- Islamist militants seize special forces base in Benghazi, Libya
- Feds sue Pennsylvania State Police over women’s fitness tests
- Israel accused of striking U.N. school, killing at least 15
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
Washington was making Rep. Tim Ryan sick … until he found mindfulness
Ohio Democrat touts emotional, cognitive, health benefits of meditative practice
Question of the Day
When Rep. Tim Ryan recently published a book touting the benefits of a meditative practice known as mindfulness, the Ohio Democrat had a target audience: anyone and everyone suffering from chronic stress, emotional exhaustion, information overload.
In other words, himself.
Oh, and pretty much the rest of America, too.
“I don’t want to give away names, but I’ve had members of Congress approach me and say, ‘I want to learn more about this,’ ” Mr. Ryan said. “Between the fundraising, being away from family, the environment of hyperpartisanship, Washington is really stressing people out. They’re getting sick.
“And I haven’t met anyone in the country that isn’t feeling a high level of anxiety right now, given the economy and what’s going on in the world. So mindfulness is for everyone.”
In his book “A Mindful Nation” and during regular public speaking engagements, Mr. Ryan asserts that mindfulness is a simple, largely overlooked tonic for what ails us. That it not only can help individuals cope with the pressures of modern life, but also help treat traumatized veterans, raise better-educated children and reduce ballooning health care costs — all while fostering a less divisive, more productive Washington culture in which solving problems takes precedence over scoring political points.
If all that sounds a bit implausible — if not downright Panglossian, a mushy mashup of self-help pablum, former NBA coach Phil Jackson’s Zen master koans and the Beatles going to India — then surprise: Decidedly unsentimental science backs Mr. Ryan up.
According to a growing body of research, regular meditation alleviates depression, boosts memory and the immune system, shrinks the part of the brain that controls fear and grows the areas of the brain responsible for memory and emotional regulation.
Small wonder, then, that corporations ranging from Google to Procter & Gamble Co. offer mindfulness training for their employees. Or that the U.S. Marines are experimenting with a pilot program of their own.
In 2007, the National Institutes of Health reported that 9.4 percent of American adults practiced meditation, up from 7.6 percent in 2002.
“I think this is going to be the equivalent of the physical exercise revolution in this country,” Mr. Ryan said. “Once desk jobs became the norm, everyone realized you have to run and work out, and gyms popped up everywhere.
“Today, mindfulness will be a response to the wars, struggling to make ends meet, the general anxiety out there — and in Washington, to the daily rhetoric and screaming at each other on TV shows. This can be transformational. It should be mainstream. We need this.”
An unlikely advocate
Like many of his House colleagues, Mr. Ryan starts most days with a cup of coffee; unlike many of them, he then spends about 45 minutes sitting in a half-lotus position — legs crossed, palms open — thinking about … nothing.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell's wife had 'crush' on CEO
- McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the "Islamic State" quickly and cheaply
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world