Thursday, May 9, 2013

Another meditator heads to Congress

Mark Sanford, who on Tuesday was elected to Congress by South Carolina voters, reveals he turned to meditation after the spectacular implosion of his political career as governor of that state after the revelation of his trip to Argentina in pursuit of a woman while he told his wife and staff that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Interviewed on the campaign trail, the Republican said he retreated to his remote family farm after he left office and began studying meditation, a practice he continues to this day.
Mark Sanford meets with voters at Whole Foods. (Cristina Caraballo)
"A buddy of mine said, 'Mark, you're becoming a Buddhist Christian.' I come from the after Christian faith. That's my faith tradition. But  I do like about Buddhism is the idea of being present," Sanford said. "I think that that's missed in Western culture, where we're so busy looking a week out, two weeks out, a month out, a year out, and we're hurried and we're busy. And I think if there's any one thing I learned from that year I spent on the farm in the wake of getting out of office and just having a very, very quiet year, is the importance of stillness and quietness. And that extends beyond just the physical location. It extends really into the moment of, are you really with that person or are you thinking of the next thing you've got to do? So I do like very much that part of Buddhism. I think it's right."
Sanford declined to describe his meditation techniques, but said, "I've tried to be disciplined about a quiet time each day."
His practice was evident earlier in the interview as he spoke to shoppers individually at campaign stops:
"My view is, bigger the crowd, the fewer the votes," Sanford said. "If you can just keep moving as an individual and you're present — I don't want to sound Buddhist on you—but you're in the moment. You're present with them, you actually can have a real conversation. You can talk about issues that they like, what they don't like, in a way that you can't if you have a crowd."
Maybe he and Rep. Tim Ryan, author of "A Mindful Nation," can start a meditation group on Capitol Hill. Maybe they could move from mindfulness to cultivating compassion.

May it benefit all beings.

Note: Sanford's not the first famous adulterer to find solace in Buddhism.

Photos of Sanford with voters at Whole Foods by Cristina Caraballo, from Yahoo.

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