It’s rare that a sitting politician is so deeply committed to not just his own mindfulness practice, but to bringing mindfulness and meditation to Schools, Hospitals, Veterans, Corporations and even Capitol Hill. Congressman Tim Ryan, Author of A Mindful Nation, was on the Untangle podcast recently and shared how Mindfulness might just be the key to finding what connects us rather than what divides us.
“Real Strength, whether it’s in an economy, business or in community is diversity. We need to celebrate this. We’ve got to recognize that we’re all in this together. “
Here are some excerpts from the recent interview.
On Starting Mindfulness Meditation
Right after the Presidential election in 2008, I was 35 yrs. old and feeling headed towards burnout. I found a 10-day Power of Mindfulness retreat with Jon Kabat Zinn, the author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and the creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. The retreat blew my mind and I’ve been meditating ever since.
How Meditation Helps
My busy mind used to wander quite a bit. When I’m meditating, I always feel better; intuitively more connected to people, sharper and more focused. The potential of human beings is so magnificent, so boundless. Meditation helps us get less wrapped up in our limiting stories (the ones we repeat over and over to ourselves), which can help us be more open to experiencing life and, in a sense, to be more open to where life might take you.
On Washington Politics
Being in DC and in politics, and even in our culture today – there’s just so much judgment on who’s better than whom and which political party is better. And, frankly, it can turn into hate and we’ve got enough hate in the world. Often you get mad at people simply because they threaten your storyline. It helps to stop and relax enough to take time out of your own story to listen and to begin focusing on what connects us rather than on what divides us. Maybe we can even stop judging people who have different beliefs from us.
The only thing we really have control over is ourselves – and where we choose to put our attention. So, I think slowing down a couple of times a day…even for just 5 to 10 minutes, helps you start to realize that you have a choice as to where you want to put your attention. Meditation basically helps to strengthen your ability to focus your mind on what it is you want to focus on.
On His Vision for America 2.0
We’re in a globalized economy that is dominated by huge structural shifts because of technology, automation, artificial intelligence …and all these things that are coming. It might be frightening to some people; a relief to others. The question I ask myself is “How do you have globalization that benefits everyone?” America 2.0 is a country that takes care of everyone, not just the wealthiest. It’s where everyone is included.
On How to Keep a Focus on What Connects Us vs. What Divides us
There are a lot of things that will help, but I think if we all just take time to get off the treadmill…even for just a few minutes a day…you can go deeper and when you’re a little deeper, you do start to see how you are connected to everyone else and everyone else is connected to you. And, that’s an important insight to have.
For the full interview, check out this link.
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