Last week, our Silver Sneakers yoga class, with mostly
Mormon members, ended with a 20 minute meditation time while instructors
rotated the room giving shoulder rubs. Soft music played, the lights were
dim—perfect time for meditation and reflection. Within a few minutes a couple
of women on the back row started whispering. Had I been closer to them, I’d
have been tempted to ask if they thought they were in Relief Society.
Obviously, my meditation skills are too undeveloped to screen out background
distraction. After ten minutes, many others became restless. Some members quietly put away their equipment and left class to go “do something.”
Mormon culture values action over contemplation. “Lengthen
your stride” and “Do it” are heritages from Spencer W. Kimball. “An idle mind
is the devil’s workshop” and “Idle hands make mischief” may not be quoted in
church anymore, but that message is encoded in Mormon DNA as we work our way toward the celestial kingdom.
Magnifying Church callings, home teaching, visiting teaching, temple work, genealogy,welfare assignments, cleaning the building,
helping needy members with yard and housework, bringing dinners—
the list is endless. And all these tasks must be accomplished in addition to supporting and caring for a large family.
The exception to this treadmill of über-activity is the 3-hour block—
which often feels like a 9-hour block. If not teaching or leading
in one of the meetings, a member is expected to sit quietly for three hours
with only two 10-minute breaks. This could be the perfect time for Mormons to
practice meditation—unfortunately, closing the eyes in church meetings, unless
accompanied by gentle snoring, is frowned upon. Texting and internet surfing are also frowned upon, but gazing at a phone hidden in the lap is less noticeable than sitting with closed eyes,cupped hands, and serene countenance.
Other than the 15 minutes allotted to passing the sacrament on Sundays, Mormon culture allows precious little time for contemplation.
The 3-hour block was originally proposed as a way of freeing families
from weekday meetings, although Primary, YM/YW and Relief Society still hold many activities during the week. Maybe,like setting Monday nights
aside for the families, Mormons need to set aside a
time to, as the Psalm tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.”