Ruby Wax, comedienne and depressive (!!!), has written a manual for mindful living. Here are some excerpts from an article on her thinking and experience which appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Times, 1 July 2013.
Ruby says: “Human beings are not equipped to deal with the crushing demands of 21st century living, with its deluded update on Descartes: ‘I’m busy, therefore I am.”
Brain research shows that the much-heralded multitasking actually inhibits the laying down of memory, rather than making us more productive. The hippocampus, which is needed for learning and memory, is only active during uninterrupted focus. (see Living in the Now Chapt 2: Focusing the Attention).
Ruby Wax suggests that “We whip ourselves to keep moving as we would an old horse, until it falls over exhausted, the hooves made into glue.”
However, Ruby states that there is a remedy and that is mindfulness, otherwise known as present moment awareness, or living in the now.
She scorns books that give 200 pages of advice (rather than practical exercises) “that boil down to – ‘think happy thoughts and your dreams will come true, just like Tinkerbell promised’.” Instead, seeking a solution for her own painful depression, Ruby immersed herself in the hard science of the brain, taking a masters in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy at Oxford University.
Jon Kabat-Zinn uses mindfulness as a solution to depression (and for dealing with chronic pain and concommitent stress) in his clinics in the USA. He stresses that his approach is scientifically sound and effective.