Ruby Wax has spoken and written a lot recently about her experience of mental illness – what she calls “a rollercoaster ride of depression” for most of her adult life. In her new book Ruby describes her quest to understand her depression and what will help her to cope and recover.
For her, the answer is mindfulness. This is the ability to focus and pay attention to the present, on purpose and in a non-judgemental way. It’s about learning to calm your mind and steer it where you want to go.
There are limitless demands on us and our time. Life can be too hard and too fast. Ruby Wax writes that ‘multi-tasking has driven us mad: like leaving too many windows open on your computer, eventually it will crash’.
So instead of thinking about what you need to do at work tomorrow, wondering what to have for dinner tonight, thinking about all that you need to do at the weekend and telling yourself what a failure you are for worrying so much (all whilst reading a text, answering an email and checking 3 apps on your phone) – attend to what is going on now. This gives you a space to enjoy life and appreciate what you already have.
Why not try this easy exercise?
Look around you and write down 3 new things that you notice every day. These could be things that you see, hear or say.
• That plane trail stretches for miles
• I can hear birdsong this morning
• My son has some hazel in his green eyes
• The washing up bubbles make a soft popping sound
• There are so many colours in that autumn leaf
• Stroking the dog feels so warm and soft
This is you being present in the moment, controlling what you attend to and what you think about. It’s mindfulness.