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Ruby Wax – How Mindfulness Can Transform Depression & Anxiety

Ruby Wax On How Mindfulness Can Transform Depression, Overcome Performance Anxiety & Create A ‘Sane New World’

In this interview Melli and Ruby explore how the modern world affects our brains and how mindfulness can help. Ruby talks about her incredibly popular show ‘sane new world’ and about the importance of the de-stigmatization of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

Listen as she shares her own story of how mindfulness transformed her experience of depression and gives advice for those who are suffering with it now.

Also hear how Ruby uses mindfulness to overcome nerves before going onstage.

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Show Notes

Join The Mindfulness Summit Journey here

Come and join the community discussions at any time on our Facebook page

You can find Ruby’s website here http://www.rubywax.net/ where you can also find out details of her shows and her books.

Here is the website mentioned for depression in Australia https://www.beyondblue.org.au/




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172 Responses

  1. Sharon O'Malley

    So much increased awareness here. Having a 35 year old daughter with anxiety and depression leading to self mutilation, my natural parental instinct is to try to give her tools to aid her emotional well-being. I now realize only “her people” can give her those tools. I now realize that it is through no fault of my parenting attempts that I have been unable to prevent, control, or cure her struggles. Thank you Ruby. I have also shared the Beyond Blue website. So many gifts already received in just nine days. With increasing practice, I am grateful, not only for my own increasing serenity and sense of presence, but also for any ripple effect outwardly to those nearest and dearest to me. To even total strangers of which I may never become aware. Nor do I need to be. In gratitude. Namaste.

    1. Mandy Easter

      Ahh Ruby!!! Paranoia/Borderline personality disorder most of my life. Been well and off meds since December! 🙂 But still have to be very careful and still prone to paranoid thinking under stress. You are so right as it comes down to being able to recognize the signs! Long time Buddhist and mindfulness pratictioner…BUT I forget/ get side tracked and don’t practice as I know I need to…take time off my work at times to do a home retreat though when things get too much …no internet, no people, just myself and lots of mindfulness teachings etc. But need to find a balance really…stop it before it gets to the retreat needed stage! This summit is really hitting home to me how much I need to practice every day still…to keep the beast at bay! Thank you Ruby and EVERYONE!

    2. choice1115676

      Oh my, this was totally real and heart felt! I do not know who Ruby is so I could not relate to her comedian aspects or what she does for a living. However, it reached into my deeper self and allowed a sense of one-ness with who I am deep inside, beyond all the mental disruptions/illness. It touched me deeply, so thank you Ruby. I just connected to my “tribe” with others that have abuse history through (Trauma Touch Therapy). We are real with it and like Ruby says, others want to push it away and make it go away or get over it. Plus Mindfulness is helping me recognize the warnings and helps me get through it (still learning).
      And thank you Melli I so love how you interview with all of your guest. The Summit is very helpful to me. Thank you everyone.

  2. Cecile Underdown

    This talk became very personal for me, having suffered depression and hiding it behind humor. I like when Ruby said with cancer you want to live but with depression you want to die….so true. Ruby you have won my heart.
    Thank you Melli for such great speakers.

    1. See, it’s comments like this that just touch my heart and spur me on when things get hard or very very busy behind the scenes here. Ceceile, thanks so very much for your comment and I’m so glad you’re here with us on this mindful month long adventure : )

  3. tyoung2941

    Thank you Ruby! You inspired me to reconect with my heart. You helped me heal some of my wonds I have there. It is so nice to listen to someone who speaks your language, if you know what I mean. I have alwas admired you and looked at you as a sister. Thank you for making ripples that reached me. Love, light

  4. Darren

    “Just Perk Up” stood out to me in this interview. I personally got stuck with a point-of-view, for a very long time, staring at the ineffective stuff attached to mental illness (PTSD, Depression, Addiction). People would say such things as this to me all the time, and I knew they were right.

    “You need to get out of your own head.” I heard this too, often from people close to me. Of course it was meant to help: but to be real, it certainly didn’t.

    Those who would share such things hold a point-of-view, without the mess of illness getting in the way: of course the world looked brighter for these folks, and ‘perking up’ for them is easier for them. So, stuck, with only the mess of the worlds response to see, there is no shift that can come for us that is real, that we can hold onto (like the so-called normal can).

    It really has been only in the last five years or so that dramatic change is rising to the top of the milk like cream for us who’ve struggled so long. The shift, HAS provided a new perspective of mental illness, for us to cling to, offering us so much hope, finally, that we can, maybe not totally ‘over-come’ – But there are enough quality mentors now ‘out’ like Ruby who have learned how to make the best of what can be a horrible experience.

    With Mindfulness now, even in rural British Columbia, Canada infiltrating the Mental Health Treatment Community: The World is Catching Up.


    And, Yes. I’ve visited the site you mentioned. You guys are ahead. But we are, in Canada, finally catching up.

    Thanks Ruby and Melli.

    Be Well. Blessing.

  5. Christine Evans

    Phew…Ruby was too frenetic for me. So much so I almost stopped watching half way through. Then when she got to the part about seeing people who reminded us of someone and having old feelings emerge….hmmmm…something to ponder there as freneticism sets me off for some reason. I loved the line “if the devil had Tourettes” and her honesty though. 🙂

  6. Eileen Yee

    This summit has been wonderful, until today
    As another comenter said, not my cup of tea.
    I felt Ruby did not answer a single question nor did she provide
    Any insight. She likes Mark Williams, that’s the most I learned.
    Melli is a fabulous hostess, she certainly tried to keep Ruby on track.
    I am thoroughly enjoying this summit and deeply appreciate all the work that goes into it. This came along at a critical point in my life, so thankful for a friend who suggested it to me.

  7. Laurie

    Oh Ruby what a gem you are. Such a breathe of fresh air, which I almost choked on laughing out loud! I hope your show tours Canada one day. Thank you Melli for being such a thoughtful, present interviewer. It’s really a joy and inspiration watching these videos at the start of my day. Sat Nam.

  8. michelle

    Ruby offered some wonderful points but i also felt her answers were stream of consciousness. It was slightly difficult to follow her thinking at all times. I appreciate her journey and her humor. Melli thank you for being such a gracious host to this eclectic panel. And for offering this mindfulness summit. I practice meditation/Buddhism in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn and I’m happy to know the mindfulness movement is growing.

  9. Chantelle

    Oh, so much YES!

    “It’s a disease of self-punishment and self-loathing.”
    “Part of the healing is meeting your own people. And when you can see they have the same dead animal look in their eye, then you know, ‘phew I didn’t make this up!’ Because that’s the stigma: that we actually think we’re making it up because you haven’t got a scab. Find your people.”


  10. Anita French

    Love the Ferrari analogy, love the on-stage-dry-mouth-recentering-on-feet story (I will use it!). and her last comments on traits of people she likes that practice mindfulness…like lack of narcissism (!), and having an open vista without projection. THANK YOU. <3

  11. Steve Unwin

    I am enjoying the variety of people being interviewed and especially their personal and honest comments and observations (much nicer than a more formal talk or lecture) combined with their own particular expertise. This is both uplifting and informative. Thank you to all (and to Melli).

  12. Ellen Cedergreen

    This one was uncomfortable for me and I had to really look at my own ideas. The frenetic stream of consciousness, as another viewer mentioned, was hard. Once I got over that– realized my own associations, and kept at it, I saw a completely different reality. I love Ruby. I know from experience how hard it is to face something that everybody else is trying to not see. That increases the isolation so much. To give someone a moment of compassion and understanding, as Ruby is doing with “her people” is the best there is in human behavior. Her cushion story had me rofl.

    Thanks, Ruby, for being brave, being yourself, and giving yourself a chance to heal through mindfulness.

    This video is a reminder of “the whole catastrophe”.

    Oh, and I really got today that the answer to the question is a full on projection of the asked.

  13. Alisa Snow

    I am so grateful that a friend told me about this summit. I have learned so much in just the first 9 days. Melli, thank you for bringing together such an eclectic group of speakers. You are a gracious host and you have such a refreshing spirit!

  14. Jo-Anna Roberts

    Thank you for including Ruby Wax’s insightful and personal perspective on mental health and mindfulness. Opening up the conversation is so important. Loved hearing more about her show.

  15. Felipe

    I really enjoyed this interview today. She reminded me of one thing I heard in my yoga class: There isn’t a stop for life’s challenge. The sanctuary is inside, not outside. We gotta discover how our own mind works to not get caught up in bad energy and lose ourselfs.

    Thank you Melli. This one was oddly intriguing.

  16. Gill Robinson

    I saw Ruby in Edinburgh and knew her approach to mindfulness. To me she makes sense of my symptoms and has helped me deal with my depression . I understand and get where she comes from. Thank you Ruby, you were a lifeboat when I was drowning. My people indeed.

  17. Sharon Hanna

    Love Ruby Wax. I too have had cancer (two kinds!) as well as depression – sometimes terrible and pretty long-lasting.
    “Perk Up!” – hilarious……the things that people say to you – just go for a run, etc. The ferrari but no keys – ha ha. Wonderful.

  18. Sharon Hanna

    Oops – and PS, the cancer was way easier. Even the chemotherapy, hospitalization, nausea, fear, etc. Depression is a zillion times worse. Maybe also because it’s so isolating.

  19. Emily Hanlon

    Thanks Mel, good interview with Ruby and good insights into her story of study & mindfullness, feeing a little confused though, my video cut short at the end, great work Mell looking forward to tomorrow’s speaker Thank you Emily

  20. Mavis Wheatcroft

    I stuck it out and listened to the whole thing. What I got most from this is watching Melli be respectful and truly listening as she also considered us as the listeners and trying to keep the focus. I was reminded that we are all connected and I worked hard on being compassionate and non-judgemental. I wasn’t always successful as I listened to this particular talk; however, I look forward to learning more and practicing more.

    Having said that, I have found a lot of value from each of the previous speakers in this series and and am very grateful for the work that has been done to bring this summit and related resources to so many people.

  21. Gillian Moon

    Another fantastic interview – thank you Ruby and Melli. I found Ruby’s approach candid, authentic, honest and humorous! I think you spoke in a way that many of can understand.

  22. Ali Woolgar

    Loved this talk especially and Ruby was great. So wonderful to have such an ambassador with such honesty mixed with cynical humour.

    I loved the line about the devil with Tourette’s (please can I borrow it for a talk I’m giving?) and thought Ruby gave some great balanced advice about at what stage to use mindfulness.

    Her frankness and normalising is a relief – as a normal-mad bordering on occasional bouts of mad-mad.

    Thanks Melli for everything. This was a real highlight.


  23. Beverly

    yes, the audio ended abruptly but, gee, what a wonderful interview.

    I agree with the comment about Mel; I too find her really engaged, asking, listening, being present.

    This is a wonderful series – and the truthful, personal and frank discussion today moved me.

    Thank you!

  24. Sabina Adanic

    Just wanted to comment that I really enjoy the comments down here. Ruby is really so .. well, you can’t be indifferent, you like her or you don’t. and maybe that’s why she was great for today’s talk. I see lots of us had a lot to learn just from the experience of listening to her and trying to feel, understand, not judge… She caught me at the last part of the talk, I guess now I’m on her side 😉

  25. denise douek

    i am enjoying the summit each speaker has a message we can benefit from ,the message i loved the most was practice loving kindness ,be connected and be aware which is the definition of mindfulness,i believe each one of us can make the world a better place ,BELIEVE.

  26. Helena Saray

    Thank you Melli for Day 9: the dialog with Ruby was intriguing, she is hilarious!

    In between the laughs and animation, I appreciated her insight on mental health and depression; I love her idea of “walk-in centers” for immediate help, and that learning mindfulness can help with “early warning” for onset of depression, and not to give advice on “mindfulness ” to people around us who are in deep depression. There is so much to learn about mental health issues… a global phenomena.

  27. Patricia Gordon

    My favorite part was hearing the idea of “neural wifi” speaking about formal sitting. “When you are around it- it is so much easier to breath.” Thank you Ruby for that idea.

  28. Lina

    YES, YES, YES and THANK YOU! Such a heavy one and yet I am going to bed super light hearted with a smile on my face, shaking my head about how crazy we all are, feeling not alone with my spinning mad mind. Thanks for this much honesty!
    And THANK YOU for this Summit again!!! I haven’t missed one day yet and I’m going to miss it. It is giving my day a wonderful ritual and it is motivating me to sit again regularly. So grounding, so reliefing, so enriching!

  29. mail1861

    I really appreciate the comments on this particular broadcast- can see how some really loved it and it did not speak to others (I had a mixed response.) Just emphasizes to me that this material can and should be offered in many different ways as different styles of communication and methods of teaching will appeal to different people. Congratulations for offering some of this variety here.

  30. Bonnie

    Every individual views theri personal brain ruptures and the healing over of the ruptures differently. To me Ruby seems frantic in her search for like people thinking they can commune with her differently. It felt like she is in a fight, flight for/from her life and only those who suffer as she has, can understand this particular disease. My daughter has many times purchased the “150 pillows”, suffers from tremendous depression and self loathing, and thinks no one who does not suffer can understand her. She also seems frantic in trying to make people understand her. I do understand her train runs on a different set of tracks, but she thinks I cannot be a part of her life because she is different from me. I see my daughter in you Ruby, and your talk wore me out just as my daughter wears me down, for in my mindfulness I can’t keep up with the speed of the thoughts racing through your brain. It has nothing to do with liking or not liking a person with this set of brain waves, it simply is that I can’t keep up with the endless shift from one movement to the next. As you are living this, from your perspective, so are those around you living it and we also are hanging on by our fingertips trying to be there for you. In love and peace.

  31. Jan Hill

    Thanks Melli…. apologies for getting your name wrong last comment. This interview has opened up so many questions for me. There was some wonderful advice for people with severe depression, to sit and KNOW it will pass, I imagine would be helpful. As well as the acknowledgement what each individual may be going through and not devalue themselves.

    At the end, she raised concerns that I have and I’m sure many others have too. It is uplifting to be around people that practise mindfulness and become happier, calmer more contented etc, but the world has been at war for a long time, as Ruby says, why would it change? We could say it changes one person at a time.

    I was on my walk this morning talking with friends and I found myself saying things with a little more confidence that I would not have said before. Being more at peace with myself and looking more broadly at how to give others the opportunity to let go of fear by letting go of my own. However we need more, as Rick Hanson talks about including a moral commitment to meet our core needs as well as recognising human vulnerabilities (deficits and disturbances) and create change like the ripple on the water.

  32. Shantelle Bates

    Thank you Melli and Ruby for a wonderful session. My eyes are more open to depression/mental illness and the affects that it causes. The humor to which Ruby delivered this made it easier for me to understand the information. It’s definitely reassuring to know that the support is out there for those who need it, and their friends and loved ones to assist. Mindfulness is just one of many steps along a long path. Thanks for today

  33. Kerry Brennan

    Fantastic talk. I too laughed out loud and loved it. I actually listened this morning – but came back to the interview this evening to rewind the moments of true honesty. So rare these days — except in this summit. All the speakers have be so beautifully REAL. Feeling very grateful to witness this all. Thank you.

  34. Ruth R+Davidson

    The interview cut out at 33:14 before it was officially over. Any chance that can be fixed?

    Also, I wish we had a longer interview with her with more practical tips about mental illness. But, otherwise it was good. I get it because I am one of her people.

  35. Marty Farty

    that story about the guy with cancer and depression, the former made him want to live and the latter want to die really interested me. It was like a lightbulb appeared above my head (like in cartoons) but I’m not exactly sure why. I will put down my thoughts on paper, it usually helps to make sense of it but no guarantees! haha

    1. Marty Farty

      Breaking it down cancer in most cases I imagine would not affect the brain so wherever that natural instinct to go on living is not inhibited, where as depression maybe shuts off/out this natural instict to go on living. Assuming this is right it raises another interesting question and thats where does that natural will to live come from..

      1. Marty Farty

        Just had the best full circle moment, I started writing can you tap into that fighting to live mentality. To fight for your passions like your life depended on it, another way to put it is just to get that laser focus. It was at this moment I realised mindfulness is helping me do that. Good times

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