A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled

“500 years ago no-one died of stress: we invented this concept and now we let it rule us. We might have evolved to be able to miraculously balance on seven-inch heels, but as far as our emotional development is concerned we’re still swimming with the pond scum. If we don’t advance our more human qualities then we’re doomed evolution-wise to become cyborgs, with an imprint of an ‘Apple’ where our hearts used to be.” In her book, Ruby Wax shows us a scientific solution to these modern problems: mindfulness – and yes this is the actress Ruby Wax.

Ruby proclaims to have suffered from depression almost her whole life. At almost any time she can suddenly slump into a phase of depression, getting out of it takes time and energy. After studying at Oxford for a masters in Mindfulness she learnt about the power and ability of being self-aware and self-conscious about our mental health. We take time to build our physical strength, so why do we ignore the mental aspect. She argues that this is one of the biggest mistakes of our species.

What is Mindfulness?

“The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”

When you bring it up, people will instantly think of meditation and the conscious effort to focus on breathing, but that is only one small aspect (that may not even be important to you).

The aim of mindfulness is to be aware of your emotions and surrounding. Why do you feel angry? What’s causing the anger? Can I proceed in a calm way? Ruby believes that we can choose to not feel some emotions and by recognising when they may appear, we can block them out.

What’s the benefit?

Being aware of your emotion allows you to act in the way that you truly want to. You may want to get really angry and yell out loud, but don’t you remember the times that you calmed down, wondering just why you got so heated? If your emotion controls you, then you can be unpredictable.

In the book, Ruby also explains how her awareness can help her understand when she is depressed. She can’t stop it, but she knows what’s wrong and why, meaning her road to recovery is that bit easier.

How can it be implemented?

Well in the book Ruby talks about how she went on a 7 day meditation retreat. Full days spent meditating. Did it help her? She says so! Do you have to do that? Nope!

For full information, give the book a read, but in summary, the best way to incorporate mindfulness is to force yourself to be aware of your surroundings. How does your food taste? Why didn’t you finish your work? How will you react if this or that happens? Making yourself aware and ‘in the moment’ is the best way to take control of your emotions.