Throughout my adult life, I’d been resistant to dedicating time for meditation. As a busy mom taking care of five young children, I told myself it just wasn’t practical to meditate with everything else I had to get done—and so without much thought, I pushed the idea of meditation aside.
And yet, part of me longed for more stillness in my day-to-day. My personal scripture study and prayer were often rushed and sometimes even forgotten in the clamorous chaos of life, and my Sunday meetings were usually spent trying to calm and quiet my children. I realized that my opportunity to feel the Spirit and receive revelation was impaired, and that I would need to reorganize my daily schedule to remedy this.
I was aware of meditation due to its rise in popularity in recent years, and I was intrigued by its health benefits such as reducing stress, promoting emotional health, and improving sleep. The prophets have also spoken about the benefits of meditation. President David O. McKay has said, “We pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion ... Meditation is the language of the soul. … Meditation is a form of prayer.”
As I’ve started practicing meditation in my life, I’ve noticed an increase in the peace and calm I feel even when the world around me feels turbulent. It’s also given me a fresh perspective on life and on gospel living. Here are just some of the takeaways I’ve found about meditation and how it can enhance our relationship with the Savior.
Create a Plan
When first starting out, I decided to meditate twice each day to reap as many benefits as I could from the daily practice. While that might seem like a big commitment, it’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds. I chose two short blocks of time to meditate (5–15 minutes) that were least disruptive to my schedule: early in the morning, and just before going to sleep at night. After meditating, I would then pray, study the scriptures, and journal. To ensure I wasn’t rushing to do all of this, I set my alarm so that it would go off 30 minutes earlier than normal.
Whether I spent 5 minutes or 30 minutes to accomplish my morning routine before my children were awake, I soon felt the benefits from my efforts. Dedicating this time to my mornings helped me find a moment of calm before the stresses of the day began and created significant improvements in my ability to practice patience and kindness with my children and others. It also helped me keep a better focus during religious worship, prayer, and scripture study. My capacity to manage my thoughts and emotions during stressful moments also improved.
My second meditation would take place just before going to sleep each night. Listening to a guided meditation helped clear my mind of worries and stress, and I found that I would fall asleep faster and get a better night’s sleep after incorporating this into my evening ritual.
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In addition to my morning and nightly routines, I have tried to make small adjustments to incorporate meditation into my day. As a lover of podcasts and audiobooks, I have often filled my time with positive things to listen to while I’m driving, cleaning, or exercising. They can be an excellent way to stimulate my mind and develop my interests. But recently, I’ve decided to leave more time for contemplation by removing some of these distractions. So each day, I choose a time to turn off the podcasts and audiobooks and allow myself time for thoughtful reflection. I’ve found that eliminating some of the noise helps me make the most of my meditation—if I don’t take the time to process what I have studied or the inspiration I have received, then the lessons I’ve learned can be forgotten quickly. My prayers and scripture study feel more impactful when they are followed by this period of reflection, helping me to manage stress in my daily life and better live the gospel each day.
After creating a plan for incorporating meditation into my daily life, I found that it can also enhance my overall worship. These are a couple of ways that the practice has benefited me:
Staying fully engaged: In the past, I often found that my mind would get distracted and start to wander when I was attending church. But the practice of meditation teaches you to bring your thoughts back to the present moment, and as I became more accustomed to that mindset it became easier for me to focus on the Savior instead of the noise around me during my church meetings. I started more earnestly using the quiet moments during the administration of the sacrament to enjoy spiritual reflection, and when I noticed my thoughts starting to wander or if I was getting distracted by my children, I would gently remind myself to refocus and recenter on the purpose of my worship. It also helped me when I attended the temple if I noticed my thoughts starting to stray. By focusing on intentional, deep breathing and clearing my mind, I was able to get my thoughts back on track and focused on the right things. Of course, I’m not perfect and my mind still wanders just like anyone else’s—but meditating has been a helpful tool as I try and connect more with the Savior.
Receiving revelation: Taking a few moments before, during, or after my scripture study to truly ponder what I’ve read that day has been another important part of meditation that has brought me closer to the Spirit. As I’ve intentionally cleared and quieted my mind, I’ve received inspiration from the scriptures about what the Lord wants me to learn, which gives me comfort and peace. I’ve also found that keeping a scripture journal can give me more opportunities to meditate and reflect on what I’ve learned and on what the Spirit is trying to teach me.
As I’ve become more deliberate about meditating, I’ve found that I’m more in tune with the Lord and can better receive personal revelation from Him. There is a great example from Church history about this principle. In Doctrine and Covenants 76:19, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received revelation and greater understanding after meditating. The verse reads, “And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.” Their example shows that by meditating we can receive personal revelation from the Spirit in our lives, who will open our understanding in ways we couldn’t do on our own.
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Meditation Can Improve Your Outlook on Life
In addition to benefiting our gospel living, meditation can help us find a more positive outlook on life—which is exactly what Heavenly Father wants for us. In 2 Nephi 2:25 we learn, “Adam fell that men might be and men are, that they might have joy.” The Lord wants us to find joy in our everyday life, and meditation can give us moments to recognize our blessings and focus on the joy to be found in the present moment instead of focusing on the negative.
According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation and mindfulness can help us gain a more positive perspective, stay focused on the present, and increase our patience and tolerance with others. As a busy mom, I have often felt lacking when it comes to having patience and being long-suffering. One of my sons has an especially difficult time completing his bedtime routine without lots of reminders to keep him on task. There have been many nights when my impatience with him has led to embittered nagging and frustration on both our parts. But after starting my daily meditation practice, I found a greater capacity to quietly wait while he went through his evening routine with just a few gentle reminders from me. I am still a work in progress when it comes to showing perfect patience, but I have found my abilities and my relationships to be greatly strengthened when I allow room for stillness so I can better feel the Savior’s peace in my heart and mind.
Meditation Can Improve Mental and Physical Health
Meditation also has undeniable mental and physical health benefits. For instance, a recent study shows that the practice can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression and help with chronic pain, eating disorders, and substance abuse, among other ailments—all of which are compelling reasons to practice stillness in our own lives.
The Savior is the perfect example of being still. In the New Testament, we read the story of when Jesus was asleep on a boat with His disciples while a storm raged around them. His disciples woke Him, asking, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38) They were understandably very fearful and distressed by the situation they were in. And so Jesus “arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39) The Savior’s ability to sleep through the storm is a powerful reminder to us today; as we feel tempest-tossed by the metaphorical storms that blow, we can faithfully follow His admonition to have peace, and “be still.”
In my own life, I have noticed drastic reductions in my feelings of stress and anxiety when I pause and take a moment to be mindful and still. For instance, there are occasional times when I am running late and instead of allowing my stress to compound and turn into frustration or anger, I take a few deep breaths and try to clear my head. This helps me to replace my stress and frustration with feelings of peace and calm by putting my worries into proper perspective.
The Right Focus
I have found an abundance of blessings flow into my life as I have made time and space for meditation and stillness. As I have learned to refocus my wandering thoughts during meditation, I have also gained a greater ability to keep my focus on the Lord even when my life feels overloaded with distractions. I know that as I continue to develop this practice, I will be more in tune with the Lord and will be more open to receiving personal revelation.
In the October 2022 general conference, Elder James W. McConkie III of the Seventy shared a quote from Elder Joseph B Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that shows the connection between meditation and our relationship with the Savior. He said, “Do you love the Lord? Spend time with Him. Meditate on His words. Take His yoke upon you.” It is my hope that we all can prioritize a time for meditation and reflection as we seek to find greater joy and become more like the Savior in our daily gospel living.