American Ruby Wax is best known as a comedienne, actress and writer, but who knew she had a Masters in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy from Oxford University?
She believes mindfulness is the answer to the modern-day problem of stress and feeling frazzled. She says of mindfulness, “It’s something that can help us all: learning to notice your thoughts and feelings so you can truly experience life”.
In the foreword, she talks about why she’s written the book and touches on her personal experience of depression and being institutionalised.
“My ‘aha’ moment came when I realized I had used my success as armour to cover the chaos inside me. I’d created a fabrication, like those smiling cardboard cut-outs of show-girls in Vegas. I was just a front; and, behind the front, no one was home.”
This Road to Damascus moment led her to study mindfulness-based cognitive therapy at Oxford University.
The book covers everything, from what mindfulness actually is to mindfulness for parents, teenagers, children and even babies.
She provides a handy synopsis of what’s contained in each chapter. For example, “Chapter 3: How our brains work and the science behind mindfulness. In this chapter, I show off how smart I am, giving neurological evidence as to why mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is so effective when dealing with stress. By stress, I don’t mean you had a bad-hair day, I mean the stress that eventually helps to shorten your life.”
The book includes a lot of scientific information and research as well as practical activities and exercises you can incorporate into your daily life to help you feel better. There is also a six-week mindfulness programme in the book that you can try out.
Wax injects her trademark humour into the book, which at times gives it a light, readable feel. However, other times the book is a bit waffly and I wish she’d just get straight to the point. The book definitely could have done with a good edit – more practical information and less of Ruby talking about Ruby would have been better.
If you’re a big Ruby Wax fan and you’re interested in mindfulness, then you’ll love this book. If you’re not interested in either then it will be a tough read.
Reviewed by Maggie McNaughton, writer at Healthy Communications