Meditation Helped Ethics Staff Handle ‘Tumultuous Storm’ Of Trump Stress

Walter M. Shaub Jr., director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, arrives for a scheduled meeting with the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

While the stress of President Trump’s administration eventually pushed former ethics chief Walter Shaub out the door and into the arms of a partisan watchdog group, before he left, he took some enlightened steps to try to reduce tension in the Office of Government Ethics.

He meditated.

According to a new report from CNBC, Shaub and more than a dozen other ethics staffers would take 10 minutes out of each day to clear the conference room, dim the lights, close their eyes and listen to the smooth, sometimes sardonic voice of British former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe as he led the staff through a series of meditative breaths, using the Headspace app.

The deliberate daily reflection helped Shaub and his staff re-center and eventually became a practice that the regular participants grew to “hunger,” Shaub said.

“It kind of made us strong in weathering a very tumultuous storm at the time,” Shaub said. “Of the ones who came regularly, they loved it, and we all seemed to hunger for it.”

Shaub, who left the office after realizing he had reached the end of his rope dealing with the “chaos” of what he saw as rampant ethics violations within the Trump administration, said his office was not prepared for the “assault” they sustained at the beginning of Trump’s time in office. He said the daily meditation help him and staffers escape for 10 minutes and claimed it was “probably my best memory of 2017, at least in the work world … which was just a very hard year.”

“I’ll probably remember that more than the individual trials and tribulations in that year.”

Read the full CNBC report here.

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