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TIM RYAN: Leading the "Quiet Caucus"

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio, spoke with Rabbi Rami about his efforts to bring more mindfulness to the U.S. Senate.


Illustration by: Brett Affrunti

How do you understand mindfulness?More and more health practitioners are telling us that mindfulness meditation can create positive brain function and lead to a happier, healthier lifestyle. That’s how I engage with mindfulness. It’s about finding ways to slow down and be in the present moment.How does mindfulness practice fit in with your personal spiritual beliefs?I was raised and remain a Catholic, and there are many elements of my religion where mindfulness is incorporated, although they go by different names. I grew up with contemplative values; my family has always stressed the importance of praying the rosary and taking time out of the day to reflect.How did you come to mindfulness practice?After the push to help Democrats win back control of the House of Representatives, which we succeeded at doing in 2006, I immediately transitioned to do my part to take back the White House in 2008. After we got Barack Obama elected, I was honestly beginning to feel burned out, and I knew something had to give. Two days after the 2008 election, I decided to go on a five-day retreat led by (meditation and mindf …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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