There are numerous miracles in which Christ calms something: Christ calms the worried father for their sick child, Christ calms the mother for a dead son, Christ calms two friends for their dead brother, Christ calms his own mother as He is brutally crucified, Christ calms the a woman caught in adultery, Christ calms the lepers for their sicknesses, and there is so much more. Christ does calm a storm, saying “Peace, be still”, but he also calms the nerves of the worried disciples in that same boat.
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
The disciples were afraid that they were going to drown. But Christ says, “Peace, be still”, to the storm. The storm could be an actual storm, or the storm in the heart and mind. Christ essentially says to the disciples that they need not have worried because He was on the boat with them. And so Christ would be exhorting them to be calm as Christ calmed the turbulent storm.
I want to compare myself with the disciples on the boat. I hope that you may learn something as I share what I have learned by practice over the previous several years. The practice of which I speak is maintaining a mental and spiritual health in order to remain still and calm. I have learned that constant practice of maintaining my health for internal peace will help me believe that Christ is steering my boat.
Some time ago, I got my first job out of college working for a big name company. I was excited to be in the big world having a big boy job! Nearly everyone that I talked to would say that my resume would be great with this new job, so I thought it must be a great! It didn’t happen that way.
I was shunned and belittled, because I saw things that I sincerely thought were more effective than the methods I was instructed to do. Other people verified that my methods were not all that bad; they would in fact be better. Each time I approached management, they pinned me as this naive college graduate kid that didn’t know what I was talking about. To give them credit, they were partially right; I was a bit hot headed. It happened to be that nearly everyone else that I’ve talked with about my experience at GM gave me the justification and not my managers.
As a result of a toxic work environment, I would return home angry and stressed. I vented to my friends of my poor experience, and because I vented to my friends I hated the job more. I did not want to have this attitude at all. I tried to maneuver in GM to different teams, but somehow I kept facing the same issues of uncaring and unprofessional management. I clearly had to leave my first job.
Eventually, I got a new job with the church! Before I switched jobs, I had found a mindfulness meditation app called Headspace. The thought of mindfulness meditation grabbed my attention. Could I really get my stressed and anger reduced from a toxic work environment? Could I effectively become a more relaxed person? I had to see what studies have been done and if this wasn’t a fluke.
One of the studies claimed that people who meditated reported an average 46% reduction in depression and 31% reduction in anxiety. That would sure help as I try to manage leaving GM. I did not know what to expect after I left. Another study showed the brain gets rewired when one meditates. One can essentially have more control of what emotions they act on. For example, another referenced study claims there was a 57% reduction in aggression to negative feedback, reduced irritability by 27%, and increase positive emotions by 16%. I found the studies that proved to me that I needed to practice mindfulness meditation, so that I can recover from a bad job.
I started to meditate. I would sit still and listen to the relaxing British voice of Andy Puddicombe. By sitting still, I was able to observe my surroundings through all the human senses. The meditation lessons taught me that my thoughts do not define who I am. The thoughts that appear in the mind are by nature of the mind. What matters is if you act on the thoughts that appear in the mind. By acting on the thoughts, you start establishing habits and getting carried away in your own thoughts.
As I continued to practice mindfulness meditation, I was able to observe a more calm and peaceful mind. I could notice angry thoughts appearing in the mind, and then I chose to not act on those angry thoughts. I noticed that I could sort through my thoughts better in order to reason with who I was talking with. Clearly, being still with Headspace was helping me!
But what does mindfulness meditation have to do with increasing a relationship with Christ? Let me tell you by first quoting a verse of scripture.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin […] Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? […] for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Consider the Lilies
In this passage where Christ pleads to “consider the lilies”, in one sense, He is teaching to be mindful of the things around you and to learn from them. By simply observing one’s surrounding, one can learn that Heavenly Father cares and He will provide for what is needed. I can take comfort in knowing this, that a loving caring Father in Heaven is always there to help. Heavenly Father can provide for a better lifestyle from depression, anxiety, and anger. He is inviting one to be still and listen.
In the entire Sermon on the Mount, I would be willing to claim that Christ is teaching to be mindful of nearly anything. And be mindful in a good way! Christ teaches to look out for the your neighbor and make sure that you judge righteously. In these situations that Christ teaches, it requires some level of being mindful of your surroundings and what you are feeling. Observe your neighbor and see what help they need. Observe that you may not be too judgmental of another person. Listen and observe, it might just teach what is truly happening with in oneself.
And so I have had the opportunity to go through two different jobs, and each one has gotten better professionally. I got to work with great people, and do things that I considered were professional. In each subsequent job that I obtained, I was able to put forward my practice of being mindful. By being more mindful, I am able to succeed more and more in the workplace.
The Holy Ghost wants you to practice being still! That is the way to feel the Holy Ghost. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance […]” Galations 5:22-23. These attributes only come from being still. Will a loud and busy person be loving, joyful, peaceful, long-suffering, gentle, good, faithful, meek, or temperate? I do not see that happening.
Elder Renlund from last General Conference provides an insight of being still. Pondering the goodness of God can help one be still and be more connected with God. Elder Renlund told a story that an elderly man who needed a heart transplant. There weren’t any available heart donations for the elderly man. After a while, a heart appeared from the elderly man’s grandson. The elderly man accepted the heart, and he has been able to live for another good while. The elderly man commented to Elder Renlund that he ponders about his grandson everyday.
Elder Renlund then draws the comparison that we ought to ponder the gifts of God, and by pondering on these gifts one can be spiritually transformed. One can have more faith in Christ and His purposes. One can believe that there are purposes to nearly everything in life. CCan one ponder the goodness of God and not be still? I don’t thing that is possible. Some of the best spiritual moments that I have had in my life came when I decided to be still.
I have done several solo hikes. The first solo hike to Grandeur Peak is very special to me. Along the way up, I was essentially still, although I was moving. But yes I was still because my mind was still. I drew from the comforting quiet of the trail I was on. Occasionally I would stop and listen to my surrounding. I heard the wind rushing through the trees, a stream trickling down the canyon, and a deer call. It was peaceful, so I was at peace too. There was nothing to worry about. And since I had gained stillness on the hike, I was able to think spiritually. My thoughts went to how I can keep walking while in the middle of personal challenges. I came to the conclusion that even if I was hiking upwards towards a peak, there is the beautiful environment that I may be able to enjoy. A verse from Alma comes to mind.
And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.
Alma had several challenges that faced him. From his conversion to all the different events in his ministry. And did Alma stop with all those challenges? He did not! In fact, he seems to keep a constant connection open to the Holy Ghost by being still. Alma is still when he prays, and in every mission that Alma takes, Alma is always praying. Alma is able to effectively prove that one can be guided by being still with the Holy Ghost.
What I learned from being spiritually still is that I need to give time to pray and to think about life. I can think about challenges and what I am learning from them. I can also think about how God is helping me to move forward. From what can potentially happen, my future is bright. I want it to happen by giving my best effort of being still and having the intention to be still always.
I close with these words from Psalm 46.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Be still, and know that I am God […]
I know that God is my refuge and strength. I know that he is present in trouble. I know that by thoroughly intending to obey God’s commandments, I may have a greater purpose in life. When God says, “Be still”, He really means to be still. Observing my thoughts, emotions, surroundings, and my spiritual health has proven to be very beneficial for my health and connection to God.
As Christ taught His disciples on that stormy day, I need to have faith that He is steering my ship towards safety. I need to have faith that He is ever present with me, and everyone else that I meet. I know that I can help my faith even more by being still and not worrying about what goes on around me. Instead, I can act on what serves me and others best.
Benefits of Meditation
Consider the Goodness of God
Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge