Rep. Tim Ryan is inviting colleagues to swap partisan bickering for a little bit of peace and quiet.
The Ohio Democrat is a meditation devotee — and he has an inkling, if lawmakers give it a shot, the calming practice could find a few more fans in Congress. That’s why Ryan recently started a weekly members-only meditation session.
“You can come in and practice mindfulness, you can practice centering prayer, you can just be quiet, or do whatever you want,” Ryan explains to ITK.
The congressman, who meditates daily both at his Longworth House Office Building digs and at home in Ohio, says it’s about creating “a little space that we can be with each other without the yelling and screaming and drama that we sometimes end up having to deal with.”
So far the 39-year-old lawmaker says there hasn’t been a “super response” yet — only one or two members have stopped by at the handful of sessions Ryan has hosted. He figures when the House schedule gets a little more consistent in the coming weeks, however, more members will join in.
The interest, he says, has been on both sides of the aisle: “I just think it’s because with the level of activity and information and stress that everybody’s under, having a little space and a little quiet time in your day is not an issue.”
When asked how tough it is to balance meditation with his congressional duties, Ryan, a former high school football player, replied, “It’s hard for everybody. We’re all in the same boat. You can be a mom of two kids or a member of Congress. I just encourage everybody to give it a try. There’s something really profound that happens when you have some time with silence.”
According to Ryan, House members aren’t the only one who could benefit from a sense of tranquility. The lawmaker, whose book on meditation, A Mindful Nation, was published last year, is pushing the Department of Education to add social emotional learning (SEL) to the curriculum in schools across the country.
But it’s his co-workers in Congress that might really come to appreciate meditation, he says. “This place needs it. We could use a little bit of space.”