U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Sanford isn’t a practicing Buddhist, but the Eastern meditation techniques have been a key component of his political comeback.
Sanford discussed his views on Buddhism and meditation during an interview with Yahoo! News the day before his reelection to the U.S. Congress. His remarks obviously didn’t generate much pre-election buzz, but the interview has since been picked up by The Huffington Post and other national outlets.
“A buddy of mine said, ‘Mark, you’re becoming a Buddhist Christian,'” Sanford told reporter Chris Moody. “I come from the Christian faith. That’s my faith tradition. But what I do like about Buddhism is the idea of being present. 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 also told Moody that he tries “to be disciplined about a quiet time each day.”
Not surprisingly, some South Carolinians are less than impressed.
“Buddha?” one Palmetto State resident told us, “he better hope people thought he said ‘Bubba.'”
More to the point Sanford – who desperately needs to be (and be viewed as) a substantive Congressman – probably didn’t want his first big national story out of the gate to be focused on his “quiet time” and love for Siddhartha Gautama.
Nonetheless, Sanford’s brand of “mindfulness” meditation – which is practiced by numerous celebrities and a handful of other politicians – is supposedly linked to all sorts of benefits.
“Research has linked mindfulness meditation — the practice of cultivating a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment — to lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, improving emotional stability and sleep quality, boosting compassion and supporting weight-loss goals, among other health benefits,” reports health writer Carolyn Gregoire of The Huffington Post.
Hmmmm … frankly “being in the moment” has never been Sanford’s problem. Getting out of the moment on the other hand …
In other words we’re glad Sanford has found Eastern “centeredness,” now he needs to focus on gaining a better mastery of Eastern strategery.