The Blog

On Compassion

Why do we always need to find someone to blame for our discomfort in being alive? If I can figure out this 'c' thing I may be able to save the world or at least myself.

I'm thinking of writing another book. Delivering another book is like giving birth; you forget the agony of the last time you had to push for months in labour and then it's out of your hands. If I'm going to stick with writing about mindfulness which is pretty much the thing that interests me most, I have to not just repeat and regurgitate my old records but dive into stuff that's deeper and unknown to me right now, otherwise I'm always swimming in my old habits, holding onto the life raft of the same old, same old. I'm doing what I rail against which is letting your mind atrophy because it's easier to stick with the Devil you know.

I've been doing mindfulness for eight years and,no question, I can feel the benefits. Otherwise why continue? Who has the time? I don't even have time to take a shower each day and sometimes I don't. (Don't tell anyone). Along with the fact that actually sitting and watching your thoughts for any length of time makes the triathlon look easy. How many of those Iron Men men could actually look inside their heads at how they're living their lives and survive? Not many; that's why they run, swim, bicycle, climb mountains, mount something....whatever. The results of my practice are subtle but it does deliver what it says on the package: I can (sometimes) pay attention when I want to for far longer than before; I know my mind better and can sense when my thoughts are starting to snare me into those cycles of despair; I can sometimes when I choose to visit the present and actually, as the cliché goes, 'smeIl the roses'; I can recognize the early signs of depression when it's starting to rear its Satanic head and at least prepare myself for the onslaught. In the past I'd get busier, thinking that I could ignore it and show the world how perfectly 'fine' I was. Big mistake. Now when I sense it, I lay low and acknowledge that it's not my self-indulgent imagination but a real disease, as real as cancer, only the tumour is my thoughts. In this way I can ditch the shame, which is the real killer.

One of the most important remits of doing mindfulness is - when observing your more than often, gruelling, self-punishing thoughts - you practice giving yourself some compassion and only then can you use it on others. I have difficulty even saying the 'c' word because it's something I associate with those greeting cards with a cute puppy on the front saying, "I woof you." So when people say the 'c' word I get the same 'I could lose my lunch' feeling. Part of the reason I don't associate with the 'c' thing is because I know that my particular internal theme songs are centred around my envy, jealousy, hatred of those who I think are dropping me or screwing me (not sexually) and wanting people dead who are doing better than me etc. (This could go on to fill whole books).

At this point in my life I want to see if I can maybe not get rid of but maybe lower the volume of these agonizing songs in my head that won't shut up. I know that if I want to evolve just a tiny step, I'll need to not just be able to say the 'c' word but do it to myself and others without feeling I've gone all yoghurty and dream-catchery. I want to get to this point now in my life and know I need to start planning for the journey, just like you would a holiday. I need to wean myself off my addiction to busy-ness and not depend on other people to make me feel as if I exist. I need to stop being so needy of other people, trying to suck some love out of them like a desperate bee because I cannot produce it myself. Even as I say this stuff I'm trying to feel some 'c'.

I love doing my show because it makes me feel connected to the human race and bask in the warmth of my tribe. I'm opening my Frazzled Cafes, which I know is out of compassion because I know the only way to take some pressure out of our worn out psyches, is to let out some air, in front of others. I really want to experience what this 'c' word feels like inside. Then I'll be able to really understand how we humans can relate better to each other: Partner to partner, parents to kids, kids to parents, to our friends, our co-workers, etc. I might even be able to have a clue as to how we can improve our relationships to money, sex, death, rock and roll, and why we always, throughout time, feel the need to point a finger and hunt down an enemy, spending all our energy trying to annihilate him or her. Why do we always need to find someone to blame for our discomfort in being alive? If I can figure out this 'c' thing I may be able to save the world or at least myself.

You can buy Ruby's bestselling latest book, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, in all good bookshops and online.

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