Congressman Mark Sanford Opens Up About Meditation Practice, Buddhism

05/10/2013 03:52pm ET
FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2012, file photo, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford leaves a talk on federal fiscal policy at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. Sanford a former two-term governor who was a rising GOP star before he vanished from South Carolina for five days in 2009 says he is considering a campaign for his former seat in Congress. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R), who won his old seat in Congress back in a special election on Tuesday, is one of the latest public figures to open up about following a meditation practice.

The Republican Congressman told Yahoo! News that he began studying meditation three years ago after his term as Governor ended, while spending time at his family's rural farmhouse. He still keeps up the practice today.

"I've tried to be disciplined about a quiet time each day," he said.

Sanford also advocated for the importance of being present, particularly when interacting with voters while on the campaign trail ("You're present with them, you actually can have a real conversation."). Although Sanford says he identifies as a Christian, he subscribes to the Buddhist concept of mindfulness (click over to Yahoo! for more on that).

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.

Sanford isn't the only politician in Congress to speak about the benefits of mindfulness. Congressman Tim Ryan, author of "A Mindful Nation," says that practicing mindfulness meditation has helped him to become less stressed, healthier and more focused. Now, he's fighting to bring mindfulness into inner-city public schools.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch also recently professed to following a mindfulness practice. Murdoch tweeted about giving Transcendental Meditation a try, joining celebrity devotees of the stress-relieving practice, including David Lynch, Candy Crowley and Russell Brand.

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