Mindfulness and Politics; Perfect Together 2024

Written By Rich Blonna

April 30, 2024

I’ve been practicing and teaching mindfulness and meditation for the better part of the past 30 years. You’ve probably seen me meditating on Residents Beach every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at sunrise. I bike down to the beach, run three miles, and then meditate for 30 minutes.

A friend recently asked me if I thought either practice help me be a more effective  Marco Island City Councilor during my first term.

Without hesitation I replied; “absolutely, and I’m sure it will help me tremendously in dealing with the responsibilities and stresses of my second term which I hope to earn in the September 2024 election.

Meditation and The City Council

For the past three ane one half years I’ve attended every Marco Island City Council meeting. A big part of meetings, in addition to preparing in advance, is observing what is discussed from both a content and process perspective.

From a content point of view there is a tremendous amount of technical information discussed at every meeting by presenters, my fellow Councilors, and residents. Everything from specifications related to a homeowner’s request for a variance to build a deck along his seawall to the intricacies of measuring PH levels in storm water runoff is discussed. If your mind drifts and you lose your focus it is very easy to get lost.

From a process perspective I’ve spent a lot of time observing how the City Councilors interact with each other, the City Staff, the citizens, and vice versa.

It is interesting to see how people treat each other when they are on camera at City Council meetings.

I’ve noticed how much (or how little) attention people pay to whatever item is being discussed at any point in time.

Lastly, I’ve noticed how emotions influence people’s behavior towards each other during meetings. I’ve even noticed how my emotions get aroused whenever an issue that is dear to me is brought before the City Council.

It is easy for emotions to get the best of people (myself included) and distract them from everything that is being said on the dais. It is tremendously helpful to be able to be able to listen to both what is being said at City Council meetings and how it is being communicated.

How My Practice Has Helped Me

I know that my mindfulness training has helped me stay focused on the intricate details of the discussions that go on during City Council meetings.

It has not only helped me pay attention to the details of the issues being discussed in the present moment, it has also helped me wade through reams of technical background data and studies that I read while preparing for the meetings.

My mindfulness training and meditation practice help me stay calm and focused and give my undivided attention to whatever I am doing, whether it is preparing for or attending City Council meetings, or listening to residents who visit or speak with me on the phone.

Emotional intelligence is the term used to refer to high-level awareness of the presence and effects of emotions on your own behavior and that displayed by others.

In other words, emotionally-intelligent people know when their own emotions have been aroused and have gotten the best of them. They also sense this in others and are able to calmly accept it and not let the person’s emotions interfere with doing what they need to do.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation builds emotional intelligence. My training in these areas has helped me keep my own emotions from interfering with being an effective City Councilor.

Even when one of my fellow Councilors or a citizen said or did something that aroused strong emotions in me, I did not let these feelings get the best of me (at least 90% of the time) and push me into doing or saying something that was not helpful, or derailed the work of the City Council.

One of the reasons I chose “Calm, Thoughtful, Leadership” as a campaign slogan is because practicing mindfulness and meditation has etched those qualities into my personality and I strive to bring them to my work as a City Councilor every day.

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