America is suffering from stress overload. We are all anxious, making ourselves sick by focusing on our schedules, our jobs, and the safety of the ones we love. What can we do to alleviate this suffering? Congressman Tim Ryan presents a suggestion in “A Mindful Nation.” A Democratic Congressman from Ohio, Ryan has written two books on topics that interest me; the other one is “The Real Food Revolution.”
The book’s premise is simple: America as a country can thrive by adopting a mindfulness practice, and government at all levels should encourage its citizens to slow down and pay more attention to the moments in their lives.
Can you argue with that concept? Probably not. Does Ryan make a strong case for his argument? Not really.
The book opens with and threads in a few personal stories from the Congressman, about how he often felt physically ill from his mental overload while working in Washington. After he went to an (admittedly expensive and exclusive) silent retreat following a brutal campaign, Ryan was swayed by how refreshed and in touch with himself he felt, and decided to keep up an every day practice.
Because of how the results made him feel personally, Ryan began to think about how mindfulness could impact others–specifically, medical practitioners, teachers & school-aged children, and service members. Ryan dedicates one chapter to each subset of individuals and discusses the same benefits, just modified to take into account the challenges for that particular group.
The book is interesting, but super repetitive. Each chapter encourages the reader to contact their Congressman, school board members, etc. to add their voice to the mix. There’s a nice long resource section at the end for a variety of related topics. Overall, I appreciate his interest in the subject of mindfulness and his dedication to exposing more people to its benefits. I think he could have written a much shorter, tightly constructed book, or even one that shared more scientific research results or even stories from people he knows who have been personally impacted in a similar way as the author.