Mindfulness – the zeitgeist way to stay sane

August 15, 2013 by
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Mindfulness is the new zeitgeist way of looking at mental health, I learned from Ruby Wax last week – she told me about it in an interview for the Daily Telegraph last week (with lovely pics by Tania Dolvers). The comedian has just been awarded an MA in mindfulness and cognitive therapy from Oxford University, and written a book Sane New World.  She uses it as a tool in her own life, to keep depression at bay, and led a workshop at the NOW festival, part of the larger Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire.

http://www.taniadolvers.co.uk/

All in the mindfulness: Ruby and me; Picture: Tania Dolvers 

 

It’s not often you get to take something away from an interview, but Ruby very generously gave me personal advice and tips on using simple focusing and breathing to reduce the stress of modern life – to bring down levels of the flight-or-flight hormone cortisol – not to mention the heart rate. ‘Everyone’s brain is being torn in so many places. Find a place, put your feet on the floor. Learn to cool yourself down.’

Adds Ruby: ‘I use it every day; I like to feel plateau-ed.’

As a concept, mindfulness is already endorsed by the Mental Health Foundation as a way of reducing stress – you can take their test and find out if you need help.  Its roots are in Buddhism; it was really popularised through the work of  Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

It was also good to meet the founder of NOW – Jana Stefanovska. Based in South East London, NOW’s approach is to create synergy between the worlds of the arts and well-being, creating events and festivals which surprise and inspire. She says: ‘Drawing on the concept of mindfulnessNOW Festival 2013 invites the audience to take part in a range of arts and wellbeing activities with over 60 of the UK’s most thought-provoking artists, writers, poets, musicians, actors and thinkers.

It is the first ever festival to fuse mindfulness and ‘carpe diem’ – one of the most famous visions of the roles of the arts ever. From literature, theatre, visual arts and dance to feasting, gardening, mindfulness and yoga, NOW Festival 2013 allows you to Disconnect, Stop & Reconnect.’

Information about new events can be found at the NOW website or following @NowFestivalUK

About the Author

Victoria Lambert has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and specialises in health and medical matters. She writes for the Telegraph, the Times, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Mail and the Mail on Sunday. She contributes to Saga, Geographical and First Eleven magazines – where she is the agony aunt.

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