Music: Sun Oct 3


Compared with the music of his illustrious predecessors of the Viennese Classical movement, the music of Franz Schubert seems to wander. Where Haydn delights in springing surprises, Schubert allows himself to be surprised; where Beethoven illuminates a path through chaos, Schubert is our brother in life's mysteries. His harmonies fill us with wonder at every turn--our feet never stay grounded very long in any one key; episodes in major modes are mirages, shielding us only fleetingly from the darkening shadows without. Read on for programming details, stay tuned for spoken introductions, and mark Sunday November 14th at 2:30 pm for a Schubertiade concert at CUUC by Music Director Adam Kent.


Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano

Valse sentimentale in A Major, D. 779, No. 13

                                                Franz Schubert


Opening Music:
Moment Musical in C Major, Op. 94, No. 1



Moment Musical in Ab Major, Op. 94, No. 2

Sonata in Bb Major, Op. Posth.

            Scherzo: Allegro vivace con delicatezza


Parting Music: Moment Musical in F Minor, Op. 94, No. 3



Practice of the Week

Category: This is one of the Three Core Daily Practices. In addition to your chosen spiritual practice, every day devote 10-30 mins to each of the three core daily practices (meditation, journaling, and study).

"Dedicating some time to meditation is a meaningful expression of caring for yourself that can help you move through the mire of feeling unworthy of recovery. As your mind grows quieter and more spacious, you can begin to see self-defeating thought patterns for what they are, and open up to other, more positive options." -Sharon Salzberg

Why to Meditate

From: "Benefits of Meditation," artofliving.org (original: HERE)

Physical Benefits of Meditation

With meditation, the physiology undergoes a change and every cell in the body is filled with more prana (energy). This results in joy, peace, enthusiasm as the level of prana in the body increases.

On a physical level, meditation:
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
  • Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
  • Improves the immune system
  • Increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy
Mental Benefits of Meditation

Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an Alpha state that promotes healing. The mind becomes fresh, delicate and beautiful. With regular practice of meditation:
  • Anxiety decreases
  • Emotional stability improves
  • Creativity increases
  • Happiness increases
  • Intuition develops
  • Gain clarity and peace of mind
  • Problems become smaller
  • Meditation sharpens the mind by gaining focus and expands through relaxation
  • A sharp mind without expansion causes tension, anger and frustration
  • An expanded consciousness without sharpness can lead to lack of action/progress
  • The balance of a sharp mind and an expanded consciousness brings perfection
Meditation makes you aware - that your inner attitude determines your happiness.

Other Benefits of Meditation
  • Emotional steadiness and harmony. It cleanses and nourishes you from within and calms you, whenever you feel overwhelmed, unstable, or emotionally shut down.
  • Meditation brings harmony in creation. When you meditate, you are in the space of vastness, calmness and joy and this is what you emit into the environment, bringing harmony to the Creation/planet.
  • Personal Transformation. Meditation can bring about a true personal transformation. As you learn more about yourself, you’ll naturally start discovering more about yourself
How To Get The Benefits

To experience the benefits of meditation, regular practice is necessary. It takes only a few minutes every day. Once imbibed into the daily routine, meditation becomes the best part of your day!

Meditation is like a seed. When you cultivate a seed with love, the more it blossoms.

Busy people from all backgrounds are grateful to pause and enjoy a refreshing few minutes of meditation each day. Dive deep into yourself and enrich your life.

* * *

Adapted from: Belle Beth Cooper, "What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How It Benefits You)," Lifehacker.com (full original: HERE.)

I’ve found how simple (not easy, but simple) meditation can be and what huge benefit it can have for my day to day happiness.

As an adult, I first started my meditation practice with just two minutes per day. Two minutes! I got that idea from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog, where he points out how starting with a tiny habit is the first step to consistently achieving it. So even thought two minutes won’t make much difference, that’s where I started.

What is Meditation?

There are different ways to meditate. Scientific research tends to focus on two:

Focused-attention, or mindful meditation, which is where you focus on one specific thing—it could be your breathing, a sensation in your body or a particular object outside of you. The point of this type of meditation is to focus strongly on one point and continually bring your attention back to that focal point when it wanders.

The other type of meditation that’s often used in research is open-monitoring meditation. This is where you pay attention to all of the things happening around you—you simply notice everything without reacting.

What Happens in Your Brain When You Meditate

This is where things get really interesting. Using modern technology like fMRI scans, scientists have developed a more thorough understanding of what’s taking place in our brains when we meditate. The overall difference is that our brains stop processing information as actively as they normally would. We start to show a decrease in beta waves, which indicate that our brains are processing information, even after a single 20-minute meditation session if we’ve never tried it before.

In the image below you can see how the beta waves (shown in bright colors on the left) are dramatically reduced during meditation (on the right).

What happens in each part of the brain during meditation:
  • Frontal lobe. This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline.
  • Parietal lobe. This part of the brain processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space. During meditation, activity in the parietal lobe slows down.
  • Thalamus. The gatekeeper for the senses, this organ focuses your attention by funneling some sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.
  • Reticular formation. As the brain’s sentry, this structure receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.
How Meditation Affects You

Now that we know what’s going on inside our brains, let’s take a look at the research into the ways it affects our health.
  • Better Focus. Because meditation is a practice in focusing our attention and being aware of when it drifts, this actually improves our focus when we’re not meditating, as well. It’s a lasting effect that comes from regular bouts of meditation.
  • Less Anxiety. This point is pretty technical, but it’s really interesting. The more we meditate, the less anxiety we have, and it turns out this is because we're actually loosening the connections of particular neural pathways. This sounds bad, but it’s not. What happens without meditation is that there’s a section of our brains that’s sometimes called the Me Center (it’s technically the medial prefrontal cortex). This is the part that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences. Normally the neural pathways from the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain to the Me Center are really strong. When you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong reaction in your Me Center, making you feel scared and under attack. When we meditate, we weaken this neural connection. This means that we don’t react as strongly to sensations that might have once lit up our Me Centers. As we weaken this connection, we simultaneously strengthen the connection between what’s known as our Assessment Center (the part of our brains known for reasoning) and our bodily sensation and fear centers. So when we experience scary or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally. For example, when you experience pain, rather than becoming anxious and assuming it means something is wrong with you, you can watch the pain rise and fall without becoming ensnared in a story about what it might mean.
  • More Creativity. As a writer, this is one thing I’m always interested in. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest thing to study, but there is some research into how meditation can affect our creativity. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands studied both focused-attention and open-monitoring mediation to see if there was any improvement in creativity afterwards. They found that people who practiced focused-attention meditation did not show any obvious signs of improvement in the creativity task following their meditation. For those who did open-monitoring meditation, however, they performed better on a task that asked them to come up with new ideas.
  • More Compassion. Research on meditation has shown that empathy and compassion are higher in those who practice meditation regularly. One experiment showed participants images of other people that were either good, bad or neutral in what they called “compassion meditation.” The participants were able to focus their attention and reduce their emotional reactions to these images, even when they weren’t in a meditative state. They also experienced more compassion for others when shown disturbing images. Part of this comes from activity in the amygdala—the part of the brain that processes emotional stimuli. During meditation, this part of the brain normally shows decreased activity, but in this experiment it was exceptionally responsive when participants were shown images of people. Another study in 2008 found that people who meditated regularly had stronger activation levels in their temporal parietal junctures (a part of the brain tied to empathy) when they heard the sounds of people suffering, than those who didn’t meditate.
  • Better Memory. One of the things meditation has been linked to is improving rapid memory recall. Catherine Kerr, a researcher at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center found that people who practiced mindful meditation were able to adjust the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity more quickly that those that did not meditate. She said that this ability to ignore distractions could explain “their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.” This seems to be very similar to the power of being exposed to new situations that will also dramatically improve our memory of things.
  • Less Stress. Mindful meditation has been shown to help people perform under pressure while feeling less stressed. A 2012 study split a group of human resources managers into three, which one third participating in mindful meditation training, another third taking body relaxation training and the last third given no training at all. A stressful multitasking test was given to all the managers before and after the eight-week experiment. In the final test, the group that had participated in the meditation training reported less stress during the test than both of the other groups.
  • More Gray Matter. Meditation has been linked to larger amounts of gray matter in the hippocampus and frontal areas of the brain. I didn’t know what this meant at first, but it turns out it’s pretty great. More gray matter can lead to more positive emotions, longer-lasting emotional stability, and heightened focus during daily life. Meditation has also been shown to diminish age-related effects on gray matter and reduce the decline of our cognitive functioning.
* * *

How to Meditate

There's the "body" part and the "mind" part.


Find a posture that will allow you to stay still for the duration of your meditation period -- ideally up to 25 minutes without needing to squirm, wriggle, or adjust your position. You may need to experiment with the different posture options to find one that will allow your body to experience extended stillness.

Burmese Position

In the Burmese, the legs are crossed and both feet rest flat on the floor. The knees should also rest on the floor, though sometimes it takes a bit of stretching for the legs to drop that far. After awhile the muscles will loosen up and the knees will begin to drop. To help that happen, sit on the front third of the cushion, shifting your body forward a little bit. By imagining the top of your head pushing upward to the ceiling and by stretching your body that way, get your spine straight—then just let the muscles go soft and relax. With the buttocks up on the cushion and your stomach pushing out a little, there may be a slight curve in the lower region of the back. In this position, it takes very little effort to keep the body upright.

Half Lotus Position

In the half lotus, the left foot is placed up onto the right thigh and the right leg is tucked under. This position is slightly asymmetrical and sometimes the upper body needs to compensate in order to keep itself absolutely straight. People who use this position should make a habit of alternating which leg they bring up.

Full Lotus Position

The full lotus is the most stable of all the positions. Each foot is placed up on the opposite thigh. This is symmetrical and very solid. Stability and efficiency are the important reasons sitting cross-legged on the floor works so well. There is no esoteric significance to the different positions. What is most important is what you do with your mind. What you do with your feet or legs is merely to allow you to be stable and still.

Seiza Position

You can sit seiza (kneeling) without a pillow, kneeling, with the buttocks resting on the upturned feet which form an anatomical cushion. Or you can use a pillow to keep the weight off your ankles. A third way of sitting seiza is to use the seiza bench. It keeps all the weight off your feet and helps to keep your spine straight.

Chair Position

When sitting on a chair, ground the body by keeping your feet flat on the floor, about 8" apart, with shins perfectly vertical. You can use a cushion the same way you would use it on the floor—placing it beneath you on the chair and sitting on the forward third of it. Some people like to place a cushion between their back and the back of the chair, to keep the spine straight and vertical.

All of the aspects of the posture that are important when seated on the floor or in seiza are just as important when sitting in a chair.

Photos of positions taken from, and descriptions of positions adapted from, Zen Mountain Monastery:

In any position:
  • Sit up straight. Sit on the front edge of your chair or cushion. Extend your back, lifting the top of your head as high as it will go.
  • Let your shoulders and arms completely relax. With your hands resting in your lap, cup one hand inside the other with the tips of the thumbs just barely touching.
  • Almost, but not quite, close your eyes. Leave them open a slit, with your gaze directed downward 45 degrees.

There are various types of meditation. Here's one excellent method, especially suitable for just starting out on a meditation practice.

Bring attention to your breathing and count each exhale to yourself. Count up to 10, then start back again at 1. Repeat counting 1 to 10 throughout the silent period.

When your mind wanders, make a note of what it wandered off doing (e.g., planning, remembering, fantasizing), then gently bring yourself back to this moment and start again at 1.

The objective is not to suppress all thought, but to notice when thoughts arise -- then return to the breath. In this way, your body-mind begins to learn that what you are is not your thoughts. Your thoughts are just something that happens to you in the same way that the weather, or intestinal gas, are things that happen to you.

Use a Timer

Decide whether you're going to meditate for 2 minutes or 10 minutes or 25 minutes or whatever. Set the timer and let the timer take care of telling you when you're done. This avoids distracting glances at a clock.

* * *


Religious Education: September 24, 2021

Religious Education & Faith Development
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
September 24, 2021

2021-2022 RE Theme: Community, Wholeness, Discovering Our New Normal.
Sunday Morning  Online
Online Worship Sun Sep 26, 10:00am
“Caste” ~ Rev. Meredith Garmon

Isabel Wilkerson analyzes American society as being, in its own way, as caste-based as India has traditionally been. The result is some insights for us working to make a better world for everyone.
Online Services are Back in the Worship Webinar Zoom

Click here to join our virtual worshiphttps://bit.ly/CUUC-Worship
or phone in (audio only): 646-876-9923 · Webinar: 761 321 991 · Passcode: 468468
After worship, join our Virtual Coffee Hour
or phone in (audio only): 929-436-2866 · Meeting: 336 956 2210 · Passcode: 468468

Orders of service are e-mailed and uploaded to our website prior to each Sunday.  Revisit past services anytime at our YouTube Channel.
Sunday Afternoon  In Person  Outside
If the weather is inclement or threatening and we need to cancel, we will send out an email and post a notice on the CUUC website.

Sun Sep 26, 4:00-5:30pm, Outdoor Playground

Diane will offer childcare for young children on our outdoor playground. Everyone will wear masks. Drop off and pick up on the playground (enter through the UPPER parking lot). 

Outdoor, In-Person Religious Education
Sun Sep 26, 4:00pm, LOWER Parking Lot
Leaves of three, let it be. 
Furry vines are no friend of mine.

Cynthia R helped us identify
poison ivy - very important!

We continue connecting with each other and the beautiful earth community around us. This Sunday, we begin in the LOWER parking lot to explore The Place Where A Stream Goes Through A Wall (back corner of the lower parking lot) then venture up to the River Birch Spring (behind the playground) as Rev. LoraKim helps us tune in to the birds and animals and Cynthia R helps us connect with the trees and plants. Drawing, rubbings of bark and leaves, checking the trail camera for images of the life that moves about, and exploring to share “wow” experiences will deepen our sense of awe and wonder. We will revisit the areas in December, March, and June to understand and appreciate the cycles of life around us. We look forward to seeing you!

SAFETY NOTES: All adult leaders are vaccinated. Everyone will observe pandemic safety protocols including wearing masks. Dress for a walk in the woods and wear socks with closed-toe shoes. Bug spray will be available to self-administer. To protect plants and avoid ticks, everyone will stay on groomed paths. 

4:00pm Drop Off & 5:30pm Pick Up are in the LOWER Parking Lot. 
Children up to 5th grade must be met by their adult; they will not be released unattended in the parking lot. 

Outdoor, In-Person Worship
Sun Sep 26, 4:30pm, Lower Parking Lot

“Caste” ~ Rev. Meredith Garmon

Bring your lawn chair and gather with us in the lower parking lot for an in-person version of the morning's online worship. Please wear your mask and maintain social distance. Childcare will be available 4:00-5:30pm on the outside playground (access through the upper parking lot). 

Finding Our New Normal
Dear Ones, the Religious Education Council continues working to identify activities and schedules that meet families' needs and availability. As with most things during the pandemic, there are no easy answers. We do now know that 4:00pm Sunday does not work for many so beginning October 3rd, we are shifting to 12:00pm, hoping noon fits better in your schedules. We look forward to the day when we can all be safely back in the building for RE and worship, and are grateful for your patience and understanding as we navigate our way through.  warmly, Tracy

-Tracy Breneman, Director of Religious Education & Faith Formation
New Time
Beginning Oct 3rd: 12:00pm

Outdoor In-Person Worship and RE Classes (Weather Permitting)
WORSHIP: Bring your lawn chair and gather with us in the lower parking lot. Wear your mask and maintain social distance. Starting at 11:30am, childcare is offered on the outdoor playground (enter from the UPPER parking lot).

lasses for 1st-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-7th and 8th-9th grades will take place at 12:00pm during in person, outside worship, in separate locations around our beautiful space.  1st-7th grade classes will focus on community and our UU faith, utilizing UUA Tapestry of Faith curriculaThe 8th-9th grade class will begin their Coming of Age (COA) year.  As COA is one of our foundational experiences for youth, Tracy will check in with COA families and leaders to confirm availability for Sunday at 12:00pm. 

In all activities, we will uphold COVID protocols including meeting outside and wearing masks at all times.  Contact: RE Co-chairs Christine Haran (christineharan@yahoo.com) and Al Forte (aforte232@gmail.com), or Tracy Breneman (cuucwptracy@gmail.com).
8th-12th Grade Youth Group
Youth Group for 8th-12th grade youth will be held at a time that does not conflict with the 8th-9th grade Coming of Age schedule. We will be in touch with leaders and families to determine a schedule.  We encourage our 10th-12th grade youth to attend Sunday worship with their families.  We are also connecting with local interfaith youth networks to participate in joint programming. More information coming soon!
Connecting in Community
Binoculars for Young PlaceKeepers

Last Sunday, Bice W invited our young EarthKeepers, AnimalKeepers, and WaterKeepers to visit CUUC anytime to observe and record notes. The journals will be in a bin outside the front door labeled, “CUUC PlaceKeepers Journals.” We are looking for donations of binoculars. If you have one you are no longer using, we would love to make it available to our young people. You can leave it in the PlaceKeepers Journals bin or contact Tracy to make  arrangements, cuucwptracy@gmail.com
Center Lane Youth Pride

Sat Oct 9, 2:00-6:00pm, Saxon Woods Park
For LGBTQ+ youth and allies ages 8-21. Celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month! Make new friends, learn about resources in Westchester, eat, make crafts, connect with LGBTQ+ mentors, and more! This is an in person event with COVID safety protocols at Saxon Woods Park (1800 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 10605), and it's free! We hope to see you there!! Sign Up Here   

Halloween Party
Saturday, October 30th, Early Afternoon
Start thinking about your Halloween costumes!  We're planning a party outside at CUUC. Trick-or-Treating. Games. Fun for all ages! We invite all CUUC committees, teams, youth group, and individuals to occupy a spot along the trick-or-treat circuit and help full up our trick-or-treaters' bags with goodies. 
Adult COA Class

Fri Oct 1, 7:30pm, Zoom 7899
"Coming of (a little more) Age," an 8-session class led by Rev. Meredith on the first Friday of each month, Oct 1 through May 6, 7:30 - 8:45pm.

Click here to join Zoom 7899. Phone (audio only): 646-876-9923 · Meeting: 289 850 7899 · Passcode: 468468

For Unitarians, coming of age is not a once-and-done proposition. Arriving at a stage of greater maturity -- including spiritual maturity -- is an ongoing life project. This class parallels, for grown-ups, the Coming of Age class that our youth take. It includes exercises and reflections for articulating your UU faith.

We especially encourage parents and mentors of this year’s Coming of Age youth to participate. Class topics in the youth and adult classes will be similar to support conversations at home. The youth COA class begins in October.
BLUU Online Worship

Thursday, Oct 7, Nov 4, Dec 2 at 9pm 
Black Lives of UU (BLUU) online worship resumes in October. Longtime BLUU community member, E.N. Hill, will be offering reflections and co-leading worship! Please register here.

We can’t wait to be with you! BLUU's online worship services are Black Sacred Space in their entirety—by and for Black people, with the words and voices of Black folks across the diaspora— and we hope that Black UUs and Black UU-adjacent folks (who share our values) from far and wide will join us! Feel free to come into our BLUU Zoom Room 15 minutes before the start of the service. For our non-Black siblings in faith, please DO share this invitation with Black folks in your life and community. Getting the word out about BLUU’s gatherings and other programming is one powerful way of lending your support, and we deeply appreciate it!

If you were not able to join us last Sunday afternoon for the blessing of bags and other items we carry, tokens (pictured) are available on the table outside Pam’s office. These are a reminder that the warmth and support of this community is always with us.

Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains  
468 Rosedale Ave · White Plains, NY 10605-5419