Boyd Matheson: Being mindful creates calm and confidence

To be mindful is to be deliberately aware of your mind, body and spirit, in the present moment, in order to create a sense of calm and confidence. The scriptures are rich with insight and filled with examples of the blessings that flow from being mindful.

Being mindful begins with being still. The command to, “Be still and know that I am God,” is not a passive idea. The Savior amplified this notion to the disciples on the stormy sea when he likewise commanded them, not just the wind and the waves, to “Be still.” Being mindfully still creates calmness and confirms confidence.

It is difficult for most of us, young and old, to be mindful — to experience calm and confidence when we are constantly checking social media, reacting to beeps and tweets or being constantly interrupted by our electronic devices.

The adversary recognizes that distracting us with mindless activities will cause us to be inattentive and unresponsive to the whisperings of the Spirit and the revelation of God. Mindlessly scrolling through social media or surfing the internet not only wastes precious time but actually impacts our body, mind and spirit. Pursuing mindless activities undermines our serenity and erodes our spiritual certainty in who we are as children of God and disciples of Christ. Mindlessness prevents our confidence from waxing strong in the presence of the Divine.

It is challenging to remain mindful of the things that matter if we are never fully in the present. Obsessing on the past or worrying about the future can be physically paralyzing and emotionally and spiritually devastating.

It is impossible to be mindful if you are forever rehashing the past and constantly checking your rearview mirror. The anguish from previous personal mistakes, anxiety over missed life opportunities or even the pain endured through the misdeeds from others can cause confusion, angst and frustration. There is no calm or confidence in such emotions.

Projecting forward into the uncertainties and unknown challenges of the future can likewise create unnecessary stress and fear which also prevents us from being present. It is easy to attempt to control the uncontrollable or mentally muscle your way into the future life you desire. Such mental gymnastics is exhausting and keeps us a safe distance from the calm and confident assurance that we are in the Lord’s hands.

In the midst of a global pandemic much has changed. Many have used the label “new normal” to describe social distancing, restrictions on gathering in groups and the many meetings now happening via technology. Such a term requires the mind, body and spirit to look backward at what used to be, which, for many, can create feelings of frustration. The “new normal” also requires a view that the current situation will remain as it is in perpetuity.

A more mindful term would simply be a “new now.” It only requires us to be present to the moment and actually creates space for us to think deeper, more positively and more proactively. Being fully mindful in the “new now” will provide calmness in the storm and confidence in our ability to do what is needful.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “The past and present and future are part of an ‘eternal now’ with God!”

Being mindful helps calm stress in the hustle of daily living. Mindfulness is also a wonderful way to deal with chronic pain whether physical or mental. Much of our suffering and pain is compounded when, in the midst of present pain, we remember how awful it was the last time we experienced it or the future consequences if the present pain were to continue.  

The most important component of mindfulness is actually found in the spiritual calm and confidence it can create.

The Psalmist asked the question, “What is man that thou are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are ever mindful us. “The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us;” (Psalm 115:12).

“He will be mindful of his covenant” (Psalm 111:5).

In his opening remarks during the April 2020 general conference, to an empty auditorium due to the coronavirus pandemic, President Russell M. Nelson boldly testified, “I know that God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, are mindful of us.”

We are commanded to be mindful.

“Be ye mindful always of his covenant” (1 Chronicles 16:15).

“That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2).

Few things will bring us more calm and confidence than being mindful of the words of prophets and apostles. They can be the greatest source of strength in earthly trials and tribulation.

We are to be mindful of our children and fellow disciples.

Mormon wrote to his son Moroni saying, “I rejoice exceedingly that your Lord Jesus Christ hath been mindful of you” (Moroni 8:2).

Paul, knowing the great challenges Timothy was experiencing wrote that he was, “Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears,” (2 Timothy 1:4).

We are to be mindful of the widow, the orphan, the poor and the needy. Are we mindful of the tears of those we minister to? Are we providing calm and confidence to those around us — especially those who may silently suffer or who patiently wait in hope of help and healing?

Mindfulness occurs on both sides of the veil.

In 2 Nephi 18:19 we read about being mindful of and drawing strength from those who have gone before us. “Should not a people seek unto their God for the living to hear from the dead?” That kind of mindfulness from those who have gone before can be a wellspring of calm and confidence.

Recently Primary General President Joy D. Jones stood at a monument celebrating the many pioneer children who had died along the trail. She spoke of how mindful the children were in following their parents and their cheerful determination within the “new now” of their trek across the American wilderness.

President Jones spoke powerfully of being mindful of all the children she has met around the world in her travels, children who are also doing hard things in uncertain times. She testified that the Savior is ever mindful of His little ones.

As she reflected on being mindful of those who have gone before, President Jones shared a personal, mindful, experience: “I love thinking of last summer, I was standing in front of the headstone of my third great grandmother. She died in her 20s. She is buried in Mendon, New York. I felt such a connection to the past. I felt such a connection to all those loved ones who are mindful of me. So why would I not be mindful of them? Their lives were important, their lives mattered. And that hit me so strong. It was a powerful moment, as I stood there and talked to her, as I felt her as my guardian angel.”

President Jones on lessons from pioneer women and children: ‘We can do hard things’

Disciples, ancient and modern, have faced great uncertainty with the calm and confidence which comes from being mindful of spiritual things and recognizing that they were not alone. Adam, Abraham, Ruth, Naomi, Peter, Mary, Alma, Lehi, Sariah, Paul, Joseph, Eliza and countless Saints today have all confidently stepped into difficulties and out of despair by realizing that God was mindful of them.

We can also have that calm and confidence, regardless of current circumstances, as we become more mindfully present in our daily living. We can live a paraphrased version of the words of Gene Edwards who described mindful women and men when he said, “Beginning empty handed and alone frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is mindful of them.”

—Boyd Matheson is the opinion editor and head of strategic reach at the Deseret News