Former White House ethics chief Walter Shaub alleges that staffers held group meditation sessions to deal with the stress of working for President Trump.
Speaking to CNBC, Shaub, who left his post in July, revealed that there were at least six people who worked for the Office of Government Ethics always in attendance for app meditation sessions.
The 10-minute meditation sessions usually started around 3:10 p.m. and helped workers harness breathing and relaxation techniques while seated quietly in the conference room, underneath dim lights.
The group was constantly aided by the voice of Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, who urged them to relax with inhalation and exhalation techniques as well as imagine liquid sunlight passing through their bodies, all in a bid to help them cope with abrupt meltdowns.
Puddicombe, a former monk speaking to Vox, has always abstained from making comments about the 45th U.S. president. However, he admitted the app’s usage had seen a 44 percent spike since Trump became president.
Walter Shaub, who also worked for the Obama administration, said he thought he was well-prepared for the intensity that always accompanied a new government, but humbly pointed out that the Trump White House was far more than what he and the ethics department could handle.
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“We were prepared for the intensity that happens when a new president takes office. We weren’t prepared for the chaos in the administration. We weren’t prepared for the assault on us… it was just crazy in 2017.”
Shaub recalled the departmental staff “looked really fried” because they could not really do their jobs and were always being mocked by the Trump presidency.
Shaub said he already had the Headspace app on his phone and suggested it to other staffers during a meeting. The former Office of Government Ethics director said it was not compulsory for anyone to attend the sessions, but that the door was always open for anyone who wanted to join in.
The Government Ethics office is meant to help government officials avoid conflicts of interest. Shaub says the Trump White House continually violated the ethics code and has continued to call out for the administration to be kept in check.
According to Business Insider, Shaub said he advised Trump to sell his business interests when he realized he could make money off the presidency, but he refused. He also mentioned that the White House did not discipline Kellyanne Conway when she encouraged people to patronize Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, per a report from the Washington Post.
Shaub, who now works with a government watchdog group called The Campaign Legal Center, said the meditation sessions helped but did not completely eradicate the avalanche of stressful situations emanating from the Trump administration.