Jacob Hess, Carrie Skarda, Kyle Anderson, and Ty Mansfield are the authors of The Power of Stillness: Mindful Living for Latter-day Saints. In this interview they discuss where mindfulness and meditation fit into the gospel and how we can better approach our service and our practices with the balance of mindfulness.
Jacob Hess, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) instructor trained through the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Carrie Skarda, PsyD, is a psychologist in private practice. She has provided individual and couples therapy with particular interest in attachment trauma and mindfulness, and has studied and practiced mindfulness and formal meditation for over ten years.
Kyle Anderson, PhD, is a professor of Chinese and Asian Studies, currently an administrator in Global Learning, International Partnerships and Initiatives at Clemson University, and came to mindfulness meditation through his studies in Asian literature.
Ty Mansfield, PhD, is a practicing marriage and family therapist, an adjunct instructor in Religious Education at Brigham Young University, and is in the process of certification with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach in their Mindfulness Meditation Teacher training program.
5:40 Jacob was exposed to meditation in graduate school and began to see where it fit into the gospel tradition
7:00 Backgrounds of the authors
9:00 Definitions of mindfulness and what it means to Christians and to Latter-day Saints: compassionate presence in the moment
11:10 Christ was meditative and present in the moment
12:25 Being busy vs. mindfulness
14:00 Looking for words in our own tradition: reverence, peace, stillness, pondering
15:45 Advice for a busy leader: Christ had a practice of punctuating his doing with non-doing; the rhythm of action and pausing is already built in to our practices
19:40 It’s not the gospel that people struggle with, but an impoverished experience of it
20:55 David O. McKay quote: “I think 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 meditation. Meditation is the language of the soul.”
22:10 Example in a ward council: not praying as a to-do, but sitting with the Savior
23:30 Clarity and priority come through pausing between action
24:25 Centering the attention on the inspiration in the moment and not on the calendar: Am I interruptable?
26:20 The Savior was interruptable in his task at hand and could pivot to what was most needful in the moment
28:35 The Savior was willing to build in his time with His Father, the foundation of His work
29:35 We can meditate on the person in front of us by giving them our full attention in that moment
31:30 The order in which the Savior did what he did: communion with the Father, surrounding himself in community, then going out to minister
33:45 C.S. Lewis (in Mere Christianity): “It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
35:25 Tech hack for when you’re tied to your computer: the first tabs on the left are dedicated to devotion
36:40 How we organize our lives reflects our core values: look for the bigger purpose instead of organizing in a task-oriented way
37:30 Doing more can be disobedient, and following God’s will can involve taking out good things in favor of better or best; unnecessary sacrifice is evil
39:15 Jacob’s New Year’s resolution to be less efficient; doing our one little piece—what God wants done
41:30 Example of when the Savior didn’t heal and didn’t preach
42:50 There can be big things that need doing, but we are not asked to do them all the time, and the danger comes when we associate our self worth and our relationship with God with the accomplishment of great things; it’s about balance
47:15 The doing mode of mind vs. the being mode of mind
48:40 Addiction and recovery focused on sobriety vs. the unmet needs of the sinner; compassion is to go with people into their pain
52:00 So much of the practices of mindfulness go back to practicing what we truly believe
54:20 We have organized the gospel into behavioral steps, but there is a higher way
55:50 Repentance as a practice of turning back and beginning again, moment by moment
58:15 Love is creating space for another, and this can be healing even if there is no pragmatic solution in that moment
59:30 David Augsburger: “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”
1:01:10 Smiling and being open to the distraction instead of reacting with fear or annoyance
1:02:45 We love the stories of change and resolution, but we need to be okay with a different process when things get messy instead: being at piece with the progress and the trajectory because change happens in moments over time
1:07:05 It’s consistency over time that leads to substantive change; the culture of narratives of what life is supposed to look like
1:11:55 Expectations are premeditative resentments: the second act of a play is the messy part
1:12:00 The substance of the gospel is practicing being in each moment in the most honest and compassionate way
1:13:10 You impact as a leader related to mental health: there is a healing power in listening; ministering is directly connected to lifting burdens
1:16:00 Mindfulness leads to being less reactive, being more curious, feeling more joy in the moments, and experiencing more steadiness
1:17:30 This may feel very strange, different, and even difficult