The Mindful Congressman

Big up to Congressman Tim Ryan, who is hard at work building a mindful movement in America. Reaching across party lines, Congressman Ryan is working to bring mindful practices to veterans, Capital Hill, and recently had an appropriations bill passed to bring mindfulness practices to a public school in his hometown district of Youngstown, Ohio.

‘Ryan meditates in a half-lotus position for about 40 minutes each day, he says, sitting on his couch at home or on a cushion. He is optimistic about things. People are “fundamentally good,” he writes in the book. “Our basic nature is not unadulterated self-indulgence and consumption. Our spirit is not violent. Our soul does not desire that we get rich by any means necessary.” ‘ Washington Post

Last week, the Congressman and I spent the afternoon together at the Broome Street Academy, a charter school for foster and homeless children, observing one of the yoga classes run by the Sonima Foundation, and speaking with the director of the school. He spoke passionately about the need for our country to not just become more thoughtful, caring and kind, but to learn how to deal with the incessant distractions that we are inundated with – all achievable through the simple practice of meditation. Much of this is outlined in his book, Mindful Nation, which, if you have not read, you should. It is the first direct foray into contemplative practice for daily living written by a public politician, and hopefully is a sign of the times to come.

On Monday, March 31st, Congressman Ryan will be leading a discussion/fundraiser at Deepak Chopra’s Homebase at ABC Carpets in NYC, on how this movement can help shape an integrated mindful policy and spark a national dialogue around some of our country’s most important issues including health care (especially preventative), education, veteran’s benefits, income equality and food policy.

As yoga and meditation practitioners, we often remark how amazing it would be if more people in government, medicine, education and correctional institutions would start doing some practice – well, they are beginning to, and it’s just a matter now of drawing them out and increasing the ranks. Tim Ryan is one such person who is actively pushing this dialogue to the forefront. If we would like to see these beneficial and life-transforming practices become incorporated into the fabric of our system, then we have to support people like Tim – so, in the interest of a healthy, mindful nation, why not consider helping. You can purchase a ticket to Tim’s fundraiser here, or simply donate towards his campaign.

Congressman Tim Ryan and I outside of the Broome Street Academy
Congressman Tim Ryan and me outside of the Broome Street Academy