depression has been a constant present across her life through Frazzled. Her interest in the power of mindfulness on mental health goes beyond her personal experience, she understands WHY mindfulness works. In 2013, she gained her Masters in Cognitive Mindfulness, from Oxford University, and this, combined with her lived experience of mental health and wellness, is what makes this book stand out in a sea of mindfulness books.
My introduction to mindfulness started about five years ago through some hypnobirthing, to manage the emotional rollercoaster of a pregnancy after two earlier losses. Previous to this, it had entered the periphery through the meditation and hypnotherapy topics during my Psychology studies.
Frazzled is an approachable read; it balances the “how to” of mindfulness with the “why it works”. Ruby’s writing style is intelligent, you don’t need to have a scientific background to understand it – but it you do, you will wish that THIS was the cognitive Psychology textbook you had as a student! Autobiographic pieces break up the facts, which are presented with Ruby’s expected satire and laugh out loud humour; this is not a dry read!
This is not just a book, it is a handbook; the middle contains a six-week mindfulness course, with the latter part of the book containing how it can be applied in real life. From a stressful work situation to managing a teen transition. It covers it all and will be worth hanging on to for several years, and especially as your children grow.
Now, over to “Clara Cliff Notes”: whilst I highly recommend you grab this book and keep it somewhere safe, these are the key things you should know:
We are evolving
Although we would like to think we are ALWAYS in control of our emotions, sometimes, in the heat of the moment, our “animal brain” takes over. We have an instinctive fight or flight reaction, which in a modern age, leads to stress and overwhelm. Whilst we are no longer under physical threat, as we were in a more primal state, the body and brain doesn’t know the difference.However, this is temporary, and being more aware of our emotions and WHY we are reacting in that way, can help in the immediate (to manage that reflex) and in the longer term (to manage the emotions as they occur)
We can change
Over time, and practise, we can control these instincts; however, as a society, we expect instant results. Whilst we seem to understand that most things take practise and time, learning a new language or a dance routine, there seems to be an expectation that thoughts or behaviours are ingrained. This book shows how to learn how to manage these impulses (it’s called “Mindfulness Practice” for a reason”) and also demonstrates how MRIs and other scans have clearly shown how the structure and reactions of the brain can change (and “calm down”) by applying the techniques.
We can simplify
Mindfulness is not just about “fixing things” or stopping the “Frazzle” but to simply be present and be aware at all times of our lives. How to pay attention to what is happening, and how it makes us feel; for negative emotions it helps you be in control, to acknowledge what the emotions are, what they mean to you and what you can learn from them, before you let them pass.
For positive situations, it helps you appreciate the here and now; to stay in flow and to not let life pass you by.
Knowing that there are certain things you can control, and others you can’t, can lead you generally feeling like you’ve “got this”.
If you want a way to appreciate what you have and to manage those bit of life you don’t like, then definitely grab yourself Ruby’s book! Let me know how ” Frazzled” has helped you!
The next book club is discussing “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. If you would like to join in with the live stream discussing the book and its key points, join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox and be there at 8 pm (UK time) on Monday 22nd May.