Sane New World

We are not equipped for this century, it’s too hard, too fast, and too full of fear; we just don’t have the bandwidth. Our brains can’t take so much information in a world where we’re bombarded by bad news and force-fed information. I can just about take in the weather then I’m exhausted.
— Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax is currently touring her new live show based on her latest book, 'Sane New World', which gives everyone a strategy for understanding their minds a little better. Her approach is to use mindfulness in everyday life to promote neurological changes in the brain (known as neuroplasticity) that result in feelings of calm and reduced stress. 

Part of the show is a guided meditation that elicits a switching of mental gears from being preoccupied with the thinking mind to awareness of the senses in the present moment. This simple shift of attention automatically activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is your body's way of resting and relaxing. When you're thinking about the past and the future or engaged in  self talk, especially if it's in a negative way, you tend to have the sympathetic nervous system activated, which  goes hand in hand with the 'fight or flight' stress response.

So simply by shifting your focus away from thoughts and into the present moment, whether that's what you can hear, see, feel, touch, taste or smell, you'll switch between these two autonomic nervous systems and start to relax. This creates new pathways in the brain that make the switch easier and you'll find yourself in the parasympathetic mode more often, resulting in numerous mental and physical benefits. This works like most skills; the more we do it, the better we get at it. It may seem hard at first and easy to forget about, but over time and with a little persistence we can become more present, aware, and relaxed. 

Wax's live show presents these ideas in a hilarious way with many self-deprecating and honest examples of how our own humanness can take us off track. Her stories of stressing out, having zero time, negative self talk, and ridiculous shopping habits are presented in a way that let's us laugh at our own human shortcomings, while giving us a proven strategy for improving these situations through mindfulness. 

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