I had the wonderful opportunity of being able to see Ruby Wax (thank you Phil) at her best on Tuesday night, and it was incredibly interesting to hear her take on being Frazzled and Mindfulness.
I love her ability to take what often is seen as a verious serious subject and throw some much needed humour at it.
Frazzled is such a wonderfully insightful term to describe our ability to get so stressed about stress or get so anxious about anxious it gets us to a point of exhaustion.
I read her first book and had such an affiliation with what she goes through when your day goes to shit due to your current mental health. It was wonderful to hear that this depression spurred her on to understand the way it operates and really go against the odds to study mindfulness and psychology at Oxford.
For those that were their and having their first taste of mindfulness, I think Ruby did a solid job. The show was an hour and a half , and trying to emulate what Jon Kabat Zinns book does over 7 hours would have been a stretch… I think what she did with her time, putting aside the fact the show was to support her new book, and support it she did, she gave people a wonderful taste of what the practise is. I also loved her little question and answer bit at the end.
What did she use as a guidance tool? She used meditation, a wonderful passive meditation, which cultivates mindfulness, clarity and space for our thoughts.
Over the past 7+ years, I have heard and learnt from many different teachers, from many different backgrounds. From Guru’s to Professors and all in between, even more recently for a filmed piece on Mindfulness I spent some time researching teachers and what they thought mindfulness is. . .
The one thing that I found…
All of them seemed to have a varying definition of Mindfulness (even within the non-secular piece). Contemplating on this during a meditation I came to realise, the key reason behind these many differing definitions was that Mindfulness is not something that can be described, it is something that can only be experienced. We are all wonderfully different human beings, so it is no wonder that they all have such varying descriptions of the practise.
Yes it’s present moment awareness, yes it teaches you acceptance, and non-judgement, compassion as well as having some incredible scientifically backed benefits, although these are just words and research without some real effort into develpoing at least a semi-regular practise.
I am always interested in hearing from people that try and differentiate meditation from mindfulness and mindfulness from meditation, and then hear them get asked, well why do we meditate then if they are different…?
The very simple answer why this confusion seems to arise, meditation and mindfulness is the practise. They are woven together. They are not seperate from each other. Both are practised together to cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness is absolutely like Ruby Wax had said on the night, its shifting your crazy judgemental amygdala to the more calming insula. The practise is as simple as she described, just feel your feet, feel your breath, hear the sounds. . . shift your thoughts back to your feet, to your breath, to sound… we practise both during the more formal meditation, and the informal mindfulness.
We, for whatever reason, have this tendency to look for something that is not there. We think that it must be something more difficult than what Ruby explained, when really, taking away the complication of the neuroscience, we practised on the night exactly what mindfulness is, shifting our mind from fight to equanimity.
Can people practise it on their own, absolutley. Are there many wonderful videos from incredible teachers, apps, downloads etc etc online, absolutely. Will you truly undertand why you are practising, the dedication you need, the depth to it all, hurdles, what to do when the practise doesn’t seem to work… No. There is nothing I have found online or in book form that does this and I can promise you, I spent 2 years+ trying to find it, as I was being too tight to pay for a course with a teacher myself. The online material was incredible… to an extent, what I have found since sitting and learning from teachers who are beacons of mindfulness, incredibly experienced in being through the wonderful and shitty periods, the darker periods of life; that they love what I love, being able to find calmness in this crazy world, and best of all they are real and tangible. I personally found it very difficult to ask questions to an e-book, app or an article, it can become quite frustrating second guessing : )
You will know mindfulness, the science is incredibly interesting, I love reading the regular, almost daily research, but when you have experienced mindfulness, truly experienced it, the science means squat. The science is there to get you interested, beyond that, the practise can become truly real to you.
If you ever want to find out more about the practise, I am always available for a chat, coffee, contact of any sort. I absolutely love the practise, I genuinely believe it will be and have seen first hand how it is revolutionising the way we look at our mind and how we associate our mind with the world that is not just around us, but within us as well.