The 2012 Presidential election is the most fractious in memory—just another example of the partisan rancor ruling national politics today. (“Washington is broken,” stated Republican senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, a noted moderate, as she announced her decision not to run for a fourth term.) Contributing to the problem, insiders suggest, is that bipartisan socializing—a Washington tradition—has all but ceased, as pols spend their free time drumming up support back in their home districts. But if Congressman Tim Ryan, a five-term Democrat from Ohio, has anything to say about it, cultivating mindfulness not only can help us reconnect with our kindness and compassion individually and collectively but also could trickle up and help Congress reconnect, leading to more cooperation at the top.

Congressman Ryan discovered mindfulness meditation at a retreat lead by Jon Kabat-Zinn and now practices regularly. In his new book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit (Hay House, $19.95 hardcover) (Read a short review in “Books in Brief,” Summer 2012), he identifies people and institutions taking the lead in what he calls “the quiet revolution,” as mindfulness makes inroads in education, healthcare, the military, and business. Upbeat about the positive changes he’s seen firsthand in his cross-country travels, Ryan recently talked to Tricycle via cell phone, as he was being driven from Capitol Hill to his home in Ohio.

—Joan Oliver

Stay Tuned: Congressman Ryan will deliver a talk with Tara Brach at the Tricycle | BuddhaFest Online Film Festival on Tuesday, June 19. Ryan will discuss his new book; Brach will give a dharma teaching.

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