early in the morning

sunrise out my window

meditation seat

bathed in light

Sometime before Christmas I started getting up before everyone to meditate, pray, and study my scriptures.  I did a lot of research and study about meditation, what it is, how, why.  I knew I would be taking a big dive into it at my yoga teacher training, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I believed about it before I was learning from someone else.

In my study I found these quotes from David O McKay (a former prophet of my church):

We pay 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 from those who have authority to guide and instruct us. Of the two, the more profitable introspectively is the meditation. Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as “a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.” Meditation is a form of prayer. …

Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord. (You can click here to read more of President McKay’s teachings.)

He says that more than going to church, more than reading the scriptures, more than listening to people speak, it is meditaion that brings us in communion with God.  Over and over church leaders have mentioned the importance of meditation.  Over and over I’ve wondered what that really meant and where to find some kind of instruction.

So, here’s what I’ve found it to be.  It’s quiet listening.  It’s internal focus.  It’s the realization that God is IN us.  For my whole life prayer has been more like a grocery list, a rattling off of thoughts and hopes and wants and thanks.  It has been almost entirely focused on thinking.  I remember looking into meditation several years ago when my mom was reading a lot of Wayne Dyer books and feeling uneasy about the New Age emphasis on completely quieting thought in meditation.  For one thing, that seemed impossible, but also totally contradicted the way I’ve thought prayer was supposed to work throughout my whole life.

But, here’s what I’ve come to realize.  I AM NOT MY THOUGHTS.  For so long I equated what I thought with my spirit, the essential part of me, but that is not true.  Our brains do a lot of our thinking, and the natural man comes out in full force.  We get in thought patterns, habits, ruts that loop over and over which are so often negative and tell us things that are not true.  They don’t describe reality, but our internal experience is what determines the quality of our life, the happiness we experience, our ability to open to relationships.  What meditation can teach us is the difference between the chatter that constantly goes on in our heads and who we really are.  It helps us feel and experience that part of us that has always existed and is intricately connected with God.  Too often our thoughts are noisy destractions from that reality.  It is good to learn to discern them and control them effectively– to have minds that are tools rather than masters.

So, here’s what I’ve been doing.  I kneel on my comfy cushion and open with a prayer asking to be filled with Christ’s light and love.  Then I find a comfortable cross legged seat, spine tall, hands comfortable, and draw my attention to my breath.  I’ve been using the Ham Sah mantra which means “I am that,” (“that” being the soul, the spirit, the essential part that has always existed and is connected with the divine).  I silently inhale Ham and exhale Sah, feeling the sound originate at my heart center.  When I notice I’m thinking I just renew my commitment to the mantra, to my breath, to the quiet, to the internal light.  And I keep doing that until my little timer goes off.  My mind is busy more than it is quiet, but I get pockets of stillness and I do feel so much more connected to Heavenly Father.  My access to Him feels so much more real and immediate.  Then I pray about  my day and read my scriptures.

In Kundalini yoga (which is the kind of yoga practiced by Sikhs) it is strongly encouraged to wear white while you meditate.  I’m in love with that idea.  Maybe someday I’ll have to get some nice white jammies.

I have so many thoughts about things I’ve read, but I think I’ll stop here for tonight and leave you with a few links.

Mastery of Destiny by James Allen is lovely.  I’ve read As a Man Thinketh a few times.  My Life Long Learning class  last fall read it and in our discussion it came up that he had written a book about meditation (Mastery of Destiny), so I gobbled it up!

Light in the Wilderness is a book my mom suggested to me just a few weeks ago.  I’ve read it and am re-reading it.  It is full of so many insights and helps me see that this spiritual practice is essential.

This article, Mormon Mantras, also helped me realize that I’m not alone as a Mormon exploring Eastern practices to really figure out this spiritual journey.

on the longest day of the year…

One thing I love about our church is the program of Family Home Evening.  Every Monday evening we are encouraged to gather our families together to sing, pray, have a lesson, do something fun together, and eat yummy treats.  In our family we rotate who is in charge of each thing, so the kids get to teach lessons, choose songs, plan activities, and make treats.

out 'til sunset

Last night Jonah was in charge of the activity, and with it being the summer solstice he decided we needed to swim until sunset.

summer solstice

So we did.

summer solstice

We built sandcastles.

digging the moat

castle building

sand and water

Hunter learned a new word.


Goose, goooooooose…

bird, bird


After a hot day the air had cooled off, but the water was pretty warm.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

at the resevoir

I am so thankful for this tradition we so faithfully keep in our family.  Gathering 5 little ones around the piano after dinner clean-up (and all the prodding and nagging that often entails) does not always feel like the fun, or sane, thing to do after a busy Monday.  Often the treat is a hurried Tupperware full of “shaker pudding” (instant Jello pudding dumped with milk into a Tupperware and shook, shook, shook by the child in charge of treat) or graham crackers dipped in milk, but by the time we have sung together, by the time a little person has taught their lesson and shared a heart felt testimony about their love for the Savior, by the time we’ve finished honoring a child’s wish to jump on the trampoline all together or play a game of Bananagrams we go to bed happier than we could have imagined in those harried minutes of wrangling.

longest day of the year

It’s a miracle in the making…

out until sunset

one week at a time.

Happy Mothers Day!

Our little mama finch has been hard at work filling her nest in our front door wreath.  I thought it fitting on this Mother’s day to show off what this little mama is working so hard to do.

happy mothers day!

10 years ago today I became a mother.  My little tiny Brenna came into this world and completely changed mine.  In so many ways I feel like I was born when she was– I found my strength and power and purpose.  And I finally began to understand my own Mom, to love and appreciate what I just didn’t have the capacity to love and appreciate before.

So, thanks mom for being my mom.  I love and admire you so much.  I think of all the little things– ordering me cool magazines so I could draw pictures of tigers all day long, not nagging me to practice the piano, but paying for lessons anyway, tolerating my messy room, but making me do my own laundry, lining up Action Packers along the kitchen wall to pack for week long camping trips and making it look so easy and fun.  In so many ways I am trying to be just like you, and it’s funny how in so many ways I am.

Thanks to all of you mothers who come here and read my blog.  Thanks for your comments and friendship and all the good you do in your own little sphere.  There is nothing more important in this world than being a mother.  I really believe that.

wreath nest

Lest anyone get the idea that we’ve enter into organized tranquility, I thought I’d post some photos of real life here.  The big table is no longer out of reach.  As you can imagine, this really complicates things around here.

keeping it real

I hope you all had a good Easter weekend.  I love it when General Conference falls on Easter weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, I love going to church on Sundays (all 3 hours of it) but the biannual break is most welcome, and when it falls on Easter it gives even more time for thought and rest and contemplation.

I try to be really positive here on the blog, try to make it a place where I can record my successes and hopefully inspire someone else out there, but I have to admit lately that I’ve been a bit overwhelmed.  There are times and circumstances that just  make us painfully aware of our weaknesses and shortcomings– and I feel myself in that place very frequently lately.  I am doing exactly what it is I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m the mother of a large family.  I get to be with each of those little children everyday to help them learn and to try to help them discover and reach their full potential.  I’ve been blessed with a view of the big picture, of what I want to create– I might even say I’ve been called to it.  I always knew it would be hard, really hard, but there are just some things I didn’t have any clue would be this hard.  Being a parent is difficult on so many emotional and spiritual levels I didn’t even know existed.  Throw on top of that other relationships, church responsibilities, and never ending mountains of laundry and sometimes I just want to say– “Sorry, I just don’t have it in me.  This whole thing you’ve asked me to do, Lord, is way more than I’m capable of.  Is there some other way?  Can it be easier somehow?”

And this weekend I realized I’m not alone in feeling that way.  Jesus felt the same way.  He knew what it was he was called to do.  He knew the beginning from the end, the essential nature of his role in God’s eternal plan, but still he said, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42)  Somehow, even with his infinite knowledge, the weight of what he was called to bear was surprising when he was actually experiencing it– more than he thought he could endure.  But, he knew it was his role to fulfill, his feat to accomplish, and so he faithfully said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.  And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. ” (Luke 22:43)

I know what I’ve been called to do does not compare in magnitude to what the Savior did, but it is important, even essential in some sense.  And, it probably can’t be easier.  I just need to trust in his will,

and draw strength from my angel(s).

*sigh* so, so, so busy