Tips For Being Mindful From A U.S. Congressman
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Tips For Being Mindful From A U.S. CongressmanBeing present-moment people.
A quiet revolution is happening in America. It’s not a revolution fueled by anger lurking on the fringes of our democracy. It’s a peaceful revolution, being led by ordinary citizens: teachers in our public schools; nurses and doctors in hectic emergency rooms, clinics, and hospitals; counselors and social workers in tough neighborhoods; military leaders in the midst of challenging conflicts; and many others across our nation. This revolution is supported by the work of scientists and researchers from some of the most prominent colleges and universities in America, such as the University of Wisconsin, Stanford, UCLA, the University of Miami, Emory, Duke, and Harvard, to name just a few.
At the core of this revolution is mindfulness.
Put simply, mindfulness is about finding ways to slow down and pay attention to the present moment—which improves performance and reduces stress. It’s about having the time and space to attend to what’s right in front of us, even though many other forces are trying to keep us stuck in the past or inviting us to fantasize or worry about the future. It’s about a natural quality each of us possesses, and which we can further develop in just a few minutes a day.
I started a daily mindfulness practice a few years ago and immediately began to appreciate its practical benefits in my everyday life. 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. And it’s definitely all natural.
Like many who have tasted the benefits of increased focus, decreased stress, and a quieter mind, I was motivated to share it with my family and friends. Given my work as a United States Congressman, I was also motivated to see its benefits shared on a much larger scale. I recognized its potential to help transform core institutions in America—schools, hospitals, the military, and social services. I felt that this simple practice could help my constituents face the many stressful challenges of daily life. The pain of war. Economic insecurity. The frustrations of being sick or taking care of sick relatives in a broken health-care system. The challenge of teaching children to pay attention and be kind to themselves and others as they swim in a world of distraction and aggression.
I wrote my book A Mindful Nation to promote the values of slowing down, taking care of ourselves, being kind, and helping each other. It seems to me that if we embrace these values individually, it will benefit us collectively. And our country will be a little bit better off as a result.
We don’t need a new set of values. I really believe that we can reinvigorate our traditional, commonly held American values—such as self-reliance, perseverance, pragmatism, and taking care of each other—by adding a little more mindfulness to our lives. The people you will meet in this book have a collective and powerful vision for America. And it’s contagious, because it’s based on a deep concern for the well-being of their fellow men and women. Their research and innovative approaches provide us, not with just hope for a better world, but with an alternative vision that moves us forward—together. The evidence I’ve seen tells me that the approaches described in this book can provide more effective results than many other, more costly programs. If more citizens can reduce stress and increase performance—even if only by a little—they will be healthier and more resilient. They will be better equipped to face the challenges of daily life, and to arrive at creative solutions to the challenges facing our nation.
Excerpted from A Mindful Nation by Congressman Tim Ryan. Copyright © 2012 (Hay House).