I purchased this book because I saw a TV interview with the author and she said "It is a manual to deal with the negative voices inside your head" or something along those lines.
I am currently going through a stressful peroiod, so I relate to "voices" in my head: anxiety, negativity, fear of failure and a sense of not being good enough. Therefore the idea of a manual to deal with these voices appealed to me.
In this sense, Ruby Wax delivers.
The book is divided into parts, and each part provides background information to the punchline of the book, which is :practice mindfulness and you'll live a longer and happier life. Throughout the book there are also tidbits of Ruby's personal story, which relate to the point she is trying to make. I find these tidbits funny, but also an excellent way to relate the advise Ruby gives to my personal feelings.
Part one: It describes negative feelings and emotions that affect normal people like us. Modern life, with its fast pace and information overload, tries us to our very limit and we are ill equipped to face it with our brains that have evolved from hunting, gathering, roaming plains and singing songs. I find the humor in this section too dark on one or two instances. But maybe is because I am reading it under stress.
Part two: It describes problems that affect mentally ill people. The brain is incredibly complex but is after all an organ, just like the liver, the heart or kidneys, and when it faces physiological problems it can cause serious disturbance in our lives. This part serves two purposes: to illustrate how an injured/ill brain can make people behave in bizarre and unexpected ways and to propose that depression fits into this category, that people that suffer depression are not faking it or being whiny and should not be treated as social outcasts that ought to just harden up.
Part three: This is where it gets succinct and comprehensive. This part describes the brain in detail, its parts, processes, inner workings and interconnections. I felt as if I was looking under the hood of a car and the author was telling me what is the carburetor and what does it do, how do spark plugs fire up to create combustion inside the engine pistons, what is the role of the coolant in keeping the engine healthy,etc etc etc. A great read on its own.
Part four: The punchline of the book, the practice of mindfulness. The author introduces the concept of mindfulness and how it helps to calm a brain in overdrive. This part provides examples and exercises that the reader can practice to get started. With the information provided in previous chapters, the reader can see how mindfulness calms the mind and pay attention to how the body behaves when practicing exercises. I find this is useful information and I will come back to reread it multiple times, and I would like to know more.
Part Five: Alternative techniques. If mindfulness is not your cup of tea, the author shows similar techniques that have arisen from other studies that also help to calm the mind. The message of this part is that we are all different and we just need to find the technique that does the job for us.
Also I dint know the author or her previous show business life, but she is quite funny throughout the book.