‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’ is Ruby Wax’s attempt to bring mindfulness to the masses. She explains, in simple terms, how we can make changes to our every day life that give us time to breath, reflect and live in the moment.
Best known as a female stand up comedian and for her appearances in numerous TV shows, Ruby Wax has devoted much of the last 10 years to raising awareness of mental health issues.
She has publically shared her own battle with depression and anxiety. It was her desire to have more control over her mind that led her to study for a Masters in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy at the University of Oxford.
For me, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is a book of three parts.
Part 1: The Science Bit
In the first section, Wax explains the physiology of the brain, how our brains have evolved over time and the scientific evidence that proves that mindfulness can be effective in managing our levels of stress.
Interwoven throughout the scientific explanations are soundbites of her own personal story and experience. These soundbites helped to lighten the scientific explanation.
As a lay person I found her explanations useful but, in all honesty, it took me several attempts to read and re-read them before I fully grasped what she was talking about. This is perhaps more a reflection of my lack of scientific background rather than her explanation.
Once I persevered I did have a good overview of how we are able to change and train our brains with a consistent and disciplined mindfulness practice.
Part 2: The Mindfulness Course
In the middle of the book, Ruby outlines a six week mindfulness course for beginners. Having recently undertaken my own eight week mindfulness course a lot of the content was familiar to me. However there were some ideas that I hadn’t come across before and I still found it a worthwhile read.
This six week course contains very simple exercises that would serve as a great introduction to mindfulness for the uninitiated. Her approach is straight forward, down to earth and very accessible.
I particularly liked how she acknowledged that some people would not like completing all of the exercises and what they could do instead e.g. “Mindful Movement in the Gym (For People That Can’t Stand Mindful Movement)”.
Having particularly disliked the Mindful Movement section of my 8 week mindfulness course I could completely relate and took away some great tips on how to make mindful movement a part of my daily life.
Part 3: Putting Mindfulness into Practice In A Social Context
In my opinion, the final section of the book is the most useful. Ruby covers mindfulness in the context of our social environment and how to practice mindfulness with children, ranging from babies right through to teenagers.
I appreciate for people without children this section will of little value, however, I would suggest it as compulsory reading for modern day parents!
Learning how to cope with and manage stress is a key life skill for current and future generations. Many educational establishments are starting to embrace the power of mindfulness and incorporating it into their curriculum.
Ruby outlines some simple exercises that we can carry out with our children to introduce them to mindfulness and help them to appreciate the benefits of a mindful approach from an early age.
The practical nature of the exercises combined with a down to earth approach
‘Teaching mindfulness to teenagers ain’t going to be a piece of cake, especially if you suggest it; as a parent, at this point you are object of embarrassment; an untouchable’
sums up Ruby’s attitude towards mindfulness.
Embrace the theory and put into practice what you can.
Overall, this an easy, engaging and often entertaining read for beginners who are interested in finding out more about mindfulness.
Click to order A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled.