Since the launch of Rewire Me, I have been touched and honored by the opportunity to meet some of the movers and shakers in the global movement of change. Recently I was fortunate enough to have a breakfast meeting with Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio. Apart from his work in Congress, Tim Ryan is the author of A Mindful Nation and keeps a daily mindfulness meditation practice. He has spoken out in favor of using mindfulness to help tackle various problems facing the country. “If one is practicing properly, slowing down and paying attention to what is happening in the moment,” he explained, “we can no longer ignore reality, even the painful stuff. That way of seeing will change your attitudes toward injustice.”

Meeting Tim Ryan
Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 13th congressional district

His work inspired the creation of the Mindful Nation Foundation, whose dream is “to build a mindful nation by creating a movement that promotes the values of slowing down, taking care of ourselves, being kind, and helping each other. We wholeheartedly believe by embracing these values individually, it will benefit us collectively. And our nation and the world will be much better for it.” What would a “mindful nation” look like? “Pupil-centered education, patient-centered healthcare, people-centered policies, and family-centered businesses.” Now who wouldn’t get onboard with that?

Like most of us, Tim has experienced a high level of stress. Ten years after beginning his political career as a young man in his 20s, he realized that if he continued down the path of politics (and stress), he wouldn’t make it to 40. He enrolled in a five-day workshop with Jon Kabat-Zinn that immersed him in mindfulness and changed his life. I’ve met famous people before, but I was particularly excited and nervous this time.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not at my sharpest at 8 a.m. and getting in late the night before didn’t help. But Tim was so down to earth—and funny!—that he put me at ease. By the time he told me he was half Italian, I was giving him my recipe for “sacred pasta” and offering to make it for him!

To at least one Congressman, mindfulness is embraced as a form of therapy for individuals, as well as a broad philosophical perspective that can put the country on a better course.

He detects a peaceful revolution afoot in this country and sees mindfulness as encouraging compassion, empathy, and eco- and global-mindedness. How amazing and gratifying to hear a politician speak in these terms! His approach to mindfulness is not intellectual or prayer-centered. It’s intensely practical, and he has high hopes for what it can achieve. Because mindfulness clearly benefits people, he said, “we are seeing validators like the U.S. Marine Corps, Google, Target, General Mills, many sports teams, and others who have implemented mindfulness-based practices as part of their institutions.”

To at least one Congressman, then, mindfulness is embraced as a form of therapy for individuals, as well as a broad philosophical perspective that can put the country on a better course. And I am now an active participant and board member of the Mindful Nation Foundation, and eager to find ways for Rewire Me to be associated with it. Oh—and I owe the Congressman one homemade pasta dinner.

A review of his book appears on Rewire Me today.

Rose Caiola
Inspired. Rewired.

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