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.
I love this song – but this video has got me crying my eyes out! It reminds me that under all of the pain, there is still that bright young child looking out at the world with wonder and hope. Not just hope, but belief that the moment can be different, that things are never so bad one can only despair. And it reminds me of a therapist I knew who would always say “we are wounded in relationship…but we also heal in relationship”…and it’s only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to enter relationship – with friends, with lovers, with ourself – that healing can start to happen.
Mindfulness practice and Loving Kindness is about learning how to come into relationship with ourself, and with others. Learning how to love. We can do so much damage to ourselves with the hard, harsh inner dialogue: “When will I learn”, “what’s wrong with me”, “I’m such a failure”, “all these years of self development and workshops and still I’m a mess”, “when will I be fixed” and so it goes on, just add your own favourite! The desire to be fixed, to be free, to be well comes form a genuine wish to be whole, but when it manifests as a desire to reject what is there in one’s experience right now then it does the opposite, for to be whole is to heal, and to heal means to embrace whatever is there right now with love – holding the worry, fear, pain or whatever it might be that we wish was not there. “I could love my self if only I weren’t such a failure/ so full of anxiety/ so stupid…….” Is this Love? Thinking we could love some perfect abstract form of ourself, but not the mess that we are? Or is love that which embraces us exactly as we are right now?
Mindfulness and living a life based on awareness is a reminder to stop and feel at such times. Under the blame, the anger, the contempt is shame, and under the same is fear. Fear and shame do not need to be fixed or got rid of – they need to be seen, held and embraced. The unconditional aspect of loving Kindness means that we do not only love ourselves or others when we or they are doing what we think is right or when we are getting what we want. It is a love that responds to self or other in the moment as that moment presents itself – not as we think we or they should be or ought to be. This may be a very different way of loving to what we are used. Praise and pride can masquerade as love as a parent congratulates you on your achievements, but if the feeling is there that that affirmation would be removed if you had got a lower mark or failed the exam then it is not love. Love would say “I love you as the being you are, and well done for passing your exams”. Vicarious living out of one’s own hopes and aspirations through others success and the need to be seen to have produced successful offspring or have a successful partner says “I love you for doing well”.
To return to the quote from my therapist friend: “we are wounded in relationship…and we heal in relationship”. We may have internalised a sense that “I am only of worth when I achieve/make others proud of my success” We may fear rejection or be very proud. It is by coming into relationship with others that these get triggered and in our relationship with ourself that we can learn to embrace what is there, holding that which is in pain and wanting to be seen, heard, held. Our daily practice of mindfulness and loving Kindnesses creates the space to learn to embrace the moment as it is – but it is not for just in the meditation but something we bring to every moment. And then we may once more connect with that childlike sense of trust, love and vitality.