After hitting the bestseller lists with her two previous books Sane New World and A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, Ruby Wax has just published another book to help people make better sense of the world we live in. But this time she has brought in two helpers: a neuroscientist, Ashish Ranpura, who is a clinical neurologist in the US and a neuroscience researcher in the UK; and a monk, Gelong Thubten, who has been a Tibetan Buddhist monk for 25 years and intersperses isolated retreats with teaching executives in Google and other businesses how to incorporate mindfulness into their lives.
I was invited to chair the first live event following the book's publication at the beginning of the week, and a sellout crowd gathered in Notting Hill's Tabernacle. But as you can imagine, it barely needed another brain on the podium. Ruby was awarded her Master's degree in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy from Oxford University and has accumulated a great deal of curiosity and knowledge about how our brains, minds, emotions and relationships work. Bringing such thinkers as Ash and Thubten to the issues of the day --- anxiety, over-stimulation, addiction, estrangement -- made for a lively, amusing, hugely informative hour.
Ruby's comic timing means she often highlights the absurdity of the way we humans have evolved - for example, to sniff out less feminine male partners when we are ovulating, in order to maximise what our bodies might see as protection -- but together the three speakers covered much that we all want to understand better. Why do we get stuck thinking everything is terrible, even when it's obvious that it isn't? How can we bring up children who are emotionally mature, but also capable of dealing whatever life throws at them? Are our relationships with our phones and the internet out of kilter with a natural, balanced life?
No-one has all the answers to these questions, but Ruby and co's book is certainly an entertaining, informative way to get you on the way. As mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn testified on the cover "Ruby Wax will make you laugh and show you how to heal and transform your life".