Friday, July 12, 2013

Politicians Who Meditate

Meditation has been found to both reduce stress and expand awareness, and there are few who could benefits from those effects more than members of the United States Congress. Congressional approval ratings have been low for many years, and over the last two decades harsh polarization between the two major parties has been the norm. Republican gains in 2010 gave their party control of the House of Representatives while Democrats retained control of the Senate, creating a divided congress that has passed little major legislation since that time. Salon has an article up about the so-called "mindfulness caucus," a group of legislators who have taken up meditation.

This year saw gains for bona fide Buddhists, with Mazie Hirono becoming the first to enter the Senate in history, and with fellow Buddhist Hawaiian Colleen Hanabusa in the House. And from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, to health-conscious Bill Clinton, to redeemed Southern Republican lawmaker Mark Sanford, a growing number of politicians and the people they employ are getting turned on to the benefits of meditation, in general.

“If more people meditiated, we probably would have less arguing, less animus, physically, mentally, and legislatively, and we’d probably have a lot more effective legislation because people would be coming from a much more balanced place when they’re doing their jobs as legislators,” said Los Angeles Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas, who has been meditating twice a day for a little over a year (at least when his schedule allows).

Many of those involved are Christian rather than Buddhist, but there's nothing wrong with that. Contemplative Christianity has a long history of meditators inspired by Western rather than Eastern esotericism, and studies have shown that the benefits of meditation accrue regardless of the practitioner's religious foundation. Contemplative practitioners have the advantage that they actually are doing spiritual practice, unlike those who do little more than attend church services.

The mindfulness caucus is small, and unless it grows substantially I doubt it will do much to change the tone in Washington. On the other hand, I'm certainly open to be proven wrong. Lawmakers with more enlightened perspectives certainly can't hurt.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: