Be Mindful

Practice of the Week
Be Mindful

Category: Supporting Practices: observances that support and expand developing spirituality.
"Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally." (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

"When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love." (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Text below adapted from Rick Hanson, Just One Thing.

The movements of information through your nervous system -- which is what I mean by "mental activity," most of which is unconscious -- can create lasting changes in brain structure:
"neurons that fire together, wire together."
In particular, this rewiring is accelerated for what's in the field of focused attention. In effect, attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain.

Since attention is largely under volitional control -- you can direct it with conscious effort -- you have an extraordinary tool at your disposal all day long to gradually sculpt your brain in positive ways. Unfortunately, most people do not have very good control of their attention: it's hard for them to rest it where they want and keep it there -- such as an important but boring meeting, or the sensations of one breath after another -- and hard to pull it away from things that aren't helpful, like senseless worry, self-critical rumination, or too much TV. The reasons include temperament (for example, anxious, spirited), personal history (for example, losses or traumas that keep them on edge), and our hyper-stimulating, ADD-ish culture.

Happily, attention is very trainable. You really can develop better control of your spotlight/vacuum cleaner. This is where mindfulness comes in—which simply means being steadily aware of something. As you practice being mindful, you will gain more control over your attention.

You could be mindful of what's around you -- perhaps key details at work, the deeper wants of your partner, flowers blooming and children smiling, or where you left the car keys. You could also be mindful of your inner world, such as soft feelings of hurt underneath brittle anger, your good intentions and basic decency, or unrealistic expectations that set you up for disappointment.

Mindfulness has lots of benefits. It brings important information about what's happening around you and inside you. It helps you witness your experience without being swept away by it, and to hold it in a larger context; as your mindful awareness increases, negative experiences have less impact on you. And the duration and intensity of what you are paying attention to tends to increase its traces in your brain. Consequently, mindfulness really helps you take in positive experiences.

To some extent, mindfulness has become associated with Buddhism, but all the world's religions and moral traditions value being mindful -- rather than mindless! Additionally, mindfulness is increasingly taught in secular settings such as hospitals, corporations, classrooms, professional sports, and military training.

Studies have shown that regular practices of mindfulness:
  • Thicken cortical layers in regions of the brain that control attention (so you get better at atten-tion itself) (Lazar et al. 2005)
  • Add neural connection in the insula, a part of the brain that supports both self-awareness and empathy for the emotions of others (Lazar et al. 2005)
  • Increase the relative activation of the left pre¬frontal cortex (behind the left side of your fore-head), which helps control and reduce negative emotions (Davidson 2004)
  • Strengthen your immune system (Davidson et al. 2003)
  • Reduce the impact of pain and accelerate post¬surgical recovery (Kabat-Zinn 2003; Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, and Burney 1985)
Pretty great for a simple method—mindfulness—that you can use, privately and effectively, anywhere you go.


Mindfulness is natural. You are already mindful of many things each day. The problem is that most of us remain mindful for only a few seconds at a time. The trick is to have more "episodes" of mindfulness, and to lengthen and deepen them.

So, set aside a minute or more every day to be deliberately mindful -- focusing on a specific object of attention (e.g., the sensations of breathing) or opening wide to whatever moves through awareness. You could extend these moments of mindfulness into a longer period of meditation, letting your mind become increasingly clear and peaceful.

Then, throughout the day, add some additional times of mindfulness when you remain stably present with whatever is happening around you and inside you. If you like, use recurring events such as meals, a telephone ringing, or walking through a doorway as reminders to be mindful.

It will support and deepen your mindfulness to bring an attitude of curiosity, openness, non-judgmental acceptance, and even a kind of friendliness to the things you're aware of. Also try to develop a background awareness of how mindful you are being; in effect, you are paying attention...to attention, in order to get better at it.

These practices will gradually train your brain to be more mindful, which will bring you many rewards. For as William James -- the first major American psychologist -- wrote over a century ago (1890, p. 424):
"The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will...An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence."
Jon Kabat-Zinn on Mindfulness (72:04):

See also: "Practice of the Week: Cultivate Minfulness" and "Practice of the Week: Mindfulness"

* * *

Music: Sun Apr 4


Is there classical piano music for Easter? Depends on the parameters. Easy enough to find arrangements and transcriptions of music connected to the holiday, in which familiar melodies trigger associations to the original words or titles. Two of this morning's selections---the Centering and Parting Music--are in fact transcriptions of religious works by J. S. Bach. For the Gathering Music and Interlude, however, I've chosen music of a more secular variety, which emphasizes the theme of regeneration after death. The third movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 12 is in fact a funeral march. It is followed by a flowing movement marked "Allegro," which seems to suggest hope and rebirth to many listeners. On a smaller scale, Beethoven's teacher Haydn evokes a solemn procession in the slow movement of his Keyboard Sonata in D Major, which links without pause into the festive energy of the Finale. Elsewhere, the CUUC Choir provides us with not one, but two (!) selections this blessed day. Read on for programming details, and stay tuned for spoken introduction to each work.


Gathering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Sonata No. 12 in Ab Major, Op. 26

            III. Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un eroe

            IV. Allegro

                        Ludwig van Beethoven


Centering Music:
Sheep May Safely Graze

                        J.S. Bach, arr. by Egon Petri


Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer

"Gaudeamus Hodie"

                        Earlene Rentz

Musical Meditation:
"Set Me As a Seal"
                                    RenĂ© Clausen


Sonata in D Major, Hob. XVI:37

            II. Largo e sostenuto

            III. Finale: Presto ma non troppo

                                      Franz Joseph Haydn


Parting Music:
Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring

            J. S. Bach, arr. by Harold Bauer


Religious Education: March 26, 2021

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
March 26, 2021
2020-2021 Religious Education (RE) theme: JUSTICE & EQUITY
Supporting our young people in understanding justice issues, articulating their values, and engaging in faith in action with CUUC Social Justice teams. Also, supporting youth in developing healthy self-esteem and relationships. 
CUUC Spring Fling for All Ages
Saturday, April 3rd

Join us for fun and community as we welcome spring! 

10:30am Grounds tours and cleanup.
12:00pm Earth Song Circle. 
12:30-2:30pm Geocaching activity, Easter treat table, games, crafts, and an introduction to the iNaturalist app. With a special appearance of the Rainbow Unicorn! That day or ahead of time, you can download the geocaching app here and the iNaturalist app here.  Bring your mask, a lawn chair, and your own bag lunch.  We are planning fun and fellowship while observing pandemic safety protocols.
Sunday, March 28
K-9th & Adult Classes Meet

 All log into Zoom room 8428 then meet in separate breakout rooms. Room 8428 (password embedded). Phone (audio only): 646-558-8656 · Meeting ID: 817 388 428 · Passcode: 468468   

K-4th class meets 11:40am-12:15pm
5th-7th & 7th-9th classes meets 11:50am-12:50pm
Parents & Caregivers class meets 12:00-1:00pm

K-4th Grade Class, 11:40am: The children are beginning a module on Our Interdependent Web and Environmental Justice leading up to Earth Day with lessons focused on awareness, interdependence, and stewardship. This Sunday, they begin with awareness. We invite the children to bring something with them to class that comes from the earth, e.g., a piece of fruit or vegetable, leaf, flower, rock, pinecone, etc.  Laura S, Nicole T, and Norm H are leading.

*Saturday, April 3rd, awareness continues at the CUUC Spring Fling with the opportunity to learn about life on our CUUC grounds using the iNaturalist app and a fun geocaching activity. 
5th-7th & 7th-9th Grade Classes, 11:50am: The two classes are combining one more time to continue their discussion about gender expression. Youth will also explore what the life-long process of coming out can look like for a person, and review resources and practices they can call on to support themselves and friends. We affirm all gender identities and sexual orientations, and support youth in making healthy choices as they explore their own authentic sense of self. Denice T, David B, and Seonaidh M are leading. 

Adult RE: Parents & Caregivers Class, 12:00pm: This is a very special class with a panel of adults sharing about their journeys of understanding and authenticity related to sexual orientation and gender identity. They will also share what it was like for them to come out to their parents or the most significant people in their lives, and the types of support they needed from them. Kate C and Jane P are leading. Classes are open to all adults, with or without youth participating, and intended to support conversations at home. We offer this material for parents and caregivers with resources, session handouts, and questions to reflect on at home. 
Read more here, including the full spring 2021 schedule.

Worship 10:00am  

~ Rev. Meredith Garmon, “Trust"
“Trust” will be our theme for April. There are good reasons not to trust in many cases. To cultivate trust will require discerning what is trustworthy, and abiding therein.
Click here to join our Sunday Worship Service 
Phone in (audio only): 646-876-9923 · Webinar: 761 321 991 · Passcode: 468468

After worship, join Virtual Coffee Hour 
Meeting: 336 956 2210 · Passcode: 468468
Connecting in Community
NEW! Murray Grove is Seeking HS Youth & Young Adult Camp Counselors 

Murray Grove, home of Universalism in the US, is looking for Counselors for Camping in the Grove and Senior Camping in the Grove this coming August.  High School students may apply for the younger camp, August 1-8 for rising 4th - 7th graders.  College age or older may apply to be counselors for Senior Camp August 8-14 for rising 8th to 10th graders.  The latter will be an adventure camp with several trips such as canoeing, the beach, a nature center, an adventure center. Click here for the staff application.
NEW! Online - Seder in Place

Fri Apr 2, 7:00pm, Zoom 7899
Passover is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday of the year. This retelling of the exodus story shares a promise of liberation for all those who are oppressed. It invites us into our best lives as we take a deep look at the stories that guide our lives, ask big questions about our world, and share bountiful and symbolic meals as we connect across ages, tables, the globe, and millennia. Join us for this reading of our online Haggadah as we celebrate Passover virtually. This is a wonderful tradition for families to share.

NEW! Reopening Committee Update

Shared March 25, 2021: With the vaccine rollout going well in the tri-state area, many of you have been wondering when we will be able to get to back to in-person services and RE. We hear you, and we know how difficult it has been to be physically separated from one another for over a year...

If conditions around the pandemic continue to improve, we will consider reopening in the early fall. Before making this determination, however, we are closely monitoring multiple factors: 

  • Daily New Cases are at or below 1 per 100,000 people per day in White Plains and closest towns

  • New infections in the area are less than .88 per already-infected person

  • Testing in the area is widespread and 3% or less of the tests are positive

  • Area hospitals have less than 50% of available ICU beds in use by Covid patients

  • If new variants or slow vaccine uptake has us moving in the wrong direction, we will follow the most conservative advice from the State and the CDC.

For those of you interested in the governance process for reopening (or other requests for access to CUUC building and property), the following summary is the policy adopted by the BoT at the outset of the pandemic: all requests for access to or reopening of CUUC buildings and property must be referred to the Reopening Committee. The evaluation and recommendations of the Reopening Committee are in turn submitted to the BoT for review and approval (or declination or other actions as deemed appropriate)... Read the full letter from the Reopening Committee here.

Below are Headings for all
Announcements and Resources

Click here for full information

Religious Education 

  • 2020-2021 Religious Education and Faith Development: Overview, Schedule & Topics, Zoom Links, RE Newsletter
  • Justice & Equity Resources 
  • Support Resources for All Ages


  • Summer 2021 UU Camp Information 
  • Story Time Every Thursday Evening 


  • NEW! Murray Grove is Seeking HS Youth & Young Adult Camp Counselors
  • Summer 2021 UU Camp Information - Registration is Open!
  • UU-UNO 2021 Spring Seminar on Climate Justice, April 9-11 
  • Center Lane’s Rainbow Squad 

Young Adults

  • NEW! Murray Grove is Seeking HS Youth & Young Adult Camp Counselors
  • UU Young Adult Network


  • NEW! Forum: Food Scrap Recycling, Sun April 11
  • NEW! March 25, 2021 Reopening Committee Update
  • NEW! Online - Seder in Place, Fri Apr 2
  • All Ages Easter Spring Fling, Sat April 3 
  • On the Journey, March: Integrity
  • CUUC Newsletter & Calendar
  • Online Sunday Worship, 10:00am 

UU LGBTQ++ Community

  • UU All Ages Transgender / Non-Binary Monthly Gatherings, 4th Tuesdays 

UU BIPOC Community 

  • BLUU Online Worship, 1st Thurs & 3rd Sat
  • UUA/Central East Region BIPOC Group, Monthly 

Local Community 

  • NY Justice Roadmap 2021
  • Donations for Grace Church 
  • White Plains Food Scrap Drop off Program 

Summer 2021 UU Camps and Activities for ALL AGES 

  • Updated! In-Person: Murray Grove, Lanoka Harbor, NJ
  • In-Person: Unirondack, Adirondacks, NY
  • In-Person: Star Island, Isle of Shoals, NH
  • Virtual & In-Person: Ferry Beach, Saco, ME
  • Virtual & In-Person: Rowe, MA
  • Virtual: SUUSI, Southeast UU Summer Institute
  • TBA: UU College of Social Justice
  • TBA: River Rising Youth Leadership
  • TBA: Sophia Fahs 
  • And links to more...
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains  
468 Rosedale Ave · White Plains, NY 10605-5419