At the same time, I am often very distracted, ADD, and unfocused. The things that I myself say – repeatedly – help with that – when I really listen to them and take them to heart.
That’s my story. Let me tell you about someone else who is an enthusiast for mindfulness. There’s a US congressman from the Midwest named Ryan. No, not Paul Ryan. Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio’s 13th congressional district was first elected in 2002 at age 29. He’s now in his 7th term. Three years ago, Tim Ryan came out with a book: A Mindful Nation. Not what I would expect from a sitting congressman. Full title: A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit.
It seems that sitting still and being quiet for a while each day – and trying to be mindful throughout the day – is not only a spiritual discipline but a patriotic duty.
Tim Ryan’s journey to mindfulness began with Jon Kabat-Zinn. Jon Kabat-Zinn is himself an interesting guy. Born Jon Kabat in 1944, he hyphenated his last name to Kabat-Zinn when he married Myla Zinn, the daughter of Howard Zinn (1922-2010), the great historian/social activist. Jon, as his father-in-law was, is a man committed to transformation. A professor of medicine and a long-time student of the Korean Zen master, Seung Sahn, in 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn integrated medicine and Zen and created MBSR – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction – and began teaching it at his Stress Reduction Clinic. Today, over 200 medical centers and clinics in the US and elsewhere use the MBSR model. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the author of:
- Full Catastrophe Living:How to Cope with Stress, Pain and Illness using Mindfulness Meditation; and
- Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.
Since then, Congressman Ryan has had a daily mindfulness practice. Says Ryan:
“It quiets the mind. It helps you harness more of your energy. It increases your focus and allows you to relax and pay better attention to what you’re doing and to those around you. My football coaches would have loved it. It’s the kind of performance enhancer any athlete would be eager to have. . . I wrote A Mindful Nation to promote the values of slowing down, taking care of ourselves, being kind, and helping each other.”Congressman Tim Ryan’s book surveys the scientific studies about how mindfulness practice strengthens our capacity for attention, for nonjudgmental sympathetic understanding. He goes on to devote chapters to:
- Mindfulness in our schools: how it can increase our children’s attention and kindness.
- Mindfulness in our hospitals and doctors’ offices: how it can improve our health and our healthcare system.
- Mindfulness in our military, police, and firefighters: how it can improve performance and build resiliency for the military and first responders – and how, later on, mindfulness is the path for coming to terms with PTSD.
- Mindfulness in the workplace: how it can help us rediscover our values and reshape our economy.
This is part 2 of 3 of "Mindfulness"
Part 1: Mindfulness
Part 3: Just Keep Noticing