Cwic Show- Mental Health & LDS Mindfulness with Ty Mansfield

Ty Mansfield discusses mental health and mindfulness applied to Latter-Day Saints. This episode for LDS and everyone covers depression, anxiety, and stillness as well as relationships of marriage and parenting and the difficulty of knowing others and being "known". It is based on Ty's book, The Power of Stillness, Mindful Living for Latter-Day Saints.

Book- The Power of Stillness, Mindful Living for Latter-Day Saints -


 Raw Transcript


all right ty mansfield welcome to the
quick show
uh let me give just a little bit of a
background on yourself you are a
practicing marriage and family therapist
and an adjunct instructor in religious
education at brigham young university
our topic today is on mindfulness you
have completed your undergraduate work
in asian studies which i'm guessing
may have had something to do with going
into this
topic into this field and understanding
a little bit more
um you're you've actually actively been
mindfulness for over 10 years
and you're a certified mindfulness
meditation teacher
you and your wife danielle and your five
children live in spanish fork
utah so that is our topic for this
is mindfulness and what this is the
thing that i like about this
when i read the book is is
is the idea of awareness
right it seems to me like anybody who
has uh an idea of both
self and your world around you right the
more aware we are
of ourselves and the world around us the
more we're able to progress
and and that seems to me like it's takes
a little discipline takes a little work
you have it defined here in your book
mindfulness as
paying attention in the present moment
on purpose and then
and non-judgmentally so i get the whole
being in the moment right yeah and
you know as we've heard the phrase
living on purpose
but what does it mean to to be paying
attention non-judgmentally
and why is that important uh that's a
really good question
i think very often worse where i think
we're socialized
or conditioned to relate to the world
with a lot of judgment uh we use like
even speaking
uh specifically to emotions right we say
things like
i feel good or i feel bad
right and what we you know there's no
feeling called good or
feeling called bad what we typically
mean by that is
that there's emotions that i like or
feelings that i like or feelings that i
but those terms don't speak to the value
of the experience
right so you know i could i could
i could smoke a joint and feel really
good right or in a way that i might like
the feeling but that doesn't mean it's
healthy for me and a lot of the feelings
that we call bad
are you know are productive they're
adaptive so
sadness fear anger all of those emotions
have an adaptive function and we can
respond to them
in healthy or unhealthy ways but the
emotions themselves have a purpose that
ultimately want wholeness for us and so
uh a mindfulness based approach to
working with emotions would be to get
out of judgment
to learn how to sit with even very
difficult emotions
right there's no rule you have to like
them but
but to respect and honor that that
emotions even ones we don't like have a
purpose and a function
and when we can sit with them be curious
about them
learn from them then we can respond to
them in a way that
we you know that is going to be
productive and again
adaptive so there's lots of things that
we do or you know we have we have
kind of stories and judgments and
expectations about the world and what
should be and what shouldn't be and
all of those um those narratives
are you know in some ways rooted in some
kind of of judgment so to take out of
to get out of judgment is to learn how
to just be with an ex
be with an experience in a more open
um compassionate way
okay so non-judge
give us an idea of why
mindfulness is so important i mean
you've mentioned a couple things but
why why should this be an objective for
well i came into um i came into
mindfulness through mental health so
you you'd mention asian studies in
undergrad and there was some
some experiences that i had in my
undergrad that i think
later i kind of circled back to but but
it wasn't until i
started my master's program in in
marriage and family therapy that i
i really sort of intersected with
mindfulness and um
about you know 40 maybe 40 plus years
through some work by a physician named
john kabazin
mindfulness really started to make
headway into western medicine
western mental health simply because of
the mental health benefits
and so you know learning for example
specifically with depression and anxiety
but it can
help with stress management and you know
you know eating there's
mindfulness-based approaches to eating
just working with eating disorders and
addiction and
just about everything but um
you know some of the things that foster
depression and anxiety is what we call
rehearsing and rehashing right we're in
the future
we're in the past we're not really in
the present moment
and so learning how to just be in the
and less stuck in the past less anxious
about the future
it can help a lot with with mental
health generally
but but mindfulness as a western
um in sort of our de-spiritualized
western applications
um was really rooted in in
you know a lot of eastern spiritual
practices at least in the way we
experience it in the west there's a
strong contemplative
tradition in christianity um but but the
the secularization of mindfulness really
kind of came through buddhism
but um but all of i think all of
the principles i think have a very
strong spiritual component to
uh so me and the other authors of the
all of us i think all i mean at least
two of us really kind of came through
more of a mental health
entry point the other two maybe three
with root through mental health the
other is
uh he's uh he does his professional work
is an asian studies so i think it was
more kind of
just exposure to eastern culture and
but um but as believing latter-day
saints even though we came into it from
a mental health lens i mean my worldview
my my history my experience my faith is
all latter-day saint
and practicing mindfulness as a mental
health intervention
really just uh really started to feel
transformative spiritually as well
uh when i was you know i'd go to these
meditations and i would find myself
wandering into prayer and
and those prayers were some of the
most connected most communing
um that you know that i've experienced
you know because it's easy to get into
kind of a transactional way of
doing prayer right we kind of offer our
you know we say
what we we speak to things we're
grateful for we ask for what we want and
and then that's it's not really a way of
being with god it's again a bit more
transactional so
i think mindfulness opens us
opens us up to a more a communing
with god being with god rather than just
being in our head
doing theology um and uh but also
there's a lot of mental health benefits
as well so
would you say would you say you brought
up you brought up eastern thought in
this would you say that
western thought is more based than
in our past and our future
and and eastern thought lives in the
moment more
i think western thought especially with
our enlightenment rationalist heritage
you know we're really in our heads
a lot we think about things and we study
things and
and there's certainly value to that but
i think
uh we're very cognitive and we're very
task-based and doing oriented right
and then an eastern thought they will
differentiate between a doing mode of
mind and a being
mode of mind right and we're doers
and you know and i think there's a
little bit of paradox too in
in the gospel and that you know the the
restoration started in the sacred grove
you know the beehive is one of the the
great kind of symbols of
of how we do life we're very industrious
right and we're very practical and
uh and there's a lot of value in that
right and i think it's kind of but i
think that
we can also there can be a kind of
distortion if we're only doing
all of the time you know because jesus
you know he did things he healed and he
taught and but he also took
time to retreat to just be with god in
solitude and
in the wilderness and and both of those
were were important
so you mentioned here in the book
the book by the way i don't think i
mentioned the power of stillness so
that's kind of a focus i think of
of what being uh of mindfulness is right
it's it's a stillness
mindful living for latter-day saints so
the book is is really focused on how
you're going to take stillness
mindfulness and and apply that to the
right to to living and a practical
living for latter-day saints
you quote here a couple catholic leaders
thomas keating i'm well aware of and
thomas merton
once described meditation not as a
newfangled innovation
let alone the grafting onto christianity
of an eastern practice
but rather as something that had
originally been
at the very center of christian practice
and had become lost
interesting point i mean it's
interesting because christianity really
is an eastern religion i mean
that's actually where it's founded in
did we as we moved west
and we had western thought is that is
that kind of what
maybe started pulling that away that
idea of meditation
away from uh a core practice of
yeah uh i think so i mean i think
terrell the work
you know terrell gibbons work um is
really interesting in this area he sort
of kind of traced
you know the evolution of different
strands of christian thought and you
know you have
you know the you know the as the the
church grew and you have the centers of
the church at rome and constantinople
and then
how those you know trajectories split
and then you know the western
tradition and then protestism growing
out of that and mormonism really was
birthed in a very western evangelical
protestant america
right and a lot of our religious
uh has been you know kind of a
calvinistic king james
language right and so and he's done some
really interesting work
uh particularly with his recent book all
things new rethinking
and then salvation and everything in
between he and his wife fiona both
and um and i think there's there's
something there like you know
and part of his thesis is that we're
still kind of outgrowing our protestant
and i think with president nelson's
theme of the ongoing restoration right
um i think you know my experience of our
you know early latter-day saint leaders
you know starting with joseph smith but
brigham young and john taylor there was
as much of a
feeling of the restoration being a
receptacle of truth
as it was a dispenser of truth right
that even as we're gathering
israel from you know all the four
corners of the world
there was a feeling of we're also
gathering truths from
all you know from all four corners of
the world that the things that god has
revealed to all nation kindreds tongues
and peoples
all belong to us right joseph smith he
said that you know if there's
any truth whether it belong to a baptist
or a presbyterian it's it's mormon
right that all truth is mormon and
brigham young
you know commissioned the elders of
israel to go out into the world and
every truth that you can find bring it
home to zion
right so there's this sense of uh in
this unfolding restoration
it's a gathering as much as it's a
dispensing and and
you know we you know implicit and
you know book of mormon teachings right
that god has been revealing and working
you know all nations and and all of
those truths
needs to be gathered into zion in order
for the restoration to reach a fullness
yeah that's a good point he's also uh
you know he focuses a lot kind of that
marker of of an augustinian moment
yes prior to that you find a lot of
well actually lds doctrines and and
and then that there was a lot of
shifting in fact it's interesting you
know actually
um augustine's mother actually believed
there was a father and a son and that
they were separate beings
but then he he moved to down a different
obviously but uh okay so
you have a uh
you follow this up with with thomas
keating and thomas merton here
with the idea of a latter day you quote
a latter-day saint here who teaches
mindfulness john kessler
yes and this is what this is what you
you quote with him it says i believe
that the church of jesus christ of
latter-day saints
has the potential to engender the most
meditative tradition in the world
from based on what you just said where
we're we're still kind of
in that protestant mode in many ways how
how does that happen and why would we be
in a position to
uh uh have such a profound meditative
i think um as
we integrate
you know because you know buddhism is
very um
it's very process right it's very you
know getting still
quieting being but in terms of there
being a um a revelation per se or
a kind of a personal relationship with
the deity that is guiding us
and and um i think that
you know the restoration and our
conception of god is a very personal
who wants to guide us who wants to be
with us who is parenting us actively
all the time where the spirit
you know where we're nurturing and
growing in light and truth but
both kind of growing in light but also
our this dialogic again kind of terrible
you know learning this term this
dialogic experience with god that's
something that you just don't
have in eastern tradition and um
and bringing together the best of both
right this this personal relationship
with the deity
who loves us deeply and is concerned and
is kind of leading us on this
this developmental path into godliness
with the processes
that can help us do that by being more
deeply with that god
right i think that combination of these
two pieces really engenders something
that's bigger than the sum of the parts
so for someone that is a a modern
western person like myself and i
start looking at this why how is this
going to be different to me
than this this this first thought that
comes to my mind
is this is some kind of a hippie type of
a thing because
i'm not used to this right this is a
very different
type of thought meditation i mean my
wife's tried to get me to go to yoga
you know it's like what what
why why how how do you tell somebody
how do you relay the importance because
i see the importance i do see the
importance right i understand
uh how i need to settle down more
sometimes how i need to be still
how do you relay that importance to
someone because
as a church let's be honest i mean we we
when you talk about productivity we
are we're unbelievably productive and
we're proud of that
yeah as we're we get things done
and and yet um
there's a lot of stress in the church
yeah um i think one of the things that
i think we included in the book one of
the co-authors jacob talks about this a
lot where he said that
you know as people experience kind of
faith crises or faith transition
transitions he said very often it's not
they're not rejecting the gospel
they're rejecting an impoverished
experience with it right
and i think very much if we're just in
the doing
and we're we're um you know it was
interesting actually to back up for a
about i guess it was 2005 byu
byu it was on the this the bicentennial
anniversary of
joseph smith's birth and byu and the
library of congress co-sponsored this
this uh symposium you know kind of
looking at the contribution of joseph
smith to the religious world
and douglas davies who is uh
he's a christian scholar who's been very
interested in mormonism and is friends
with a lot of latter-day saint
thinkers and leaders uh he made a
comment there that i
that stayed with me and he said that it
seems to me
that that latter-day saints tend to
less this is a bit of a rough paraphrase
but he said it seems to me that lottery
saints tend to relate
to christ less less as a kind of
uh have less of a personal relationship
and less of christ in the heart right
that's a very kind of protestant idea
but more tend to relate to christ as the
the leader of the church to which they
right then rather than having an
intimate relationship and in
many ways we have an institutional
institutionally mediated relationship
with god
right we're active in the church we go
to the temple and we do
the things we follow our church leaders
and there's certainly a place for all of
those things but if they become
uh more of a substitution for
our experience with god rather than a
facilitator and
to use the language of elder ballard uh
a scaffolding
right then we lose something we're not
ex we're not living in the power of who
god is we're just doing lots of things
and we get burned out right and so so i
think what mindfulness
and just this more this way of being
with ourselves with god with each other
it opens us up to a real kind of
and richness and that is that is really
at the heart of
a living vibrant faith as opposed to
actively doing religion right i mean we
burn out on that and there's a lot there
is a lot of spiritual burnout
that people struggle with right and and
you know you've got a lot of
active latter-day saints who struggle
with depression and anxiety and
you know and not maybe not more so than
the broad you know
uh culture but we we certainly
there are many who aren't living in the
in the fullness of i think what our
faith invites us into
and one uh one metaphor that i've always
that i've that's come to my mind from
the beginning since i started practicing
this was
in um in the book of mormon right where
the brother of jared is you know trying
to figure out what's going on with these
trying to figure out you know how to get
light and air and these sorts of things
and one of the you know when it comes to
you know god says you know figure this
out and come to me and so he
he finds these rocks and he moltens them
until they were clear as glass
and then brought them to the lord and
said will you touch them with your
what i think mindfulness and other forms
of meditation mindfulness is just one
form of meditation they're not
um is um
is this sort of clearing out it's
getting clearer about our thoughts clear
about what's going on in our inner
emotional world
and uh kind of removing the static and
the interference
and then in that clarity we come to god
and then
we seek the light and the spirit that
only he can give us
right that we can't do purely on our own
and i think again that's kind of where
these intersections of
eastern processes and some of these
spiritual practices really intersect
our uh our more personal relationship
with deity
that's a really interesting point i
think you bring up there i i
i've had these discussions before um
in regards to i haven't quite
used the same same terms there but in
terms of an institutional relationship
where a lot of times it seems in lds
we we raise up the church
yeah almost you know
almost above god in some ways in in the
sense that
as you were saying the relationship is
more with the church than it is directly
with god
and the doing of going to church
studying the scriptures
even the home things of family home
evening other things like that
all kind of get this tie to the church
in instead of an understanding of how
the church is there to support our
relationship with god and
uh i don't know i i just just from what
you're saying here it seems to me like
looking at mindfulness would be a great
to lift up your relationship with god
an institutional relationship because
it's obviously direct and in fact i was
just reading in uh uh
this this week's uh come follow me and
uh sections 30 to 36 i think it's in 30.
they're talking about how there's
there's uh it's it's talking a little
bit following up on hiram page and the
fake seer stone
and and and and it talks about the lord
uh look there's two things you need to
focus on here
and and first he says is the spirit
as far as authority for revelation
first is the spirit and then second is
those that have been
put over you right so he gives those two
distinctions there but talks about
the spirit being first and and
i i would think that mindfulness
stopping in stillness
would have a lot more to do with being
able to receive the spirit
uh um and creating a stronger
relationship with with deity
yeah yeah if i can actually share a
couple of statements with you
sure there's a statement by president uh
right where i that my favorite
encapsulates this right
and then there's a follow-up by um
lee it's interesting a lot of the the
statements by church leaders on
several of them reference president
mckay in some private teachings that he
did with quorum of the 12th and how he
you know they'll often say things like i
remember when president mckay would
emphasize the importance of meditation
but president mckay said this he said we
paid too little attention to the value
of meditation
a principle of devotion in our worship
there are two elements
one is spiritual communion arising from
our own meditation
the other instruction from others
particularly those who have authority to
guide and instruct us
of the two the more profitable
is the meditation meditation
meditation is the language of the soul
meditation is one of the most
safe most secret most sacred doors
through which we pass into
the presence presence of the lord
interesting and then one more
one more here president lee said this he
said president david o mckay
told us we don't take sufficient time
for meditation
uh quote right he said i get up early in
the morning
five o'clock when my mind is when my
mind and spirit
are clear and rested then i meditate
you can come closer to the lord than you
can imagine when you learn to meditate
let your spirits be taught by the spirit
right and that's you know kind of
speaking to what you were just saying
all of these things
are means right the end that that
the church is set up for that these that
spiritual practices
like meditation are set up for they're
not incident of themselves they're all
to nurture or to help us nurture
our relationship with god
yeah how does this fall in line with
the idea from alma for example of
praying always praying in your closets
playing here praying there and then
always having a prayer in our heart
how does that play together
um that's a good question i think the
way that i would think about that is
being present um
i think if we're if we're present in the
way that god is calling us to be present
we're always
with god regardless of what we're doing
and um this is one of the things that i
that i noticed when i first started
because when i was in texas there was
actually a buddhist
sangha that was uh near where i went to
graduate school
a buddhist was that a temple or a song
as just a community it's a
group and there was a there was a temple
in dallas and there would be monks that
would come and
kind of lead these meditations from the
dallas temple
in this particular tradition and i would
just you know because you know
especially early on like it was really
helpful to have
kind of a guided practice and be with
other people who are doing it
but a lot of it was just again just
silent and in those in those moments of
silence i would just find myself
wandering into prayer because it was the
most kind of natural place for
my for me to go when i when it's when
i'm silent
and um and
and i think if we're doing
again life right if we're doing faith
right we're always just
with god when we're with each other or
with god when we're doing our work we're
with god like and god is with us and we
just have a sense of that kind of dual
presence you know and i and i i suspect
suspect that at least to some degree
that's what alma was saying like
whatever you're doing
be with god and you know be present
without you with what you're doing but
let god be present with you in the
moment in the same way
so what about people that are afraid to
do this
you you brought up here in the book
something interesting it says
because i could see how in my own life
or and
maybe people i'm close to i've seen this
you say some find more silence and
terrifying even painful
and then as counter-intuitive as it
might sound
turning toward whatever is here even if
it's scary or bothersome or
is the beginning of deeper calm and
stability and it's what we would propose
as the first most basic step
toward finding more internal quiet and
what do you mean by that
very often in our western way of
doing life we're active
and busy as a way of sort of as
sometimes i sometimes as escaping we're
escaping reality
right where um in in chinese the word
for busy
means death or loss of heart or heart
and the word for mindfulness it means to
bring the heart into the present
and um a year or two ago
i guess it would have been it was
pre-covered so about two years ago jacob
and i
were uh facilitated in capacity one of
the other co-authors we were
there's a 12-week um 9-12 week an
eight-week program called
mindfulness-based stress reduction that
was developed by
john kabazin who i mentioned earlier and
one of the
one of the men who was uh participating
i mean this was a gentleman who had you
know uh works for the church he's was
had been a mission president and as we
talked about being in the moment and
kind of being
with your thoughts and he made a comment
he said you know i don't want to be with
my thoughts he's like i've spent most of
my life running from my thoughts
right and here and he had hit a lot of
trauma as a child and just
kind of engaged the you know the work of
the church as a way of kind of escaping
that and you know i think his certainly
i think his faith was very sincere and
he's a very spiritually mature person
and at the same time it was terrifying
to him
to slow down enough for some of his past
and his history
and all of that to kind of catch up with
and i think there's a vulnerability
in being real uh i think sometimes
what do you mean by that what do you
mean being real
maybe let me use an example i think one
of the things we don't talk about in the
book but i'm
working on another book within with a
colleague on the integration of
and spirituality we're talking about
kind of the way
couples do relationship and there's a
there's sort of a bit of a paradox and a
tension between what we call
between role-oriented relationships or
what we're calling role-oriented
relationships with
um intimacy oriented relationships
and they both have a place so it's not
like a competition you know it's you
there is a you know when when spouses
kind of define certain roles within the
relationship and they negotiate those
and it keeps the house moving and
you know he's working and you know
helping provide and she's taking care of
kids or how are those roles get
negotiated it's it there's there's a
structure and there's a
um it's it's helpful to have sort of
defined roles
but i in a in a marital therapy context
i work with a lot of people who have
kind of
mastered their roles and they don't know
how to be with each other
um you know there's like like there's uh
they each have a persona toward each
other kind of and it's
it's not you're saying is that the
persona that's different from
the real person it can be that but
there's also sort of a way of doing
life where um it's just comfortable when
you're doing what you're supposed to be
doing and you can kind of
relax into that um but it's a do it's
just doing
right there's one couple they both
and this is a couple they both have kind
of significant callings in their stake
and they both um they're just marrying
off their last child
and you know they they've really i mean
they're both kind of remarkable
humans in terms of what they do and what
they've accomplished
but the last time they actually really
looked each other in the
eye and you know just sat with each
like you know every time we have a you
know he's mentioned that every time they
have a marital
you know therapy session right his
anxiety goes up he's like i just don't
i'm just comfortable in kind of living
out our roles like i
don't really want you know it's just
scary to kind of be with each other
this is a bit of an extreme example but
i think even in the church i think we're
more comfortable
with roles than we are actually being
with each other
right um and you know we have we have
callings and as long as you're doing
your callings you know we're all coming
we're kind of satisfied but to actually
be with each other and
sit with each other in more vulnerable
ways you know in in our
discussions with each other um or sorry
like class discussions right we
you know we have the right answers but
you know we don't people aren't
typically very revealing um about what's
going on in their lives and yet we
hunger for a real kind of
intimacy of of seeing and being seen and
knowing and being known
and there was a couple few weeks ago i
did a
i was invited to present a workshop but
it was a state-sponsored
workshop uh on kind of helping
you know people who had been struggling
with addiction or you know various
various things there was a lot of kind
of when there's been infidelity and
and the state president was just very
kind of forward thinking and
um in in creating this and in the this
this day-long stig-sponsored worship
or not workshop workshop they had
it was more what it was better attended
than their previous state conference
right there was there was something
about it was really beautiful where i
mean there were couples that were
sharing their experiences and they were
there to support each other
and it just felt like you know we're
kind of hungering for something that
feels more real
rather than just interacting in very
well governed ways where
we don't actually have to be with each
other and we don't have to be very
vulnerable that
you know things the the relationships
work and church callings we're all kind
of functioning with each other
so anyway i think i think we are we
hunger for a kind of intimacy
we want to um one one christian writer
he said it this way he said to be loved
but not known
is sweet but superficial but to be known
and not loved
is our greatest fear and this is
interesting so in other words the fear
is to be known
yeah right because you want to be loved
because you want to be loved and so the
fear is
i mean obviously that's in in a marriage
especially i mean that's like the lab
right there
of of that is how much is my spouse
you know as as it says in the movie meet
joe black you know
why are you still together why do you
love each other and and he
the answer he gives is because she knows
the worst thing about me
and she still loves me yeah yeah
and and marriage is a crucible right
this is where we practice this
but i work with so many so many
individuals and so many couples where
they don't they're not willing to let
their spouse really know them
because they're they're afraid of
rejection or
um they don't you know they're kind of
afraid of the judgment that's gonna come
right there and so we hunger for it
right because i think we're wired to
hunger for that kind of intimacy it's
our spiritual birthright and yet we're
scared to death of it
we're scared to death of not receiving
it so we will
we'll kind of play it safe in a lot of
our relationships whether that be a
marriage or in our church callings
um i think even even in the the early
history of the church you know joseph
you know this kind of this idea of being
you know calling each other brother and
right it was brother brigham and brother
joseph and this idea was meant to
facilitate a kind of intimacy
and yet we often talk you know brother
smith and brother young and sister
johnson i mean we use it to kind of
maintain a kind of hierarchy and
more than fostering a real kind of
interest i mean i'll i'll let people
know me a little bit here i don't like
it anymore
i don't like it honestly i it's so
formal to me
yeah i i don't know
there aren't many churches because you
know everybody used to do that it's not
just the latter day saints that did that
yeah everybody in the 19th century used
to do that
but you know being i think being pulled
out of society and moving to utah and
excluded kind of uh created a culture
there where we just kind of kept
held that on and maybe it's the right
thing and i don't understand it but
it is very formal yeah so well the idea
is that we won in msc
right we want that connection and
we often will default to things that
kind of keep us in
hierarchy and roles and structure
because it's safe
yeah yeah that makes sense so talking
about knowing here
you've got a couple chapters here that i
i was very interested maybe the most
of all the book here and it is about
knowing right one of them is
knowing seeing things as they are
and what what what what do you mean
by that again i think you're talking
what how does knowing as you as you as
you put it here
what does that have to do with seeing
things as they really
are or as they are yeah
uh we touched on a number of things
there i think probably one of the things
that is
kind of central to me is uh it comes
back to this kind of judgment and story
like we live
in a world of stories right we see the
world as we don't see the world as it
really is we see the world as we really
right and and we have these narratives
and stories through which we
you know understand and interpret the
world and that
feels safe to us right uh even if it's
we want we want a narrative to give
a frame right so for example like a
who doesn't understand why his parent
his or her parents are getting divorced
even though it's painful to think it's
my fault
right they're getting divorced because
of me i did something wrong
it's it's easier or it's less painful
than not knowing right not having any
for why their parents are getting
divorced and so
you know our brains are wired for
narrative and and sometimes
god doesn't you know you know god has
told us very clearly that my thoughts
are not your thoughts and my ways or not
your ways
and so to to trust a god who
kind of operates outside of our
our ways you know the ways of you know
the things that we personally understand
and can comprehend and
um that's it's hard and it's vulnerable
when when things don't make sense or
as you know i was listening to just
earlier today that elder renlund's talk
again from this
last general conference about things
being unfair right
and the um and i think it's it's hard to
live in a world where things are unfair
where we don't understand and yet
one of the one of the kind of the
principles of of mindfulness is
it's sort of beginning with with what we
call beginner's mind or a not knowing
stance right where
we have thoughts and we tell ourselves
stories but we also have to kind of
that these um
these are our um you know that there's a
difference between what is real and what
is true
right and our thoughts and our stories
give us a way of comprehending the world
and of kind of comprehending other
but um but to surrender those and to
really sort of be
in order to in order to really know
things we have to open ourselves up to
not knowing
and really being comfortable with not
and moving into the chaos a little bit
yeah yeah
so because i mean the savior taught in
stories right so i mean
it's certainly a way of communicating
and maybe it's a first step of
something right and okay this gives me
the idea i'm comfortable with a story i
understand it it can apply to certain
several different layers and and breadth
etc but uh
maybe that's more up to me then to to to
apply that and see the realities of
where that story leads
yeah yeah and letting god
not you know that god is you know the
longer i live you know i
the less i believe in platitudes you
know very often we have these kind of
formulas through which god
operates and if you do this and this and
this god's going to do this and
i i think it helps us to understand god
in some ways but
the longer i live the more i just i
don't think god is violating those
formulas all the time right and he just
operates in a much bigger frame and so
to just
learn how to surrender and just trust
god when we don't understand him is
and that's part of knowing as much as
not knowing is as much is as important
as knowing
so here's what you say in the book
recognizing thoughts as
thoughts rather than an indicator of
or self which is along the lines of what
you were saying
can provide assurance because you're
saying how
scary this can be but it says it can
provide assurance and clarity
in the often challenging journey of
seeking to discern
truth so to me that's based on what
you've said here and on this statement
truth can be a little scary right i mean
it's it's if you really want the truth
you've got to step into it a little bit
and we have to be willing to surrender
the things that are familiar to us and
feel safe to us
but may not be true
the status quo a little bit i'm yeah
okay does this apply to feelings as well
yeah yeah okay so i mean central to this
is that
you know our the thing that is truly us
is our awareness
right a central tenet of of these
practices is that
i am not my thoughts and i am not my
emotions i have feelings
and i observe my feelings but my
feelings are not me
and my thoughts are not me you know
kind of a metaphor is that we're kind of
we're the sky
right and and our thoughts and our
emotions are kind of the weather and
they're always shifting and changing and
we can observe them
right but they are not us so that goes
right to agency
of course yeah then along with the
awareness agency so so someone says
i'm a miserable person or you're a
miserable person
based on what you're saying that's
really not true
you're a person with miserable thoughts
and feelings
yeah right okay
all right um there's an identity that's
inherent in that too
okay right and in a culture that we live
in that's very that's all about identity
both positive and negative right it's we
it's getting it's sort of
d disidentifying right i'm not just an
angry person
i felt a lot of anger in my life and i
want to understand like why have i felt
so much anger where does that come from
and what is the root of that
the the anger is not me but i there may
have been a lot of anger that i have
experienced so i need to
once i get underneath that and
understand that you know there could
a lot of that grows out of a lot of pain
or a lot you know there's a number of
things but
but we have to disidentify with the
experience in order to just
understand the experience and get
curious about it as something other than
so would that relate to uh being created
in the image of god
in some sense in other words
the awareness and the agency is the core
part of
that image of god then right i mean if
because we talked a lot about the plan
of happiness right or
the joy of the white fruit of the tree
of life
there but that's again i mean if you're
separating those things
that's not us that's what we
can have right but it's not
us really i think it seems to me like in
the image of god then is
is if you're separating those things out
it is that awareness and it is that
that agency yeah that separates
from our thoughts and and from our from
our feelings
yeah yeah and to take it even further we
could say you know i'm not my body
you know i we often identify with our
bodies right we
but or you know from a theological
right my spirit is has come to this time
and space
and inhabits this body for this period
of time for for a very specific
purpose that is divinely ordained but we
can get pretty attached to these bodies
right and that attachment can create
suffering and you know and that's you
know whether it's
you know feeling shame about my body or
just you know not being able to separate
the fact that
this is not who i am this body isn't who
am it's just this tabernacle that i make
that i'm
inhabiting as a divine you know tutorial
during this kind of fall and learning
uh that that can there can be a lot of
freedom and understanding that
my body is not me it's just uh it's a
it's a
tabernacle that i'm inhabiting it seems
to me like also if you're saying that
that you know and again if i separate my
body from
my awareness my agency my spirit my
as well are separated my feelings as
well is separated
it gives me a better approach to saying
you know which is really the purpose of
our mortality i think is to control
or master all three of those things
right if i am my thoughts how am i
supposed to master what's already me
yeah yeah yeah if i'm supposed to master
my body
if i'm supposed to you know and and be
like god
follow his example then that's pretty
hard to do that if i feel like
all three of those things are already me
we have power to affect our relationship
with those things
i can change my relationship to my body
i might not be able to change my body
uh but i can change my relationship to
my body i can change my relationship to
my emotions i can change my relationship
to my thoughts
and have a much more powerful
relationship and one that
um uh
is one in which i can exercise to come
back to your comment about agency right
i can
exercise my agency in that relationship
differently when i understand that it's
something i'm in relationship with
rather than being
hit that makes a lot of sense that makes
a lot of sense how does this apply to
scripture study how would mindfulness be
a an important element of someone
studying the scriptures
um i would say some things
as with anything you could say the same
thing about the temple you could say
um the sacrament or any kind of ritual
that we do
it's being with the word of god
we're not just reading words because
again we're very often in our heads
and we're thinking about things
cognitively rather than just being with
these ideas or words and so as you're
you know feasting upon the word rather
than just reading the scriptures
we're kind of sitting with ideas we're
sitting with
phrases we're sitting with words we're
meditating on those things and kind of
opening ourselves up to
you know what might god teach me about
himself allowing this to be again a
to an end rather than an engine of
um but in a in a more present way
uh you know because i you know for a lot
of my life
you know reading scriptures was just
something you got through right so i
could put in my time and
check it off right uh whether that was
15 minutes or a chapter a day or
whatever it was
uh checking the box has never led to any
spiritual growth
so so thinking of being with god
through the scriptures and
again a present contemplative open
compassionate way right is is uh i think
there's more space for god to reveal
himself there
yeah okay so taking that a step further
you've got uh
as far as the gospel and and and
understanding of its principles and the
church itself as well
you've got to quote here from lao tzu
which is do you have the patience to
wait till your mud
settles and the water is clear
can you remain unmoving till the right
action arises by itself
how would mindfulness help
someone going through a faith crisis
these are great questions um
recognizing i mean i think we i think we
have to be very humble about what we
know and what we don't know
ourselves i mean collectively but but
and recognizing that we can have certain
thoughts or have certain questions that
arise but
seeing that as part of an experience
that's impermanent
you know in in you know eastern
traditions buddhism you know
impermanence is one of the great
it's kind of one of the preeminent laws
right it's
if it's a good day today it's going to
rain tomorrow and if it's raining today
the sun's going to come out again and
the weather is always shifting so
recognizing that
the moment that we're in is not the
all-defining moment
that um that things will change and we
might be experiencing some doubts we
might feel really distant from god in
the moment or
some questions may have arisen that have
meaning to us or feel particularly
relevant or frustrating or curious or
whatever at this moment in time
all of that's going to change and so we
have to hold all of our experience
with a real humility that
whatever we think we know in any given
moment is
just what we think we know in that
moment and that god is going to continue
to reveal
to us and i think uh that things will
over time uh you know i think i don't
know that i've ever had a
faith crisis in the sense of like a
testimony crisis but i very much had an
existential crisis where i just felt
like god had completely abandoned me and
nothing made sense all the rules that i
thought i was operating by
uh just were shattered and god wasn't
operating according to any of the things
that i thought were supposed to be
and it was a real crisis of
um i didn't know how to make sense of
the world anymore
and so you know and it
but that but when i look back at that
and it felt so defining in that moment
uh when i look back i mean it feels like
a blip right in the broader scheme of
all of the things
and the experiences that i've had
feeling close to god feeling distant
from god
feeling like i knew and then feeling
like i didn't know i mean
i think god kind of emerges through the
whole of it and we just have to be very
careful not to get too
not to push too much weight in any given
and and just kind of hold it all with an
openness and a humility
uh maybe more so than we're typically
prone to do yeah
the knowing is very interesting to me
you know jeremiah talks about
you know it with the new covenant that
they will know me
being god and i will know them yeah
which is a very uh
you know what does that really mean you
know what is he saying
but i think it's along the lines of what
what you guys talk about in
in this book one of the chapters you
have also has to do with knowing which
being together seeing as we are seen
and knowing as we are known right so
going back to the knowing again
what what are you getting at with this
right i mean
what do you mean being seen as or seeing
as we are seen
so this is one of those things that's
like um
i think about all the time and um
the the idea and the way that i
conceptualize the gospel and i think
that one of the things that is so unique
lottery saint theology
is that it's rooted in relationship and
that phrase comes from dnc 76 where
joseph and sydney have this vision of
the celestial world
and it's and this is before any theology
of marriage is
um revealed right i mean there's
uh it's just this is about the sociality
of heaven the church of the firstborn
that it's a quality of relationship
where we see as we are seen and know as
we are known infinitely
and if we were to begin to bring in
ideas from john that that
if god is love and we are becoming
beings of love then
we there's a quality of loving and being
loved that is more profound than
anything we will ever experience
in this earth in any relationship that
we're in and it's collective
it's not just about marriage and so
being with each other
and sitting with each other knowing each
other fully
and loving each other fully and seeing
you know being seen
being known and being loved this this
intimacy this
is kind of this is what i mean when i
say role oriented versus intimacy
the the latin root of intimacy is
intimate intimacy
and that that's to to um to let you into
my innermost parts right and when you
let me into my your innermost parts
then we have a relationship of intimacy
of seeing and being seen
knowing and being known and and this is
something that i think
is hard for us uh to do you know
jacob again he uh his his mother passed
away from
cancer and one of the things um
that she said before she passed away was
that you know very often
people would come uh to kind of comfort
but they were you know they're it was
kind of awkward they didn't know what to
so they wouldn't say they didn't want to
say the wrong thing so they wouldn't say
anything and
you know it just it they they didn't
know how to just be with her
and she said i found myself needing you
know kind of comforting the people that
were there to come for me and it was
just exhausting like i didn't have it in
and um and i think this idea of seeing
it being seen there's a
a catholic writer that captures this
a bit as well i want to read see if i
can find this really quickly because i
think he captures
where we where we kind of i think we
ultimately want
to go with or what this means for all of
us and it's kind of in the it's in the
in the the spirit of learning how to be
and he said it this way he said let us
not underestimate how hard it is to be
compassion is hard because it requires
the inner disposition
to go with others where they are weak
vulnerable lonely and broken
but this is not our spontaneous response
to suffering
what we desire most is to do away with
by fleeing from it or finding a quick
cure for it
as busy active relevant ministers we
want to earn our bread by making a real
contribution this means
first and foremost doing something that
shows that our presence makes a
difference and so we ignore our greatest
which is our ability to enter into this
into solidarity with those who suffer
those who can sit in silence with their
fellow men not knowing what to say but
knowing that they should be there can
bring new life to a dying heart
and this is you know coming back to this
early comment about that's vulnerable
it's vulnerable to not know what to say
or to not have the answer or to have
something that can't just be fixed
when we want to fix it you know to be
with challenges to be with suffering
it's hard it's vulnerable and so we'd
rather just
you know go make a casserole than you
something that we feel like we can do
and that we have control over
rather than just be with somebody in a
very vulnerable place you know
and so and i think this this quality of
eternal relationship
is something that we that god is
inviting us to practice in
all of our relationships uh learning how
to experience
deeper intimacy uh with each other all
the time
uh obviously something that we you know
in marriage
you know with that's a uh something we
kind of think of as marriage and you
when we use the word intimacy as a
euphemism for sex it's like well sex is
sex and intimacy become kind of one and
the same
and i think we do a huge disservice to
and to the idea of intimacy when we when
we equate it with sex
right and certainly in marriages it's
it's one context in which we practice
intimacy with other humans but i think
uh in to really learn how to be with
each other without having to do anything
is something that uh is a it's a
spiritual practice on its own
how different are we
compared to what we think we are in
other words
you're talking about seeing as we are
seen so if that is that being seen by
or is that being seen by those around us
and how different is our idea of self
compared to the persona or or
what what other people think about us is
that something you work with in your
all the time i mean you know because a
lot of our thoughts you know when i work
with people who have
you know we're working with core beliefs
you know you know
you know as people have you know they
struggle with depression you know one of
kind of the key uh models of therapy
that helps people work through
depression is what's called cognitive
behavioral therapy but it's getting in
and understanding
our thoughts and where our thoughts are
distorted and and very often
as you get in and you ask people to kind
of talk about what their core beliefs
are right that have shaped their world
they're really rough and they're shaped
by experiences so they're understandable
in the context of the experiences that
they've had but
but very often the the conception that
people have of themselves
is so different than how other people
see them or how i see them in that
moment and
and when it's a really negative kind of
a shame based
you know it's really painful it's hard
to see people
uh live in a world that is so
uh where their sense of self is so
right and and very often i've had the
thought and sometimes i've even said it
where i'm like i
really i look forward to the day when
you can see yourself the way other
people see you
right and and really believe that
they're lovable right
and that they're or likable or just you
know that they
are capable or strong or those kinds of
things when their inner world and the
narratives in which they live are so
so it seems like awareness then
is necessary to understand what others
might think about you
right and and how they know you
and and if you're able to uh
know them the way they know you that
that that seems to me to be a uh
that seems to me just to be based on
right there's a truth in the middle
there somewhere
that you're probably afraid of of moving
yeah uh getting outside of our own
experience yeah actually
there's a kind of safety and familiarity
um and very often we'll opt for the
familiar you know this is this is true
you know i've done some work with where
there's been intimate partner violence
and sometimes it's hard to get a woman
out of an abusive relationship
uh because it's familiar and it might be
but it's a pain that they know and and
feel like it's familiar they can deal
with it where to leave that relationship
very vulnerable it's the unknown and
that feels
the unknown is scary yeah and so we'll
stick with what's familiar very often
before we
will risk kind of stepping into the
so to finalize here what would you
to people to try and grow in mindfulness
and and awareness what does somebody
need to start with
in order to become more aware and
to slow down to enjoy some stillness
you know look toward the truth a little
bit more
so the thing with mindfulness and the
thing that really differentiates it from
other forms of meditation
um and and the you know the word
meditation is really
uh you know kind of to use as an analogy
right meditation is like athletics right
it's a genre and there are lots of
different sports and different kinds of
sports that might you know
utilize different skill sets and build
different skill sets
and mindfulness is one form of
and it's a form of meditation and one of
the reasons that i think it's made such
inroads in the west is that it is very
accessible you know you're not just kind
of sitting on a mountain top humming
mantras at the lotus position
right you can you can eat mindfully you
be with a person mindfully like right as
we're having this conversation right
am i fully with you or am i thinking
about what all the other things that i
need to
be doing tonight right or you know
you can be you know parenting mindfully
where you're just being fully present
with your kids
you know one of the one of the things
that often people will talk about when
they're talking about kind of
kind of pain points in their family of
origin very often
i'll hear people say something like i
never really felt seen as a child i just
kind of felt like i was being managed
all the time
and and very often that's what parents
are doing and and again as a parent i
get right i mean kids i mean there's
so much going on and it's just you're
managing things all the time
and very often in all of the managing
that we're doing we're not really seeing
our kids
and we're not really communicating them
to them or seeing them in a way that
they're at least feeling
seen and feeling understood and um
and often we're kind of dismissive of
their feelings right you know they're
sad and it's like i'll be fine right
and and so practicing
mindfulness with our children is being
fully present with them when they're
feeling sad you know really getting down
with them and
being with them in their sadness and
talking with them you know tell me what
that's like for you or whatever that is
or being with our spouse in a mindful
way you know just
you know very often you know you know
uh couples you know when they're on
their you know they have their
they're committed to their date night
but they spend a lot of their date night
on their cell phones you know
and so you know they might be physically
with each other but they're not present
with each other when they're kind of
sitting on their phones and so that's
the kind of thing i mean you can just
mindfulness to be you know going on your
date night mindfully
is you know when you're with each other
put down your phones and really just
look at each other
and be with each other and be open and
curious right about
about the other and where you can be you
know taking the sacrament mindfully
being fully present with the words of
the sacrament prayers and
so anything that you do which by the way
both all those prayers ask us to
remember right they're both calling for
an awareness
yeah in those prayers yeah and john
cabot zen in his first book uh
this was the book first book i ever read
it was called full catastrophe living
he has this kind of section on when he
talks about the word remember
right and we think of remembering as a
cognitive exercise typically
right i recall something but he said the
word you know to be a member of
something is to be a part of something
to be connected to it to be in it
and to remember is to reconnect
to read you know to become a part of
again when we've
disconnected so to remember
christ is to remember myself to christ
not just to recall him in my mind right
to remember myself to the feeling of the
right to the feeling or to remember
myself to god by being with god
so i think this whole idea of
remembering you know if we unpack that
there's so many different ways in which
the gospel is calling us to
reconnect ourselves to spiritual things
every moment the book then is the power
of stillness
mindful living for latter-day saints it
is written by jacob hess
kerry scarda kyle anderson
and our guest here ty mansfield so
i would advise the audience to go out
and take a look at that
and uh incorporate some of this it's a
very interesting book and i think it's
very applicable for
a modern western member of the church
so ty thank you so much for taking the
time and
and uh being mindful of us and uh
aware of what you uh what you do and how
it might apply to ourselves
thank you it's a pleasure to be here

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