Ruby Wax's Sane New World
"All the cells in your body are programmed for your survival...they don't give a damn about your happiness". This is the conclusion Ruby Wax has come to, and indeed she is right. Backed up by her Masters' in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Ruby Wax's Sane New World tour is a comprehensive and fascinating tour of our brains.
In an accessible, typically humourous manner, Ruby Wax answers such commonly asked questions as ' Why are we so busy?' and the (maybe) less common 'Why are we screwed?' She explains the role our amygdala plays in stress response, and why high levels of cortisol can, quite literally, kill us; they have been linked to cancer, diabetes, obesity and more.
Thankfully, there seems to be a solution. Wax has been practising mindfulness meditation for seven years now, and while she maintains that it isn't a cure for mental ill-health, it can help us be better prepared for when dark clouds loom. In this intimate talk, she recounts how mindfulness helped her cope with her last bout of depression, allowing her to observe her thoughts rather than succumbing to them. She credits mindfulness as the reason this episode of depression lasted weeks, rather than months.
Her clearly quite thorough understanding of the topic is encouraging; research has proved that we can change our brains, or more specifically it's wiring, and that we don't have to accept this sense of arrested development, this belief many of us hold that we 'are the way we are'.
She is refreshing in her approach, insisting that you do not have to listen to bells and pour tibetan milk over yourself in order to be mindful. She encourages everyone to do so whenever a minute or two spare presents themselves: on the train, waiting for the kettle to boil. Despite her personal success with mindfulness, Wax is eager to reinforce that everyone's experience will be different. Whilst some may have wanted an evangelistic sales pitch for mindfulness as a kind of one-size-fits-all magic pill, others - myself included - will have appreciated her realism.
Ruby Wax is quite a one-woman force on stage; funny, self-deprecating. Her charm and warmth were revealed in the Q&A, and whilst she is happy to share her thoughts, she also is aware that a Masters' in MCBT is not always the appropriate qualification. One woman in the audience asked for advice on her daily panic attacks; Ruby urged her to attend the drop-in sessions she is hosting at the Arts theatre on Wednesday afternoon's in February, where she will be working with a team of experts and psychotherapists. She is clearly dedicated to increasing awareness about mental health and bringing about the eve of a sane new world.