To meditate means to ponder, contemplate, muse, or reflect upon things ranging from the immediate and present to the infinite and universal. This practice produces great blessings physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a practice that we should all cultivate with greater devotion. Meditation and pondering provide opportunities to sort things out, to create new concepts and ideas, and to receive pure inspiration for our needs and concerns. Meditation is largely a forgotten art due to the pressures of our “instant and now” society. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu taught: “Stillness and tranquility set things in order in the universe.” Regular pondering and meditating should always be part of our private religious life. President David O. McKay taught that “Meditation is the language of the soul.”
“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways” (Psalms 119:15). When we take the time to ponder and meditate on the things of the Lord, we will have a greater depth of understanding in regard to Heavenly Father’s dealings with us.
“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established” (Proverbs 4:26). As we contemplate and evaluate our lives, we are better able to ensure that we are on the straight and narrow path.
“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Timothy 4:15). Paul set the tone for all of us in his counsel to Timothy: When we liken the scripture to our lives—thinking on the things that the Lord has given us and putting them into practice—we change. We become. We profit by living the gospel of Jesus Christ so as to be directed by the Spirit.
“We need the Spirit of the Lord in our lives more. . . . But there is hardly time to reflect and think and pause and meditate. I daresay that most of those in this room today have not taken an hour in the last year to just sit down quietly, each man to himself, as a son of God, reflecting upon his place in this world, upon his destiny, upon his capacity to do good, upon his mission to make some changes for good. We need to” (Smithfield/Logan Utah Regional Conference, priesthood leadership session, April 20, 1996) (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 334).
“I’m going to make a suggestion to each of you. . . . Take occasion and arrange your affairs in such a way that you can be by yourself, maybe under a tree in the backyard, maybe in the locked bedroom of your home, where you can think. Read the scriptures and think of sacred things and think of yourself. Your attitude toward your wife—are you the kind of husband you ought to be, considerate, kind, generous, or are you a bully, an abuser? You cannot be a good servant of the Lord if there isn’t peace in your heart concerning your companion. . . . Your attitude toward your children: Are you rearing them in an atmosphere of love, or are you the kind of man who thinks he has to deal out punishment all the time? I’m one who believes that it isn’t necessary in rearing children to beat them. I’m one who believes that they will respond to love and appreciation. Think, under those circumstances, of your personal integrity—are you a man of honesty; are you a man who deals honestly with others? Say to yourselves, I must stand a little taller and be a little better. Try it, will you? Find a place where . . . you can spend an hour with yourselves quietly thinking of what you can do to make yourselves more worthy of the sacred call which you have” (Berlin Germany Regional Conference, priesthood leadership session, June 15, 1996) (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 335).
Here are three things to help us as we meditate:
1. Keep in mind the significant benefits that flow from pondering and meditating.
- Meditation is a way of coming to understand the things of God as the Spirit reveals the truth of these things to us.
- Thoughts precede our actions. Thoughts dwelled upon as we ponder create a desire that, if encouraged, can and will result in action. Remember: as a man thinketh in his heart so is he (see Proverbs 23:7).
- Use periods of meditation to clear the mind and to seek new solutions and new options.
- Meditation is the supreme antidote to stress and anxiety. The Holy Spirit truly will comfort us.
2. Pondering and meditating are personal in nature.
- Take time to prepare to meditate. If you use meditation as a means to enhance goal-attainment, seek simultaneously to obtain information that can assist you in your quest. Have a purpose in mind: finding answers to life’s questions, addressing immediate concerns, for relaxation and renewal, etc.
- With practice and discipline, you can meditate almost anywhere, anytime. Nevertheless, some prefer to find a special place—at home or in nature. It is best to have a time set aside with no outside interruptions, but be sure to be alert and attentive, not in a sleepy or drowsy condition.
3. Teach others through example and instruction how to meditate.
- Teach your family and your children to take time to meditate, ponder, relax, step aside for a time from the cacophony of raucous noises competing for our attention in the commercial world, and listen to the inner voice and to the promptings of the Spirit.
- Set a balanced tone among your friends and colleagues, demonstrating that you are including time in your life to relax, ponder, and study.
One anonymous thinker summarized aptly the theme of this section: “To think is deep; to ponder, deeper; to meditate is to plumb the very depths and roots of life.” We find greater strength within as we ponder the things of God. By meditating prayerfully, one can truly come to know and understand the things that matter most. That is why prayer is so important. Prayer is a form of meditation as we commune with our Heavenly Father, both vocally and silently. Let us strive to make meditation and pondering a more important part of our lives. As we ponder, the understanding and wisdom of the Lord will be opened unto us.
This article has been adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.