Music & the Spoken Word: Mindfulness matters

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music & the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, July 11, 2021.

As big as this world is, it can sometimes feel crowded. Not crowded with people, but crowded with facts and opinions, with tasks and demands. Sometimes the hectic pace of life doesn’t leave us much time to process the experiences that bombard us. As a result, we can feel trapped — like we’ve been hurried onto a high-speed train before we have time to find out where it’s going.

What we need is space. Not necessarily physical space, but mental space — space for our own thoughts and feelings. Life is not likely to give it to us; we have to create it intentionally. Mental health professionals call this mindfulness: the practice of slowing down to ponder and think and evaluate our experiences. It’s like pressing a pause button, so that instead of mindlessly reacting to life, we can mindfully respond to it.

An unknown author put it this way: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” (see “First Things First: To Live, To Love, To Learn, To Leave a Legacy,” by Steven R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill, published in 1994, page 59).

We don’t have to act on instinct. We can decide what matters to us. We can align our actions with our values. And as we do, we determine where we are going and who we are becoming.

A young man decided to take time each day to “unplug,” to set his devices down and listen to his thoughts and feelings. It helped him in many unexpected ways. While walking to an appointment, he took out his earbuds and listened to nature’s softer sounds. He felt more calm and confident. While doing dishes and folding laundry, he turned off the television and the music and listened, for a while, to his own thoughts. By stopping the steady flow of information and stimuli, even for a few minutes, he felt more peaceful, more joyful.

When we slow down, we find peace and joy because we find God. We can hear more than just our own thoughts —we can hear His voice. He is found, most often, in that quiet space we create between the world and ourselves. In the words of the psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In stillness, we find the divinity within us and the God who loves us.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages