Reader Voices: Taking time for quiet thoughts

By John Bushman

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Nov. 27 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

Visualizing positive interactions through meditation.

John Bushman

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Some people have a presence and manner about them that just seems powerful.

I met one of these people on my mission years ago. One morning in a new area, I was surprised to find a fellow missionary sitting in his bed, meditating.

“What? Are you Hindu or something?” I said without much thought and a little surprise.

This elder smiled and in a very kind way, took the time to explain something he did that I think had a good deal to do with him being one of those wonderful people. He explained that each morning he would meditate, but it wasn’t the kind of meditation where he tried to take his mind to some empty or nirvana state. Quite to the contrary, it was a time of quiet thought.

While meditating he would pray and think about situations he might encounter that day with investigators, his companion, others, and then think of how to ideally approach each of those situations. He would think of how Jesus might respond to each of those situations and then imagine himself doing the same.

Years later, a colleague taught me a similar lesson. His insight came from Doctrine and Covenants 38:24 where it says, “And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.”

He then explained that the mind is where we generally practice through our interactions with others. People are pretty good at practicing vice in their minds, but not very good at practicing virtue. For instance, have you ever had a conflict with someone, so you imagined through what you might say and do the next time you see him or her? “And if he says that, then I’ll just tell him what an idiot he is and… and that will show him.”

In other words, have you ever practiced through scenarios like that before they happen? And was it practicing how to meet those situations as a godly man or woman or in a negative manner?

So here’s the challenge: Think of situations with spouses, children, colleagues or others that often end in a negative manner. Then meditate through how you could speak, act, or respond in a positive manner. Think of circumstances where you fall to laziness, anger or other temptations and then “practise virtue”; meditate through that situation in a godly manner. Then you will be more likely to make that scenario a reality, and “practice makes perfect.”

John Bushman is the author of "Impractical Grace" and lives in Washington state with his wife and family. His website is www.johnbushman.com.

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