Monday, February 20, 2017

Frazzled Book Review

Before I Read Frazzled: I attended Ruby's Frazzled Tour which is based around this book. I was already a fan of Ruby Wax and interested in Mindfulness beforehand. I ordered the book that same night and couldn't wait to get started.

Overview: Ruby uses a light, chatty tone with comedy and wit to deliver something more serious and scientific. The book is not intimidating to read or patronising to the reader. It's very easy going throughout. The book gave me an endless stream of "yes!" moments about my own mental health journey and thoughts in general. The book does not scream "self help here" which makes it enjoyable, whether you want to begin to practise mindfulness or not it helps shed light on the mystery that is our mind.

My Take: The first chapter looks at how much stress we have created for ourselves in this modern age. We are always busy but with no purpose and always chasing a goal but not sure why. Ruby speaks of how hard we are on ourselves which we base on fiction, presumption, vague facts and unrelated incidents. It appears that not many people are happy being themselves even though they're not sure who they are or you else they'd want to be! We don't know what we want, who we are, where we're going but we keep striving on causing ourselves more stress which our brains are just not designed for.

Ruby then explains the basic concept of mindfulness. It is learning to observe, focus, slow down and be kinder to yourself. The practise will help you to accept things as they are without sugar coating it, exaggerating or distorting the facts. It's not about having a perfectly calm and uneventful life or wandering around in your own little world oblivious to anything bad around you. Ruby takes away any doubts or fear of starting mindfulness practise with honesty and humour.

Chapter three shows us the science behind our brains and how mindfulness can help us achieve a healthier mind and body. It's a great insight into how we think and why we think like that. This supporting evidence is easy to take in and comforting as you can see that we are not the awkward loner or unique freak our minds might trick us into thinking we are. We are all very similar but some brains takeover in less helpful ways than others.

Ruby then opens up to a very honest chapter to talk through a struggle of her own. This sobering chapter makes mindfulness seem more real. It's no longer all sunshine and rainbows or 'the cure' it's real. It shows that it can work but that we need to harness it. It won't make us superhuman or immune to mental illness or stress but it will arm us to take it on. Having said that there is still trademark wit throughout this section.

The next chapter is Ruby's take on mindfulness with a six week course to work through. I'll leave this for you to discover without my input.

Now that we know how to keep ourselves mindful the book moves onto mindfulness and others. Firstly looking at relationships and how we react and respond to different social situations. It looks at how we all yearn for that sense of being included and acceptance and how not over analysing and worrying about these things can bring us that better chance of happiness.

Chapter 7 and 8 for me are brilliant. They focus on mindful parenting from babies up to the teenage years. With my background in Early Education and childcare I would agree that the exercises and tips given are very beneficial. I have used a lot of the techniques and games that Ruby mentions and have seen the effect they can have on calming young children and helping them to focus. I also used to meditate and do something very similar to mindfulness in my karate classes (10 hours a week) as a teen and think without this I would have had a mental breakdown at a lot younger age, or possibly smashed up a classroom! As Ruby reminds us it needs to start with ourselves, so no skipping to this bit mummies and daddies! This part isn't just for parents and would be a great read for childcare providers, teachers, grandparents, older siblings, teenagers or anyone just interested in psychology.

Frazzled ends with a look at Ruby's own journey of mindfulness during her visit to a Welsh retreat. This chapter makes the whole idea seem a lot more human! Mindfulness can sometimes seem to be one of those zen states of mind that sounds amazing but unattainable for many. Ruby let's us see that it's not an easy ride but it's worth it. Backed up with science we see how much Ruby gained from her experience and understand why mindfulness is now a part of her daily life, as it can be for us too. It's not just for the super laid back, chilled out, happy-go-lucky among us, it's for everyone of all ages.

My overall view: read this book! If you aren't going to start practising mindfulness you will have a chance to understand your mind and why it does all the stuff you've never quite got your head around. It will bring you an understanding of people around you and if you're not interested in any of those things... it's an easy and enjoyable read full of humour.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled can be found at:
Amazon: Audio Book Paperback Copy

Let me know what you thought of Frazzled in the comments section below.

Much love,
Becky xx

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