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Meditate on Meditation

Oohhhm, Ooooohhhm, Ooohhhhm. Clear the mind. Breathe from the diaphragm. Relax the shoulders. Feel the warmth from the sun. Ahh, meditation. What would I do without it? I could describe my life up until a couple of years ago and that would give you a pretty good idea.

In the past I admit the idea of meditation brought to mind something mystical and romanticized by Hollywood, an activity Buddhist monks participated in while wearing a turban and sitting in the lotus position with hands resting on knees and chanting. Over the past several years, however, this notion of meditating has lost it’s perceived strangeness and I have begun to fit it into my paradigm and equated it with pondering, praying, or quietly thinking. I have used it for stress reduction or relaxation, a tool used in yoga class, and an extremely useful technique during difficult labor and delivery.

Looking deeper into the subject more recently, however, has drastically changed my perspective even more. Far from an authority on the subject, but eager to continue to see it’s benefits in my life, I write now a few thoughts and experiences about how it has made a monumental difference in my life. My sources of inspiration are various yoga instructors I’ve had, reading Depack Choprah (a global leader in the field of mind-body medicine), searching the scriptures, and experimenting on the word ? for myself. I recognize how I am at the very beginning of understanding the power of meditation, barely scratching the surface, a novice. Often I get discouraged when thinking of how far I would like to progress, but I take solace in the experience of author Philip Gourevitch when he wrote,

People will say, Why are you writing about that? You don’t even know anything about it. You look at something for the first time, and everyone seems to know more than you do. You think, I must be ignorant…but let me have a look. Your authority is your curiosity.

So here I am writing for the first time on the power of meditation.

Meditation is recognized as a component of almost all religions and has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Why for so many thousands of years have so many seen this as a powerful experience? Perhaps it’s one of those things that has to be experienced to be understood.

Meditation can be viewed from many perspectives, but the one that seems the best fit for me personally is the one that is designed with the purpose of creating a direct personal experience with God, to be healed and nourished by God’s spirit, a tool on the path of spiritual growth.

I now borrow from author Phil McLemore who wrote extensively on the subject, and paraphrase some of his teachings.

With a spiritual perspective in mind, McLemore asks us to ask ourselves the following question: “What are the barriers to my spiritual growth?” He suggests that one of the barriers is the problem of conditioning patterns of behavior over our lives that narrow our perceptions and responses. Psychologists have estimated that most people only use 5-10 percent of our free agency, the rest being scripted by past experiences and relationships of our lives.

Conditioning means patterns. Our brains love repetitive patterns. When we learn something, chemically it gets locked in, even at a very young age. As children we probably learned how to get our needs met by undesirable actions: manipulating, tantrums, or cajoling. As adults we haven’t matured very much even though now our actions seem more sophisticated. In truth these patterns are binding and constricting. If we cycle into them we can’t grow spiritually.

Mediation in the system of yoga is about flexibility. Not just physical flexibility, but about not being stuck; being able to expand awareness, have clearer perceptions, and not be restricted by unhealthy patterns, but being able to make choices that are in harmony with God.

What is flexibility? Mental, psychological, spiritual, emotional? Growth and health is manifested in flexibility in all of these areas. Conditioning makes you rigid; you see things a certain way and consequently respond in a certain way. But when you are mentally flexible it propels spiritual growth. Eastern and western thoughts talk about being “asleep” when you are reacting and responding mindlessly, thoughtlessly. You can’t sleep your way to spiritual growth. “O that ye would awake,” pleads prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon, “awake from a deep sleep yea, even from the sleep of hell and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.” (2 Nephi 1:13) What is transforming is when you wake up and come in contact with what is holy.

Psychologists refer often to what is called the body mind complex. Plainly stated the body mind complex is the idea that a person is made up of all the thoughts and beliefs that are rolling around in their head. As a result of this perspective many will defend unhealthy personality traits because that’s who they think they are, rather than admit that positive changes are possible. An opposing perspective to this idea of the body mind complex is the idea that if you can observe it, you are not it. Your essential nature is the power you have to observe. You are not a mind body swirl of motion and thoughts. You are deeper and more profound than that.

When you enter meditation, have can have a direct experience with God. You can have a spirit to spirit connection and have your divine qualities nourished by him. Coming closer to Christ releases your inner qualities, unfold and push back limitations of conditioning. It is a possible path of liberation, freed from perceptions.

So if by now you are interested in meditation and have little or no experience with it, here is a brief overview on how I got started.

The first couple of times I meditated I felt a little silly, especially when Brian would walk in on me. I found myself relaxing for a moment or two, but then I was keenly aware of how much “thinking” was going on. It was mentally exhausting trying to quiet my mind, and physically tiring as well to remain seated with my back straight for more than 15-20 minutes. The more I tried to think of “nothing” the more my thoughts would jump around from subject to subject.

What are thoughts? They are reviews of the past, projections into the future, our memories, our desires. Phil McLemore states:

The spirit is a present moment reality. Have faith that by stilling the mind, becoming in touch with spirit, that it is going to liberate and nourish you.

The goal, then, is to get control of your thinking. When your mind is in pure silence, you are in your essential state. Your mind does not want to be narrowed down, it likes where it is. Get control of your thoughts; find a single point of concentration. For me it took seven or eight nights before I began to see improvement, but it became easier and easier to discipline myself and not get distracted. Don’t get discouraged!

First, plan to meditate in place where you won’t be disturbed. Mornings are suggested, but I have found that I have the quietest and most peaceful moments at night when the kids are in bed. But whenever you can do it is understandable. Come into a comfortable sitting position, hold your neck and back straight. Use a cushion or chair if needed, and sit with your head upright. Start with ten, twelve, or fifteen minutes, but twenty is ideal. Close your eyes. Because it’s a spiritual practice, start with a brief devotional prayer with intent to communicate with God. Breathe diaphragmatically. Inhale, expanding your belly, exhale and feel it recede. Let your shoulders fall down, your shoulder blades like butterfly wings falling down your back. Imagine your spine as a great hollow tube, extending down through your tailbone into the center of the earth, and up out the top of your head and up into the sky. Practice abdominal breathing for a minute to get the rhythm. This is the second step: bring awareness to your breath.

Next you may want to use a mantra. Find a word, phrase, or scripture that is uplifting, and begin the mantra in your mind. It has been suggested that the mantra be two syllables, so you can get it in sync with your breathing, but I have used much longer mantras, even several phrases together. What is important is to release the desire to control it. Let it flow with your breath.

Here are a couple of mantras that I have used. My purpose when creating them was to make sure that the statements were simple, to the point, clear, and unchangeable.

  • I decide to experience my full abundance (or peace, security, warmth, or love of others) no matter what occurs with ease.
  • I decide to feel completely peaceful this moment no matter what occurs
  • I allow myself to accept others (or unconditionally love, or approve of others) and myself no matter what
  • Feelings of happiness come from the ability to love
  • I allow myself to receive Gods approval at all times with ease

However, I personally find more power in holding in mind various scripture phrases, such as:

What will be most effective is a phrase that you come up with, something that rings true to you, whatever brings you peace and clarity. Undoubtedly your thoughts will intrude and you may feel discouraged, but don’t get upset. Gently return to your focus. At first your mind will be drawn away repeatedly. Gently come back each time. After a couple of weeks of practice your mind will calm down and you will be able to have focus. You will be able to observe thoughts, body sensations, emotions. You will begin hearing the mantra more than producing it in your mind. Your point of focus will become more and more subtle. When you feel like you are getting down to just one thought, remember that you are still thinking, and your intention is to get into the state of pure spirit. When you hear the mantra instead of saying it, it becomes more subtle and disappears altogether, and you will find yourself in silence.

If you are asking yourself, “Do I deserve this kind of spiritual experience?” or “Is this really possible?” I say to you Yes! I have noticed my scripture studies richer, a stronger presence of the spirit, spiritual growth and healing, and my prayers are more profound. I recognize my nothingness and that I am less than the dust of the earth. I know that God’s ways are higher than my ways, and that “man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.” (Mosiah 4:9) But I hunger and thirst for a stronger connection to the heavens. In the book of Alma the great missionary Ammon joyously cries:

Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? (Alma 26:16)

I know that as we ponder on the things of the Lord, the eyes of our understanding will be opened.

I finish with the following story written by Orson F. Whitney:

I should like to begin by relating a marvelous vision Joseph Smith the Prophet had concerning the Twelve Apostles in his day, which has profound significance for me. Heber C. Kimball recorded, The following vision was manifested to him [Joseph Smith] as near as I can recollect. He saw the Twelve going forth, and they appeared to be in a far distant land. After some time they unexpectedly met together, apparently in great tribulation, their clothes all ragged, and their knees and feet sore. They formed into a circle, and all stood with their eyes fixed upon the ground. The Savior appeared and stood in their midst and wept over them, and wanted to show Himself to them, but they did not discover Him.” (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2d ed., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, p. 93; see also History of the Church, 2:381.)

A message that can possibly be inferred is that because the Twelve had suffered so much, had endured so greatly, and had so exhausted themselves in leading the battle of righteousness, they were bowed down and did not look up. Had they only looked up they might have beheld the Lord Jesus, who wanted them to see him, weeping over them, suffering with them, and standing in their midst.”

What does a conversation with Jesus look like? Here are some random thoughts I’ve been pondering about various spiritual experiences in the scriptures:

  • In the Joseph Smith History he describes himself as, “entirely overcome…when I came to myself again ?”
  • Paul, talking in the third person, also says, ” ?whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth ?” (2 Corinthians 12:2) How could you not know?
  • Isaiah was shown a vision and he says to himself, I can’t figure this out. He ?s disoriented.
  • Brigham Young saw Joseph Smith in a vision. He said he “felt” his warmth.
  • When Moroni left Joseph, he went up into a conduit into heaven. Was there a gaping hole in the roof of the Smith home?

If God comes to talk to you, and stands behind you, do you need to turn around? It doesn’t matter, there is no front and back. When the Lord wants to communicate to us, the limitations of our body are no longer relevant; he talks to us as if we were a spirit. Wonderful spiritual experiences are available to us. Can meditation bless your life?

{ 43 comments… add one }
  • facethemusic May 30, 2008, 5:14 pm

    Hmmmm… I’ll be honest. I’m not sure I could EVER get rid of the “perceived strangeness” that I feel toward this kind of meditation. Even though you related it to the gospel, the whole “clear your mind of thoughts”, “say a mantra to yourself until you’re focused on one thought” as though THAT is going to bring on a vision or open you up to communication with God STILL sounds “mystical and romanticized by Hollywood, an activity Buddhist monks participated in while wearing a turban and sitting in the lotus position with hands resting on knees and chanting.” The only difference being that you’re Mormon and aren’t wearing a turban. :tooth:

    The notion of finding peace, spirituality or power through this definition of meditation has always sounded “wacky” to me, I guess because I’m not sure what peace or “power” one could find this way, that couldn’t be accomplished through, or is greater than priesthood and/or prayer.

    When I think of “meditation” from a gospel perspective, I think of pondering– really considering something deeply, doing serious reflection about one’s self, really focusing on a specific thought or idea. Sort of like my recent “meditation” on my personal Sabbath worship habits. It’s doing SERIOUS “thinking” and contemplating.

    What you’ve described though, sounds like the exact opposite–trying to CLEAR your mind of ANY thoughts by focusing on a “mantra” and saying specfic words over and over again.
    Like, “I’ll just say ‘I love potatoes’ over and over and over again for 15 or 20 minutes so that I can block out any thoughts of the kids, the laundry, my calling, the bills, etc and just have NO thoughts other than “l love potatoes”, “God is love” or whatever. Then, by “opening” my mind this way I’ll be “open” to some kind of power, peace, enlightenment, or connection to God’s spirit, that I wouldn’t have been open to otherwise.”

    But, if I’ve been focusing on a mantra, whether it’s “I Love Potatoes” or “God is Love'”, then ALL I’m going to be thinking is “I love potatoes” or “God is Love”. How has it “cleared” my thoughts if I have on my mind that ONE sentence or phrase? My mind isn’t cleared– isn’t it thinking “God is Love”? Isn’t it thinking about potatoes? How does THAT give me “power”? How does that give me peace? What power or peace does it give me that I can’t get just by actually TALKING to the SOURCE of power and peace through prayer? Or MEDITATING (read: pondering, reflecting, doing productive thinking, as opposed to trying NOT to think) about a gospel principle or point of doctrine?

    Not trying to be a snot or sarcastic– seriously asking, because this is something I’ve NEVER understood. Honestly, I’ve always thought of it as what I call “Oprah spiritualism”. You know– “find your inner child”, “transcend the mortal realm and experience Authentic Power with Gary Zukov”. “Read The Secret and find out how you can control the world around you with your thoughts” kind of stuff. It’s humanism, Hinduism and other Eastern philosophy blended into it’s own religion– but it’s religion WITHOUT God, without the Savior. It’s just a “force” that’s out there and we find out that the source is actually our own souls when we finally “get in touch” with it.

    Anything that Deepak Chopra or Zukov say is always “you have the power within you” kind of stuff– absent from God. Chopra actually has a book called “How To Know God” but the whole thing is essentially, “there IS no God– you can CALL it God if you want to, but that’s just your human nature trying to make the power of the universe something you can relate to by calling it Father or Mother and assuming it’s a “HE” or “SHE” with a body, parts and passions. But really, it’s YOU”
    It’s like Obama saying “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!!”

    You brought up visions of the prophets, but nowhere in scripture does it ever say that they were repeating a mantra to themselves, trying to clear their minds of thoughts when suddenly an angel appeared or they had a vision. Joseph went to the grove to PRAY. He’d already done some serious pondering and meditating (read: real reflection, contemplating and thinking- not trying to RID himself of thoughts) then he went to the garden to pray, and THAT’S when he saw God.

    Nephi had a desire to see the vision his father had, he said
    “For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot. “
    Then he saw and spoke with the spirit of the Lord and was shown the vision.

    Anyway– sorry for the novel. Like I said, this is something I’ve NEVER understood. With all my understanding of the gospel, this kind of stuff has NEVER seemed to fit in to me.

  • davidson May 31, 2008, 8:19 am

    Rachel, we love you and respect you, but I had the same uneasy feelings, and I didn’t know how to express them. Face said it. I have to admit this is a sore subject with me. My little daughter, who used to bear her testimony in Sacrament meeting, who was a seminary graduate, currently practices Buddhism. Her apartment is filled with statues of Buddha. She’s not certain she believes in God. There was a slow slipping. She gradually substituted other ideas for the truths she had, until the gospel truths seemed foreign to her. I wish I could go back along that path and figure out where she started to slip, what ideas and thought patterns numbed her to spiritual truths. Warning flags went up in my head when I read what you wrote, and only because I care about what happens to you.

  • jmocurtis May 31, 2008, 11:43 am

    Allison, I’m sorry, I used to love reading all the diverse articles that your website offered but after seeing your tight knit community of readers and writers i’ve determined that I no longer want to be a part of this community. These are the types of mormons who would look with disgust if someone were to walk into their church smelling of smoke or alcohol. This closed mindedness upsets me. What I got out of this article is that she has had personal experiences that shouldn’t be ignored or denied. She’s valid in feeling the way she does and this has enhanced her relationship with God and has made her a better church member. The “Church” isn’t true. The gosple is true! Your readers and commenters are the reason that people like me turn inactive. I was looking for others testimonies to help strengthen my own but I have only found people with very closed minds who don’t accept eachother or uplift eachother. I cannot belong to something that closes off opportunities to enhance their prayer experience and grow closer to God. Isn’t that what we are all striving for? Meditation is part of cultures around the world and within that culture are LDS members who meditate. Would you judge them too? Would you attempt to take away their church membership or question their true beliefes? DAVIDSON!!! Do you judge your daughter for being a Buddist?, or will you learn acceptance and love for all? I’m just sad and concerned for all your salvation. I’m sure greatful that you guys aren’t the one to judge me in the last days. I think that these commenters just like to argue for arguments sake, what value does this website really have to offer someone like me who is looking to strengthen her testimony? I’m sad that you’ve named your website Mormon Momma because I don’t want to be associated with Mormon’s of this kind. I’m struggeling with life and my stand in the world and this is just a flat out discouragement. Sorry Allison but this is a total failure in my opinion and I won’t be visiting again

  • Ray May 31, 2008, 2:03 pm

    “meditation” and “prayer” both can be powerful forces for good; they both can be terrible forces for evil. It all depends on the person and the way that person practices each – or any other way to term “communing with the divine”.

    I don’t have time to comment at length, but I will try to do so later. Suffice it to say what I just said.

  • Ray May 31, 2008, 2:05 pm

    Also, jmocurtis and Brian, as gently as I can say this, there is no difference in the tone of your comments and what you perceive to be the tone of the comments you criticize. Kettles, pots, motes and beams certainly are interesting things.

  • Naismith May 31, 2008, 5:06 pm

    I can understand how meditation might enhance spirituality. I don’t understand how most folks make time for it. We’re all so busy.

    One reason I bicycle to work and errands is so that I can have time that is less demanding to make the transition between worlds and allow my subconscious to work.

    But to have the time to meditate like that? Maybe when the last child leaves home.

  • facethemusic May 31, 2008, 6:25 pm

    These are the types of mormons who would look with disgust if someone were to walk into their church smelling of smoke or alcohol.

    jmocurtis— Wow…you’re reading an awful lot into the comments made. If you’ve been a part of our “community” for very long at all, then you should have read my MANY comments over the past several years about the nature of my inner city ward that has MANY people who STILL smoke, are STILL alcoholics, and even have HIV. I’ve given them rides to church MANY times and have had them over for dinner, FHE and holidays. I’ve visited a member of the ward who’s in jail for child pornography. My own FATHER (who died in 2001 from liver disease caused by his alcoholism) came to church smelling like smoke. You want to tell me again how I would look with disgust if someone came into the church smelling like smoke or alcochol?

    One brother who’s battling alcoholism CAME to church Sunday with slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. I only know that because when I asked him how he was doing, he could barely answer me and said “Well, not so good today. As you can probably see.” I said, “Well _____, at least you’re where you’re supposed to be.” Then I asked him what else he needed for his new apartment since his old one burned down a week and a half ago. He told me what he still needed and just this morning, I went and bought him a set of pots and pans and some bath towels, which are sitting right by my front door at this very minute, so I can I can give them to him at church tomorrow. So I don’t know why you think I’m some sort of intolerant, closed minded hate monger, just because I don’t understand the relationship between a certain form of meditation and the gospel. I mean honestly, who between the two of us is being the most “closed-minded”?

    What I got out of this article is that she has had personal experiences that shouldn’t be ignored or denied. She’s valid in feeling the way she does and this has enhanced her relationship with God and has made her a better church member.

    Who said she (or anyone) should ignore them?? Who said her feelings weren’t “valid”?? Who denied her personal experiences? I didn’t say they didn’t happen. I said I don’t UNDERSTAND the DESIRE to do this type of meditation, or the NEED to do it to connect with God if you can just pray. I was ASKING her to explain it so I could understand better, because I didn’t understand, and I was explaining the REASONS for MY confusion and lack of understanding for the whole thing.

    I was looking for others testimonies to help strengthen my own but I have only found people with very closed minds who don’t accept eachother or uplift eachother.

    That just ridiculous. This site is FILLED with post after post and article after article that strengthen testimonies and uplift each other. We’re all friends here. We joke and laugh and share testimonies and encourage each other on a continual basis. Just because someone disagrees with something every now and then, or expresses a different opinion doesn’t mean that anyone is closed minded and doesn’t “accept” each other. Rachel has made other posts that I’ve completely AGREED with and where I felt the EXACT SAME WAY she does. This is ONE topic. It just happened to be a topic that I just “don’t get” and I was explaining WHY I don’t get it. You’re REALLY putting ALOT MORE into the comments made, than when was actually said.

    Brian, you’re obviously coming to your wife’s defense. (Or daughter’s or sister’s, defense.) Which is admirable. But I fail to see why she needs defending. I wasn’t attacking her and I’m honestly flabbergasted that my comments were taken so hostily when they weren’t meant AT ALL the way they’ve been taken.

    I also strongly believe that we should not impose our own personal boundaries and limits to others.

    Who’s imposing their personal boundaries and limits on others?? You’re doing the same thing jmocurtis did. I never said your WIFE couldn’t do meditation. I never said she SHOULDN’T do it, either. I wasn’t trying to “limit” her. I was talking about ME and my “not getting” where she saw a connection between the type of meditation she was describing and what I understood “meditation” to be from what I understand about the gospel. I didn’t say she was wrong. I said from what I understand with the gospel, I didn’t see where this fit in. I didn’t even say it DIDN’T fit in. I said I didn’t SEE where if fit it and I asked her several questions to help me understand HOW SHE sees it.

    Your flippant comparison of Rachel’s experience to saying “I love potatoes” was completely absurd and condescending. It reveals a pious ignorance which is offensive.

    I wasn’t trying to be flippant. I was trying to make a point while being funny. I’m truly sorry if it came across as condescending. I was trying to express that it seemed to me, that no matter WHAT few words you say over and over and over again–whether it’s something profound or something silly, that I didn’t understand how THAT suddenly opens up the heavens.
    One of the scriptures she mentioned “Be still and know that I am God” happens to be one of all time favorite scriptures. I just didn’t see how saying it over and over and over again would suddenly open up the heavens, even though you’re quoting scripture. I didn’t understand how saying something profound or “religious” over and over would have any more power to open up the heavens than saying something silly like “I love potatoes”, since what opens the communication between heaven and earth is prayer, priesthood and the Holy Ghost. I honestly wasn’t being condescending. I was trying to explain my conflict with the idea, and express it in a funny way. I think maybe she and you were just offended that I didn’t “get” the whole thing and even somewhat disagreed, and as soon as you read my first few sentences and realized that, you then read the rest of my comments being automatically oversensitive to ANYTHING I said and assumed ill intent that wasn’t there.
    But I DO apologize to her and you– I promise I didn’t mean it in the condenscending way you interpreted it.

    And what if she was wearing a turban while meditating. You would already think she was lost and her chance at salvation slim. Turbans, or mitres, are found in the bible, and thus Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, not to mention Hinduism and Buddhism as you indicated. They are just symbols or tools.

    See? This proves I was right. You’re being WAY oversensitive. Why would I care what she’s wearing? She can wear a turban Sunday through Saturday and I wouldn’t care. I never said there was anything wrong with ANYONE wearing a turban. And I didn’t say anything even REMOTELY CLOSE to someone “losing their salvation” over mediation, over turbans, or ANYTHING. What in the world are you talking about????
    SHE’S the one who said that SHE used to think that meditation was somthing for Bhuddist monks wearing a turban and that she viewed it with a “perceived strangeness”. Did you give her the same lecture about Bibical clothing and what we wear in the temple???
    All I said, was that I STILL have the “perceived strangeness” she herself said she used to have, but that when I picture HER meditating– she’s a Mormon not wearing a turban. I happen to be the very PROUD owner of Saris– I LOVE Muslim clothing (not the Burka’s– totally differnet thing) When I have a more formal event to go I wear a Sari, complete with the scarf around my head. And if you check out my picture— and note that my hair is now 3/4 of the way down my back, you can see why when I’m wearing a sari, people might think I’d just gotten off the boat from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq or India. I’m probably one of the only American Mormons with no ties to Islam, walking around wearing saris– do you REALLY think I care if people wear turbans or mitres? My comment about Rachel being a Mormon and not wearing a turban was not a “cut down” to her or anyone who wears turbans, Mormon or not. You’re taking all of this WAY to personally and I’m terribly sorry that I was SO misunderstood. I honestly didn’t mean any of what I said the way you think I did. I must be a far worse communicator than I thought I was.

    Do we have a monopoly on truth and “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy?”

    No, we don’t. And I never said we did. I didn’t say that EVERYTHING that Chopra of Zukov teach is wrong. I never said that you can’t pick out truths here and there from their teachings, from other religions or anything of the sort.

    You CLEARLY took offense to almost everything I said, and I think it’s fair to assume that Rachel must have also, since you posted here in her defense. I’m guessing she must have been really upset by my comments and went to you, told you all about it, had you read it, and then you posted your response, full of feelings of defense for your wife and her post, and anger toward me for having upset her and what you both interpreted as nasty closed-mindedness and even “condescending”, “offensive” and “pious ignorance”.

    If you go back and REREAD my comments, not with the emotion of defending your wife, but HONESTLY read them for what they are, without assuming any ill intent of anykind, I think you’ll notice that I NEVER made any comments about HER. I NEVER said any of her ideas were ridiculous or stupid or UN-LDS. I DID say that the type of meditation she was talking about always sounded “wacky” to me. But remember, it was YOUR WIFE who said that even SHE thought of it with a “perceived strangeness” and pictured the “Bhuddist monk wearing a turban and sitting in the lotus position with hands resting on knees and chanting.” And all I was saying was that I STILL see it that way.

    So Brian, did you think of your wife as being “closed-minded”,”condenscending” and “piously ignorant” BEFORE she started doing meditation? When she saw it with a “perceived strangeness” and thought it was Bhuddist monks wearing turbans, who did it? If someone who practiced that sort of meditation heard her say how she USED to think of it before she started doing it herself, should they have been “offended”?
    Should they have told her she was “closed-minded” and “piously ignorant”?

    I just seems odd to me that she can admit she had the same feelings that I have now, but I’m bad for feeling that way and she wasn’t.

    And as for this:

    but just as Tracy (facethemusic) should not dismiss truth found outside Utah ?s traditional cultural Mormonism

    I’m from New York. Out of my almost 40 years, only 2 of them were in Utah and one of the reasons we didn’t want to STAY in Utah was precisely because we WANTED to be outside of Utah’s traditional cultural Mormonism.

    (Tracy thinks to herself, “What’s with all the assumption going on today????“)

    Either way– I AM sorry that my post caused hurt feelings. I know you probably don’t believe me, but I REALLY DIDN’T mean any of the things I said the way you both (and jmocurtis) took them. Rachel has made some wonderful posts to the group that I’ve enjoyed and fully agreed with. In no way did this one make me think any less of her. I honestly hope she continues with us. I simply was expressing the gap between HER idea of what meditation is and what it does, and MY idea of what meditation is and what it does, and I was HOPING she would answer my questions to fill in the gap. Her thoughts seemed contradictory to what I’VE always thought meditation was and how it fits in the gospel. I didn’t say MY thoughts were right. I didn’t say HER thoughts were wrong. What did I say? I said I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND, and I ASKED her specific questions so she could explain how she thought it DID fit with the gospel. That’s ALL. Anything else that you THINK I was saying is completely from your own misinterpretation and I honestly regret that my post was so misunderstood.

  • Kathy May 31, 2008, 10:41 pm

    Great article Rachel! I’m very excited to check out your resources.

    Tracy, my interpretation of meditation is that it’s basically a pre-step to prayer. Have you ever tried to have a serious discussion with your husband but there’s noise in the background and kids trying to talk to you at the same time? Compare that with having your husband all to your self and it’s nice and quiet – sooo much easier to focus. Or have you ever had your mind wander in the middle of prayers? I think meditation is a method of clearing your mind so that you can better focus on your prayers. The mantra is just a way to focus on one thing, an exercise in staying focused, in clearing your mind. Once your focused, you no longer use the mantra and it’s then that you can focus more clearly on your prayers without your mind wandering and that is what brings on greater spirituality, having greater communication with Heavenly Father. Just like with my husband, I have much better conversations when there are no distractions! Of course you don’t have to meditate but it’s extremely helpful for people like me who’s mind tends to wander.

    Rachel, this is just my simplistic understanding and it probably differs from yours but I would love to read more of your thoughts on this. Reread Tracy’s post and I think you’ll find that she really was looking for more explanation. This is a great topic and I would love for it to continue. I had a seminary teacher that would have us meditate for 5 or 10 minutes before every class and that was the most spiritual part of the day! We didn’t use mantras or the breathing but those are just tools to help you be more focused and relaxed, right?

  • davidson May 31, 2008, 11:57 pm

    I hardly know what to say. You’re right, I don’t know you, Rachel. I don’t know you either, Brian. I don’t know you, either, jmocurtis. I don’t know the three of you, mainly because you rarely speak up. I don’t dislike you; I do welcome people who come here! With open arms, in fact! I am delighted when new people join us at Mormon Momma, and I always try to make a point to welcome them when they post the first time. Other people do, too. It is sincere. I have been to LDS websites where no one was welcomed or even acknowledged in the conversations, and that made me feel like a stranger at the wrong party. I wanted to make certain that no one ever felt that way here, if I could help it. That welcome does not include a guarantee that I will agree with everything you say, however. We discuss differences of opinion regularly, and I greatly respect the people who differ with me. Their thoughtful words give me much to consider and pray about, and it has increased my testimony on every gospel subject we’ve discussed. For the most part, we try to be respectful of our differences, and if you’re seeing something else, I apologize. I also submit that you will find what you are looking for. I would hate to be the reason that someone left the Church, but I also think the words of a stranger are not the entire cause of that; if you are honest with yourself, you will admit that there were other things going on long before we chatted. As always, you are invited to stay. In fact, you are invited to be on the welcoming committee, along with everyone else here.

    If I am bad for being concerned about Rachel, I apologize. It is real concern. My little daughter used her exploration of yoga and meditation and the principles of another religion to LOSE her testimony and her relationship with God, not to strengthen it. I hope you can understand my being wary. My husband and I have a very close relationship with her. She is the daughter who comes home, plops down on the couch, and snuggles into my arms. She regularly tells me how much she loves me, and she makes a real point to come to support us on our important days, as we do for her. The notes she writes to me are filled with gratitude for the parents who raised her, and I am grateful for that. We can agree on everything but religion. I have absolutely no intention of studying Buddhism, looking for beliefs we can have in common. I view Buddhism as one of the tools that took my daughter away, admittedly at her own behest. I’m not ready for that. (If a drunk driver killed your daughter, I doubt you’d want to spend an evening in a bar the next weekend; the wound would still be too raw.) I’m not saying there is no good in the Buddhist religion; I am saying that it was the catalyst for a change that wounded me deeply and still concerns me greatly–and now is not the time. I think “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me” is pretty good advice, and I intend to stay with it.

    Just for the record, jmocurtis, my neighbor across the street is a smoker. She has a brain-tumor and a lung disease called COPD, one or both of which will eventually kill her. She is raising her granddaughter, because the mother refuses to take the responsibility. The little girl is an only child. I tend that little girl for part of every day for free, so her grandmother can get some much-needed rest. This woman is my age. They aren’t LDS, and they don’t live in our ward boundaries, but I arranged for the bishop of that ward to come to her home and help with rent and food. I visit in her home regularly. I give her food and try to help in other ways. She is so concerned that I will go home smelling like smoke. I hug her and tell her that is no concern of mine. Clothes do wash. We invited her to church, and she came, but I can tell she really doesn’t want to accept the LDS religion. She prays faithfully, though, and I love the sincerity of her heart. I will continue to love her and help her even if she never joins the church. I have zillions of relatives who are not LDS and who smoke, and I love them all. I associate with them all. I am not offended by your ignorant assumption that I would hate smokers, and by ignorant, I mean uninformed. You don’t know me. You couldn’t possibly know how I feel about smokers, and that is the only reason I tell you, so you will know that the people here are not who or what you think they are. Some of my closest neighbors and friends don’t know what I do for my non-LDS “smoker” friend, and my feeling is that they don’t need to know. I don’t do it to be seen of men. I do it because I love that lady and I feel sad that she has so many difficulties. But I would never want you to walk away from us having reason to believe that we have more intolerance for differences than we actually do, since I don’t want you to have reason to believe that Church members are less than they are. Be fair.

  • facethemusic June 1, 2008, 1:26 am

    First, thank you Kathy for not reading anything into my post that wasn’t there. You got it spot on.

    Have you ever tried to have a serious discussion with your husband but there’s noise in the background and kids trying to talk to you at the same time? Compare that with having your husband all to your self and it’s nice and quiet – sooo much easier to focus.

    Aboslutely– of course. It happens VERY frequently!
    Same thing with the mind wandering during prayer–not uncommon. Especially if I’m really tired. I totally understand the idea of trying to focus your thoughts, keep your mind from wondering etc.
    I DO understand your explanation of USING the meditation as way to focus your thoughts as a “pre-step” to prayer.
    But here’s where the “disconnect” happens for me;

    If I’m really needing some communication from heaven about… oh I don’t know…well, let’s go back to the discussion about keeping the Sabbath day holy. Let’s say I’m really wanting to know whether or not I should let my kids go to a birthday party on Sunday and I feel stuck because on the one hand I don’t want them to get the idea that “partying” on the Sabbath is something I approve of, but these are good friends and I don’t want to offend them, etc, etc then why would I need to sit in a specific position, breath a certain way, and say a “mantra” no matter WHAT the mantra is, to help me focus on what I’m praying for?

    Why wouldn’t I just FOCUS on what I’m praying about or looking for? Why would I repeat a “mantra”, which is something OTHER than what I want to focus on? Do you see what I mean?
    Why would I say ANYTHING, “God is Love”, “Be Still and know that I am God”, “you can control your thoughts” or whatever, in order to focus on something DIFFERENT than what I’m repeating over and over?

    Even if I had a million other thoughts running through my mind– the bills, my air conditioning problem, my lesson tomorrow, the housework I’m behind on, etc, etc, and there’s alot of commotion in the house, (referring to your example of trying to have a conversation with my husband and there’s a bunch of noise) why wouldn’t I just WAIT until all the commotion is gone and the kids are in bed, etc, and try to focus on the issue at HAND, “I want to keep the Sabbath day holy”, instead of repeating a mantra over and over and over again to clear my thoughts? Why would I say something over and over and over again for 15 minutes (ex. “I decide to experience my full abundance“) which is DIFFERENT than what I WANT to think about, (I want to keep the sabbath day holy) in order to clear my thoughts, (the bills, the car, the kids) so I can finally think about what I want to think about? ( I want to keep the sabbath day holy)? How does that help me focus? Why don’t I just think “I want to keep the Sabbath day holy?”

    Why wouldn’t I just get on my knees in prayer (a pretty well tested position for communicating with God) and focus my thoughts on what I’m looking for instead of sitting on a pillow and relaxing my shoulders, and breathing a certain way while reciting a mantra? And I don’t mean that snottily the way it’s sure to be interpreted. I’m not suggesting that being on one’s knees is the ONLY way to communicate with God. I understand COMPLETELY that you can pray “at all times and in all things and in all places”– sitting up, laying down, or hanging upside down.

    But if I’m PURPOSELY, INTENTLY secluding myself in my room or in some other quiet, secluded place for the purpose of communicating with God and opening myself up to communication from Him, why wouldn’t I just get on my knees? I’m NOT in a room with a million other people and too much commotion (again referring to your comment about trying to talk to my husband). Rachel SAID to go to a place where you won’t be disturbed, she suggested WAITING until the kids are in bed. She’s not talking about meditating in the middle of a game at Cougar stadium, right? So if I’m IN MY ROOM (or where ever) and I want to communicate with God, why wouldn’t I just get on my knees in prayer?

    Let me interject here, that my mother taught Lamaze classes in our home while I was growing up. Every Tuesday night (or whatever) there were women strewn out in our livingroom, with their heads rested against their husbands chests, breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth. They listened to relaxation music. They pictured a restful place in their minds– the beach, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, etc. She’d tell them to tighten all the muscles in their bodies, then she tell them to relax. Then she’d tell them to relax their feet MORE, and more, let them feel heavy on the floor. She did that with arms, shoulders, buttocks, etc– trying to help them FEEL what it’s like to REALLY be loose and relaxed, to feel the difference between tensed muscles and relaxed muscles because even when they THOUGHT they were relaxing their muscles, they were still slightly tensed. When I was pregnant myself I already knew what to do– even still, my mother came over and “coached” us for breathing and relaxation— more so to coach my husband on how to help me.

    So I’m VERY familiar with relaxation– with the idea of slowing down the mind, getting unwanted, cluttered thoughts out of the mind and focusing them. And I understand that different people relax and “declutter” in different ways. A quiet soak in the tub, listening to soft, flowing music– I was just telling Jennycherie the other night that I used to LOVE to just lay in the grass, close my eyes and concentrate on the sound of the birds, or the wind blowing, or open my eyes and watch the clouds.

    But meditation in the form that this post was speaking of seems to go into different territory.
    Especially once the scriptures got brought into it with Joseph Smith talking about being overcome and saying “when I came to myself again ? ? and Paul saying “whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell”, and Isaiah having a vision and being disoriented afterwards. Then Rachel said

    “If God comes to talk to you, and stands behind you, do you need to turn around? It doesn ?t matter, there is no front and back. When the Lord wants to communicate to us, the limitations of our body are no longer relevant”

    But when God appeared to Joseph he was looking UP. He said “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head….which descended gradually….I saw two personages…standing ABOVE me in the air” Evidently, there IS a front and back. (or an above, below etc) I don’t know if it was her intent or not, but it seems like she’s suggesting that Joseph was having a metaphysical outer-body experience. Was he transfigured? I don’t know. I wouldn’t doubt it. If other’s had to be transfigured to see God, then it would make sense. He said when he “came to himself” he found himself “lying on the ground”. But I think there’s a big difference between a Shirley McClaine-like outer-body experience through meditation and God transfiguring you. I don’t know HOW He does that. We don’t know if it’s the spirit “leaving” the body. In fact, I actually doubt that it is. (Wouldn’t Satan just LOVE for us to leave our bodies so he or his minions could possess them?) But I admit that I don’t fully understand the doctrine of transfiguration, so I certainly can’t say for sure.

    Brian, Rachel: I understand that maybe all that wasn’t meant the way it sounded. But when you talk about mantras and meditation and getting to a place of “pure spirit’ to connect with God, and tie in prophets having spiritual experiences where they say “whether in the body or out of the body I couldn’t tell” and then you say “the limitations of our body are no longer relevant.. Wonderful spiritual experiences are available to us” … do you see how it SOUNDS like suggesting we can have an outer-body experience by practicing meditation?

    I think THAT’s why Davidson compared all this to her experience to her daughter.

  • naomlette June 1, 2008, 11:13 am

    This is not a specific response to anyone in particular, just so ya’ll know that ahead of time. :bigsmile:

    I love the idea of meditation. I would love to learn how to meditate. I also want to learn yoga, but only because I want to be more flexible.
    To me, meditation is a way to get in touch with those parts of yourself that you routinely push away to “deal with” later. I would not personally use it as a stepping-stone to being able to pray more clearly, though I can see how it could be used that way. I strongly believe that there are “engergys” or “forces” that our spirits and bodies have that Eastern religions take into account that Western religions do not. I think the perfect religion would be a mix between the two. But that’s a whole other conversation.
    As for prayer, I agree with FTM. If your going to pray, pray. But if meditating first helps you focus on your prayers better, by all means, do it! When I finally have time to learn to meditate, I plan on using it to relax and release the stresses that make me tense, clean out my mind for a few minutes so that when I pick those stresses back up again, I have a little more mental strength to do it with than I had before. I want to use meditation to do this because all the other ways I have tried to do this have failed miserably for me. I just can not stop focusing on those annoying little stressors. And if I have some neat-o revelation, whether spiritual or not, while meditating, great! But there are different ways to meditate. You don’t have to sit in the lotus position with you hands on your knees repeating a mantra. You can take a walk in a quiet park, or sit in your backyard and look at the clouds, or take a bath. The point behind all of these things, IMHO, is to clear your mind, rest, and relax.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 1, 2008, 7:56 pm

    Wow, I leave you kids alone for a few days and just look what happens? First there is (horrors!) disagreement and then the entire blog is condemned as a “total failure.” Wow, who knew?

    I just have a few things to say and then, being completely inexperienced and mostly uninterested in meditation, I’ll let you duke it out. (Like Naismith, if I had 20 minutes to myself, I’d probably find something else to do with it. Using the bathroom ALONE comes to mind…)

    (1) I saw nothing fundamentally problematic with Rachel’s post or descriptions about meditation, with the possible exception of relying on experts that MAY not align very well with the gospel. I say “may” because I don’t know. I have always thought of Chopra as a bit new-agey, but they sell his stuff in the BYU Bookstore, too. And I often find Sunstone on the edge of faithfulness, but haven’t read the particular articles referenced.

    (2) I think it’s safe to say that “this” kind of meditation is not what our leaders are referring to when they talk about meditation. Or it’s at least safe to say that they have never, ever specified this kind of thing as being done by them or as a way to enlightenment. It seemed to me that Rachel was well aware of it due to the disclaimerish statements at the beginning. My reading was that she knew this wasn’t the usual Mormon stuff but that perhaps LDS could also benefit from it. If her intent was as I read it, I tend to agree. (I think it might, for example, help me sleep, because I could learn to control my rapid-fire crazy brain.)

    (3) This is a blog. It’s not a mutual adoration society. I think it’s pretty fundamental of blogs that when you write something some will agree and some won’t. I can’t recall any posts that *I* have written–on my OWN blog–that dealt with anything remotely substantive that haven’t been challenged on at least a few points. I don’t pull the posts that challenge, I just respond. It’s an open discourse. And I can’t think of a regular poster that I haven’t disagreed with on some point or another. As a blog writer, I think you need to be up for the fact that people have differing opinions and they are free to express them.

    (4) Rachel wrote a great post. Tracy and davidson had some discomfort with it and said so, explaining their positions. The problem I have with the responses of Brian and jmocurtis are that rather than discuss the issues or present a countering perspective, they are mostly ad hominem. Ad hominem isn’t more open-minded, it’s just fallacious debate. If you disagree with them–as I do to some extent–present your position. Drop the name-calling.

  • nanacarol June 1, 2008, 9:45 pm

    You rock Allison. I love a person who speaks her mind. Isn’t it good to disagree. That way we question and learn from those things that bother us! It also teaches us to have open minds where needed. Keep up these discussions folks. We need them to make us well rounded individuals!

  • klgreen1 June 2, 2008, 12:42 am

    Loved the article. I thought the author got beat up a bit in the discussion. I think neuroscience is fascinating, and to me, meditation is more a matter of what Norman Doide, MD calls “neuroplasticity:” our ability to change our brains. I think all positive change might also be called “eternal progression,” and I’m very interested in reliable first-hand accounts from Mormonmomma readers. Rachel’s was especially intriguing to me.

    But I don’t think we need to defend our secular choices by searching for scriptural support. There are much more important reasons to understand scripture. I like to sew and knit, and I was an avid swimmer as a kid. Alison’s into karate in addition to her obvious gifts for computer science and music. Tracey is a country crooner. To throw in a musical metaphor from the early 70’s, they are all ladies of the canyon. There’s nothing to defend.

    Applying the “legal, moral and ethical” test, where legal means not against the law, moral means not against your religion and ethical means not against the golden rule, I think meditation passes all three. I don’t expect any of y’all to take up knitting, and I don’t know that Alison has an agenda to get any of us into a karate program. Tracey SURE doesn’t want me to cut a duet with her. I might not hop aboard the meditation train, but I think it’s an interesting practice and I thought Rachel’s article was engaging and well-written.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 2, 2008, 12:59 am

    Well said, Kathy!

  • facethemusic June 2, 2008, 6:07 am

    Wow, I leave you kids alone for a few days and just look what happens?

    Well, you know, Alison…. a RESPONSIBLE parent hires a babysitter. She doesn’t leave her kids unattended. So I hope you realize that the fault lies squarely on your shoulders.
    Somebody call CPS. :tooth:

  • Alison Moore Smith June 2, 2008, 10:09 am

    Where’s my passport…

  • davidson June 2, 2008, 1:08 pm

    What happens at Mormon Momma while Alison is gone STAYS at Mormon Momma. :shocked: 😉

  • nanacarol June 2, 2008, 1:20 pm

    Sorry Mom-ya want me to bake you some chocolate chip cookies to make up for our blunders?

  • davidson June 2, 2008, 2:12 pm

    Gosh, Alison, you thought you were giving birth to a mere website, and look at the monster you’ve created! Not only are we a Mutual Adoration Society (horrors!), we’re a business consulting firm, a pharmacy, a Sunday School class, a humor fest, a politcal rally, a birthday club, an emotional triage center, a police station, a child-rearing resource, an education counseling center, a doctor’s office, an herbal remedy shop, a church-calling seminar, a book store, a concert, a photo album, an Ego Salon (where you come to get your pride trimmed), an exercise program, a TV Guide, a laundromat, a psychiatrist’s office, and occasionally a landfill. Probably other good and bad things, too.

    Just goes to show that when you give birth to kids, you never know what they’ll become! :bigsmile:

  • jendoop June 14, 2008, 7:22 pm

    I’m totally resurrecting a dead thread but I wanted to try and support both sides..? Recently I’ve been ill and have started yoga, something I’ve always wanted to try now I have a good reason. It has been a wonderful experience and I would encourage anyone to look for the Total Body Workout on BYU TV, they have great sessions of yoga and no commercial interruption.

    There are two things I understood from Rachel’s post.

    First, trying to create an awareness in ourselves takes effort. The analogy I can think of is with yoga. When you are stretching, even just trying to touch your toes there is an instinct to tense up, to resist the pulling. But if you take a deep breath and give in to the possibility it might strain a little and you’ll still live you can find a deeper stretch, a better experience. This is what meditation immediately after yoga does for me mentally. It is a quiet time that I can focus my thoughts, I don’t have a mantra but I think in a focused way, focus on a scripture I recently read, or why I had a difficult discussion with my DH. It is quiet, it is healing, it is mind opening. I’m not distracted by commercials, or billboards, or children complaining. It is quiet and I am in control of my thoughts.

    Out of the best books, or so we say. I think Rachel is trying to find the best books. She gleans the good from books she reads even though the author’s accumulated works may not be ‘the best’, she can take from it those things that are beneficial. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Remember even President Hinckley said,

    “I heard President David O. McKay say to the members of the Twelve on one occasion, Brethren, we do not spend enough time meditating. ?

    I believe that with all my heart. Our lives become extremely busy. We run from one thing to another. We wear ourselves out in thoughtless pursuit of goals which are highly ephemeral. We are entitled to spend some time with ourselves in introspection, in development.”

    Those of you who refuse to find quiet time in your life for thoughtful meditation are missing the glory of this life as you run faster than you have strength.

  • kiar June 15, 2008, 8:35 pm

    good point!!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 9:34 pm

    Posted By: jendoopThose of you who refuse to find quiet time in your life for thoughtful meditation are missing the glory of this life as you run faster than you have strength.

    I enjoyed your post, jenndoop. This last sentence, however, is problematic to me. First, I don’t think choosing not do engage in this kind of meditation can be equated with “refusing to find quiet time.” I meditate all the time, but it’s usually while on the treadmill or while lying in bed trying to sleep or while driving to pick someone up. The fact that I’m not sitting in lotus position while chanting doesn’t mean that I am missing the glory of this life. I don’t begrudge those who do, it just doesn’t fit me–and probably never will. My best prayers have been while running. Does that make sense?

  • davidson June 15, 2008, 9:36 pm

    Echoing Alison.

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 10:06 am

    My best prayers have been while running. Does that make sense?

    At first, I was going to make a snarky comment like…
    Absolutely not… all I can do while running is whine and complain about how much I hate running!”

    But then I thought about something… I did some of my best lyric writing while speed walking on the treadmill at night. I was always trying to find something to distract my mind from how much I REALLY DID HATE being on that stupid treadmill and make the time pass. So I’d sing songs to the rhythm of my steps.

    Eventually I went from singing OTHER people’s songs that I already knew, to coming up with a new song. No one else was in the basement, it was quiet, other than the “whirring” sound of the machine and the rhythm of my feet hitting the treadmill, so it was good time for concentrating. I’d just mess around with different lines, then when I came up with something I was happy about, I’d just sing it over and over so I wouldn’t forget it.
    Then when my time was up I run upstairs and type it on the computer!

  • davidson June 16, 2008, 12:28 pm

    We call it bathtub inspiration at our house. Laugh away. I get some of my best inspiration in a bathtub–not necessarily in a shower. I am alone, relaxed, calm and able to think. My mind wanders, and that is one of the benefits of meditation, from my point of view. As my mind wanders, the Holy Ghost can help it wander to a subject on which the Lord could teach me a thing or two. I feel that same way about prayer. My husband and his Dutch father laid brick together every day. Not only were they father and son, they were business partners, and they spent a huge amount of quantity and quality time together. They became so comfortable with each other, in the rhythmn of the repetitive motion they were doing putting bricks in a wall, their minds were free to wander together as they talked, much the way we do in these threads. We start talking about one thing and then wind up talking about something else that eventually yields a useful outcome. One day when my husband was bemoaning the fact that his mind wandered when he was praying, I told him, “If you were comfortable enough with your earthly father to do that every day, shouldn’t you be comfortable enough with your Heavenly Father to do that every day? Why not think out loud with Him? Pay attention to where your mind wanders when you are praying. Maybe God is guiding you to think, during prayer, about something over which you could or should pray. If it is on your mind, it is important enough to discuss with Him.”

    I believe in meditation. All of the prophets believe in meditation, as in being alone to think deeply and pray. President Spencer W. Kimball was especially well-known to disappear suddenly, which caused concern, but he was gone walking and meditating. I object to mantras and the lotus position for meditation for the same reason I object to candy cigarettes and washable tattoos. It approaches something that could spark an interest in more dangerous things. I use the word dangerous intentionally. As she imitated teachings from another religion, our daughter somehow lost her grasp on OUR religion. She went looking for comfort elsewhere and found it, and slowly our Comforter became unimportant to her. I don’t believe the Holy Ghost was the one who taught her, in her efforts to calm herself, that God doesn’t exist.

    You are entitled to your opinion; I am entitled to mine. I honor and respect yours, and I expect you will do the same for me.

    Alison believes we should be careful to not read more into our guidelines than is actually given. I believe there is safety in decidedly flying high above the trees. A Sunday School manual told about pilots who were losing their lives because they flew too close to the treetops. If there was a problem with the engine, planes flying too close to the trees dipped down and crashed into them, and pilots died. Eventually it became a rule for pilots to fly 500 feet above the treetops. That way, if there was a slight malfunction and the plane dipped down, it had a margin in which to make an error without deadly consequences. I calmly and firmly BELIEVE in flying a little higher than the treetops in spiritual matters. The commandments given to us are purposeful minimums. Of course we could become fanatic and make it a HUGE margin between what is required and what we actually do, but truth is reason. We can be reasonably obedient in flying A LITTLE higher than the treetops, giving ourselves a safety margin, avoiding the very appearance of evil. That isn’t so idiotic.

    In our ward there was a beautiful young mother who was called to be a Young Women advisor. She was, hmmm, how shall we say. . . well-endowed. She came to Church each Sunday beautifully dressed, but her clothing choices were at the edge of modesty. They covered her garments (and it may have been that her garments didn’t fit properly ) but we were occasionally “treated” to a view of her cleavage. I watched as some of the Young Women began to follow her “flying barely above the treetops” approach to clothing (no pun intended!). This included another daughter of mine. It was hard to say anything, because these women were called to be leaders in word and deed, and I didn’t want to undermine a leader. Actually, this woman is my first cousin’s wife, which makes it even harder, and I love her to death. She is from a Latin country and her traditions are different than ours. But under the power of this woman’s example, several young people in our ward began to flirt with immodesty and felt they were justified because of this leader’s choices. Who knows how far-reaching the effects will be? I know it reached into our family.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 12:44 pm

    Posted By: davidsonAlison believes we should be careful to not read more into our guidelines than is actually given. I believe there is safety in decidedly flying high above the trees.

    Actually, that’s not what I believe. What I believe is that it’s wrong to elevate OUR PERSONAL version of “flying high” into “doctrine” or “more righteous” or “the position for those who are ‘really’ in tune with the Spirit.”

    The truth is, lots of people who THINK they are “flying high” are nothing more than fanatics. More is not always better. And very often the fanaticism turns into preaching that their “higher law” position is what God REALLY wants us to do–if only we were strong and righteous enough to accept it.

    As I said, this comes up with WoW ALL the time and it’s mighty easy to refute. And none of the preachers have the AUTHORITY to declare doctrine for the masses.

  • davidson June 16, 2008, 12:59 pm

    Maybe they are not trying to “declare doctrine for the masses.” Maybe they are offering another viewpoint, giving an opporunity to see a matter in another light? I’m curious, Alison; do you actually see anyone here “declaring doctrine for the masses?” I thought this website was all about opinions.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 1:16 pm

    Posted By: davidsonMaybe they are not trying to “declare doctrine for the masses.” Maybe they are offering another viewpoint, giving an opporunity to see a matter in another light?

    Sure it’s “another viewpoint.” One of the “viewpoints” is that “being a vegan is the higher law,” for example.

    I’m curious, Alison; do you actually see anyone here “declaring doctrine for the masses?”

    Recently? No. But I think we have to be very careful about how we present our opinions and to be clear what is official and what is just us. And I do think some of the statements about tattoos in the other thread could be read to extend the prophet’s counsel beyond what it was.

    I thought this website was all about opinions.

    Not sure what your point is. I suppose that I can present my opinion as well. I haven’t removed any comments.

    I clarified that I have not said that “we should be careful to not read more into our guidelines than is actually given.” We can’t possibly apply counsel without seeing how it fits with OUR lives–which is “reading more into” them.

    But I also don’t believe that “flying high” is something to be GENERALLY promoted as being good, either. Sometimes it might be good, sometimes actually harmful. (For example, I don’t believe that counsel is necessarily “purposeful minimums.”) As I said, doing more is not necessarily better–or even more righteous. Let’s fast every Sunday. No, let’s be really righteous and fast every day.

    So, for the record, yes, many, many, many times I’ve seen people take actual, legitimate counsel, extend it well beyond what was said, and made GENERAL declarations about how their personal extension was MORE righteous than the actual counsel.

  • jendoop June 16, 2008, 1:17 pm

    Allison- You have no idea how much I understand how running can be meditation. I ran almost daily until my illness prevented it. (I wrote about it here- http://lajendi.typepad.com/lajendi/2008/04/mornings.html) I miss it so much, there is nothing like it, but yoga comes as close as anything else I’ve found.

    No one can say specifically to another, meditation is 1 hour of aohms and lotus position otherwise it’s useless. The opposite is also true, because an hour of aohms and lotus position works for a person does not mean they are losing their faith and on the edge of apostacy. I’m just strongly encouraging some kind of meditation (quiet introspection) for every person. This meditation is more likely to benefit a person if also accompanied by daily scripture study and prayer, which I consider guard rails on this roller coaster ride.

    davidson- The shower is often a place I receive answers to a problem, another place to be free of interruptions and noise (visual and audio). Don’t let your daughter’s situation sour your observation and appreciation of other cultures and religions. “Other” is not the enemy. With the teachings your daughter had as your child, trust that her search will bring her back to the truth that she has always in her heart known. Recently I found the blog of a woman who went down the same path and is now a devout Christian. If it is helpful – http://www.conversiondiary.com

  • davidson June 16, 2008, 1:22 pm

    Thank you, Sweetheart. I appreciate your kindness.

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 1:28 pm

    I think you’re misunderstanding what she said Davidson. i don’t think she meant her comments toward you, or anyone in particular. It sounded to me like she was speaking in general.
    You said that she thought that “we should be careful to not read more into our guidelines than is actually given.”
    And she was clarifying that that’s NOT what she believes, but believes that people are perfectly welcome to read more into them, if they feel so inclined, but that she also believes that people who DO go further than what the guideline says, shouldn’t then take their stricter guideline and assume that it applies to everyone, and “declare it for masses” as though there’s a “new” guideline, since that DOES often happen.
    We have a family in our ward who are serious WOW zealots and have come up with all sorts of new standards that they want the whole ward to adopt, and that they declare to be the “higher WoW” since the WOW was only “adapted to the capacity of the weak.”
    The husband gave a fireside for the youth and REALLY upset some of the leaders and parents– telling the kids that sugar is more addictive than illegal drugs. No kidding. My husband was there and stuck his foot down.
    It sounded to me like Alison was just clarifying her position, not talking about you.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 11:37 pm


  • WhoIsLikeGod January 27, 2010, 11:49 pm

    President David O. McKay taught, “We pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion. In our worship there are two elements: One is spiritual communion arising from our own meditation; the other, instruction from others, particularly from those who have authority to guide and instruct us. Of the two, the more profitable introspectively is the meditation. Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as ‘a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.’ Meditation is a form of prayer. MEDITATION IS ONE OF THE MOST SECRET, MOST SACRED DOORS THROUGH WHICH WE PASS INTO THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD” (Teachings…manual, pp. 31-32. caps added).

    There are two parts to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The first deals with the problems of mortality. The Atonement can offer “heal[ing to] the brokenhearted…deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” (Luke 4:18) resurrection, etc. The second part deals with growing into our capacity to become one with God, by learning God from God–through the Atonement of Christ and the Holy Spirit (the reason we can receive it as a constant companion). Most people (Christians in and out of the Church) feel that if they can succeed in the first part, then “some day” they might be able to experience the second part; probably long after they are dead. They struggle with “living the gospel,” and admit all to often that they don’t live it as they should or could do so much better if they tried. What most people don’t realize is that by doing this they are denying Christ the sanctifying power and the eternal life (John 17:3, all) aspect to His precious gift (the true “good news/gospel” of Jesus Christ). By putting it off until “some day,” it may never happen. Eternal life is not thrust upon people who are unprepared, but it is the natural continuation of a relationship formed with God in mortality through faith by binding ourselves to Him through Christ. Those who have come to understand the second part of the Atonement know that by partaking of God’s invitation to learn Him through grace and the Holy Spirit, the problems of mortality are swallowed up in the fullness of joy they are growing into. They are not free from problems, but all things (trials and prosperity) work in their favor as they use them to help strengthen their relationship with God unconditionally. Their purpose isn’t to overcome sin; Christ did that. Their purpose is to overcome their separation from God (death) through Christ and the Spirit. They have no more disposition to do evil, but to partake of the presence of God by progressively greater degrees until the perfect day. As they are prepared to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, they find unspeakable joy in it like Lehi. Unfortunately, those who are unprepared may turn away in shame when they come face to face with the pure love and presence of God, even though they have held to the rod and walked the straight path (Matthew 7:21-23). We know that Lehi held to the rod (safeguards, commandments, standards, etc.) and he walked the path (steps, ordinances, covenants, etc.), but his formula for preparation was receiving and accepting an invitation to follow the Holy Spirit and relying upon the tender mercies of God. By the time he got to the tree he was already familiar with the Holy Spirit and the grace that comes through the Atonement of Christ. For those who fell away, it is never mentioned that they accepted an invitation to follow the Holy Spirit (although they took the steps of baptism and confirmation) or ever felt the need to rely upon the Atonement of Christ when the darkness came. THEY clung to the rod (outward safeguards) upon their own strength instead of the Savior and many were unprepared to enjoy the fruit of the tree of life.

    With this being said, I will now comment on meditation. Joseph Smith taught, “I am going to enquire after God; for I want you all to know him, and to be familiar with him” (Teachings…p. 345) and “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God” (History of the Church 6:305). Brother Joseph always invites us to experience what he does and meant to show the way to laying hold of eternal life. Here is a list of several forms of “Mormon” meditation that I believe Rachel will love as well as some of those who may have felt uncomfortable with her methods of investigation.

    “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. Although Martha’s intentions were to do the works that she thought pleased the Savior, it was Mary sitting still at the Lord’s feet who found joy in her knowledge and observance of the Savior, rather that getting upset and even blaming others for her unhappiness (Luke 10:38-42). Mary chose the good part that would not be taken away from her. She did not have an agenda with the Savior, but unconditionally desired whatever the Lord saw fit to give her according to His wisdom. How can we more fully be still and come to know the Lord rather than always asking Him for what WE think we need?

    In his book “To Draw Closer to God,” President (then Elder) Henry B. Eyring suggests some techniques to help us not be dissatisfied during Church meetings. He says that we can offer silent prayers asking God that we might hear His voice through the words of His servants and have materials ready to write down whatever He may give us (even if it does not seem to go along with the speaker ?s message per se). I have tried this at Church and at home with audio/video talks, scriptures, music etc. It takes a while to grow into, but the fruit is beyond description. We can begin to love God more than all His holy things.

    We have a tendency to look outward for God but truths such as these can be meditated upon. Our oldest parts and the foundation upon which our Spirit body was added upon is the light of truth. “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be” (D&C 93:29). The light of Christ or a portion of His Spirit dwells in every man. “45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. 47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father (D&C 84:45-47). Our mortal bodies are temples for the Holy Ghost. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). The kingdom of God is within you (individuals make up a community, those who are not ruled by God cannot observe/comprehend things in a celestial manner). “20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

    One form of meditation is to yield to the Spirit while focusing on the names of God. One of the most reverenced names for God throughout the world is Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, Hebrew for I AM THAT I AM. As I was meditating over For the Strength of Youth pamphlet one day with this name I discovered these truths about myself. Although not all truths have come to pass in fullness yet, but by repeating them aloud several things happened. First I recognized where it might not be true. Then I recognized that I really wanted it to be true (desire/Alma 32). Then I felt the Holy Ghost tell me that Heavenly Father, Jesus, all the Hosts of heaven, and my righteous ancestors/living family/posterity wanted it to become true too. Then I felt the Holy Ghost encouraging me that it is possible and strengthened deep hope in some things that I never really have time to stop and think of. All this and more really opened my eternal perspective and appreciation for what God and Christ are doing for us independently and through the Church. I know this is a long response and I will leave with these truths and one more comment. The more I repeated each statement in a row (before moving to the next one), the deeper I realized God’s truth and the potential for His will in my life. Rachel, I think you will enjoy this one the most. Of course, begin with prayer.

    From For the Strength of Youth: Message from the First Presidency ?

    I AM a beloved young man (or young woman)
    I AM one in whom great confidence is placed
    I AM a choice spirit
    I AM coming forth in this day when responsibilities and opportunities, as well as temptations, are the greatest
    I AM at the beginning of my journey through this mortal life
    I AM able to have a joyful life and to be lead back into the presence of Heavenly Father because He wants it
    I AM determining much of what will follow during my life and throughout eternity by the choices I make

    I AM receiving commandments and the words of prophets to guide me on my journey because the Lord loves me
    I AM declaring some of the most important guidelines for my life
    I AM receiving the testimony of prophets that these principles are true

    I AM keeping the standards given me by the prophets
    I AM living by the truths taught in the scriptures
    I AM able to do my life ?s work with greater wisdom and skill
    I AM able to bear trials with greater courage
    I AM receiving the help of the Holy Ghost
    I AM feeling good about myself
    I AM a positive influence in the lives of others
    I AM worthy to go the temple and to receive holy ordinances
    I AM receiving all these blessings and many more

    I AM being prayed for by the holy prophets
    I AM keeping my mind and body clean from the sins of the world so that I can do the great work that lies before me
    I AM being prayed for by the holy prophets (mentioned twice!!!)
    I AM worthy to carry on the responsibilities of building the kingdom of God and preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior
    I AM building the kingdom of God
    I AM preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior

  • Alison Moore Smith January 28, 2010, 12:13 am

    Just wanted you to know that only Rachel and I (the admin) can see your post because you whispered it. Did you intend this to be private or do you want me to open it to all the site visitors?

  • WhoIsLikeGod January 28, 2010, 9:04 pm

    Yes, please open my Meditate on Meditation comment to all the site visitors. Still kind of new to all this stuff. I just thought Rachel would like some of the comments made. The original posting was old so I just wanted to make sure she had an opportunity to read it if she wanted. Thank you.

  • Brian Holman May 31, 2008, 1:44 pm

    For anyone who would like to listen to a terrific interview of Phil McLemore (the man who inspired Rachel by his own experience) click on the following URL and listen to the 5th podcast listed.

    Or you can read an excellent paper he wrote called Mormon Mantras found here: Sunstone

  • Kyla October 22, 2012, 6:41 pm

    Love this article, love mediation, and have been an active member of the LDS church my entire life. I have a strong testimony of the gospel.

    and here us an article of Harold B Lee suggesting mediation.


  • PYislove February 9, 2013, 12:40 am

    Rachael Holman;
    that was a very interesting blog on Meditation.
    I too have heard Phil McLemores great healing
    experience podcasts using Yoga Meditation.
    They are so inspiring.
    One thing your essay did was to let us see
    so many kinds of Mormons/TBMs etc.
    A lot of people will benefit from this essay!

  • Dora June 21, 2014, 12:27 am

    Just wanted to affirm to you, here I am another novice meditating Mormon. Wonderful comments, especially that last long one.

  • Sarah June 22, 2015, 4:49 pm

    Very interesting discussion, even if I am several years late to the game! I have a strong testimony of the power of meditation to bring us closer to God. A recently published book that I love talks about a specific technology of meditation called Kundalini Yoga and how it complements and enhances our LDS faith so beautifully: Awake as in Ancient Days: A Christ Centered Kundalini Yoga Experience

    Fasting, prayer, scripture study and meditation can all combine together to provide a person with more insight, more peace, and more light in his/her life. It is a wonderful tool, and I pray that all people can use it.
    Sarah recently posted…Eleven monthsMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2015, 5:16 pm

    Sarah, I keep the comment open. You’re never too late to contribute. Thanks for sharing.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Transgenderism, Caitlyn Jenner, and How Feelings RuleMy Profile

  • PYislove June 10, 2016, 9:02 am

    I have read about Phil McLemore elsewhere on the net.
    I admire his promotions of Yoga Meditation. This is the
    science behind real religion.
    This article is well written and will hopefully awaken many
    readers to this valuable key to enhancing spiritual evolution.
    There is a great difference between prayer and meditation.
    Like the difference between crawling and flying!
    Mormons can gain a great deal from yoga meditation.

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