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Posts tagged ‘MBCT’

Ruby Wax on Mindfulness

Today I’ve attached a talk by Ruby Wax.  I went to see her show when she was in London recently and this is an earlier version of it. She is a fantastic proponent of mindfulness as she does not fit the stereotype at all! I was at a mindfulness conference a few years ago where she was the final speaker.  All of the previous speakers had had an appropriate tone, demeanour and register – calm, softly spoken, speaking form stillness. Then Ruby Wax came on! A few people were late coming in as there had been a break and she looked at them and said “what the F…k, …..”and made a joke about being late! There’s an authenticity to her presentation as I feel the rawness of the place she is speaking from. She is not pretending to be fixed or to be free from the struggles and mental anguish that led to her depression. But she speaks eloquently of the pain and of how mindfulness provides her with a tool to be with it.

As a friend of mine once said of himself “I’m a mess in progress”. Sometimes it helps to hear from someone who is at ease with the mess that they are and is able to share form that place without their inner critic getting in the way and telling them to shut up and put on a good front. The sad thing in life is that we all show our Facebook personas to the world: happy, successful, full of fun and interesting activities. But this is only a part of our life and by this collective act of not sharing from the place where we struggle we are all left feeling that our dark place is a strange anomaly only felt by us. In fact it is what we all feel, it’s what unites us – the fear of our sense of lack, our fear of failure, the thoughts that say we are no good or are only of worth if we keep succeeding and being the best – it’s this that we all share and keep  hidden. The result is that we can feel so alone with this secret, and it’s a delight to hear someone like Ruby Wax openly laughing at it and showing how she found her way through by using mindfulness.

I hope you enjoy this, her humour is distinct and may not be for everyone but if you listen her overall message there’s a lot of learning in this half hour.

When sadness comes knocking at the door remember it’s fine to feel whatever you are feeling!

Last week I discussed noticing the happy moments and holding those in awareness. What happens though when we are presented with more painful emotions? Remembering to notice the happy moments is important but what do we do with the other experiences – the pain, anxiety, fear, anger etc? We can either live in a dualistic mode of looking only for that which we label as good and then rejecting anything else or we can learn to embrace the present moment as it is. Jung said “what you resist persists, what we fight we get more of”. Mindfulness allows us to hold whatever is arising with a non judgemental attitude of curiosity and investigation. Being mindful does not mean floating above the experience and zoning out, but being fully present to it whilst not becoming it.

This attitude of embracing non-judgemental and compassionate awareness is given expression by non-duality teacher Jeff Foster:

If you feel sad for no reason,
embrace the reasonless spontaneity of your sadness!
In the first light of morning,
when you hear a bird singing her spontaneous song,
you’re not pushing for reasons.
Sadness does not arise to be healed.
It arises to be heard.
It arises to be held,
here, in the loving arms of awareness.

With this attitude any emotion arising in the present moment is simply inviting us to bring gentle attention to the experience. It is not asking to be fixed. If sadness arises we can start by acknowledging, “Feeling sad” and then bring curious attention to how this is felt in the body – perhaps a heaviness in the shoulders, a sense of tears around the eyes, tightness in the chest….. One then holds this in awareness, breathing in to the sensations and having a sense of holding the sensations in an allowing embrace.

If the sadness/ difficult emotion is there we either open the door to it and welcome it home or push it down into the cellar and bolt the door. Welcoming and embracing the feeling allows for healing. Whereas lost in the darkness the sadness/ painful emotion can sound like a monster and we fear opening the door again to let it out. Being left in the dark it festers and grows warped.

I had a nightmare recently that seems to relate to this theme. I was attacked by an angry man running out of the woods and woke up screaming. The next night I became lucid (knowing that I was dreaming as I was experiencing the dream.) Being lucid I was able to remember my dream from the previous night and asked to meet the man again. The dream immediately shifted and I found myself in a visiting room in a prison. I heard footsteps and he stood at a door with two guards holding him. The guards released him and he ran at me and tried to rip me apart but I held him in a firm embrace. I was thinking “its fine, this is a dream so he can’t hurt me no matter what he does to my dream body”. Eventually he stopped struggling and fighting and I felt as if I was holding a sad child. The sadness had just gone wild and destructive through being denied.

Whatever is going on for you just know you’re ok. However hard it may be to stay with the emotions that knock at the door asking to be let in, to be heard, to be held and seen know that it’s ok to feel whatever you’re feeling. You can hold it with awareness and breathe into it rather than become it or be overwhelmed by it. Feel yourself like the sky. Embracing the darkest storm cloud but still being clear, luminous, spacious and free.

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