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Centering Practices

Nothing You Need to Do Right Now
Imagine a Tree
Three-part Exhalation
Breathe Out With A Whoosh
Three-part Breath
Be Here Now
Feel Your Breath
Listen to Your Breath
Listen to the Sounds in the Room
Feel Your Body From the Inside Out
The Pen (a visual practice)
Feel Your Pulse
Finger Touching Hand
Feel the Temperature
Listen to One Sound
Belly Breathing

Nothing You Need to Do Right Now

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Find a comfortable spot in your chair. … You might want to uncross legs and arms to extend blood flow to every part of your body. … Begin to become aware of your breathing. The air moving in and out, your chest rising and falling. … You may notice your tummy rising and falling. .. In and out slowly. … Breathing … with awareness. There is nothing else you need to do right now, … nowhere else you need to be. … If you experience any passing thought, notice it, and let it be …. a passing thought. … Like a leaf floating down a stream. … Like a feather drifting in the wind. [Allow 2 minutes.] Now bring your attention back to your breathing. … And when you are ready, open your eyes to our group here in this room.

Imagine a Tree

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Close your eyes. Imagine you are sitting beneath a huge tree, a very tall tree, with your back supported by its trunk. … Feel the solidity of the trunk. Let your back merge with it. … Now visualize the tree’s—and your—roots growing deep, deep into the earth. Feel how they support you, how they ground you, how they anchor you in this time and place. … Now, while remaining grounded by your roots, feel your spine extending upward. … Feel as if you are growing, that your head is reaching toward the heavens. … Let yourself be as tall as the tree and as supple—anchored to the earth, yet able to sway and dance in the wind. … Just enjoy that feeling. [longer pause—about 15 seconds] And now gently open your eyes to this time, this place and this group.

Three-part Exhalation

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Let’s take a moment to come fully into this moment, into this place. … Close your eyes. … Feel yourself sinking into seat. Feel your feet on the floor. … We’re going to take some deep breaths, letting each breath out in three stages. … Take a deep breath in. … Now release one-third of the air in your lungs. Pause. Now release another third. Pause. Now empty your lungs completely. Inhale a complete breath and repeat. Continue for three more breaths at your own pace and then gently open your eyes.


Breathe Out With A Whoosh

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Let’s take a moment to come fully into this moment, into this place. … Close your eyes. … Feel your seat and your back where they meet the chair. Feel your feet on the floor. Feel your hands resting in your lap. Now take a deep breath and let it out with a whoosh through your mouth. [Demonstrate.] … Continue at your own pace for three or four breaths and then open your eyes.

Three-part Breath

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Before we begin, let’s take a moment to come fully into this moment, into this place. … Close your eyes. … Get comfortable in your chair and rest both feet on the floor. … Rest your hands in your lap. … … Feel yourself sinking into your chair. … Feel your feet on the floor. … Now we’re going to take some deep, conscious breaths together. … Inhale slowly and let the breath downward into your belly. Let your belly expand. … Now let the breath move into your lower chest and feel it expanding both sides of your body under your arms. … Finally let the breath move into your upper chest. See if you can feel it expanding your collarbones. Pause for a moment. Now release the breath slowly … slowly. Repeat this several times at your own pace, until you hear the gong. [Allow 1or 2 minutes, and then sound the bell.]

Be Here Now

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Before we begin, let’s come fully into this time and this place using the mantra, “Be here now.” Here’s how it will work. Close your eyes. As you inhale, mentally say, “Be here now.” Repeat the phrase as you exhale. Pace your repetition of “Be here now,” so one repetition lasts for your whole in-breath and another repetition lasts for your whole out-breath. Continue until you hear the gong. [Allow about 2 minutes for this centering exercise.]

Feel Your Breath

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Lower or close eyes. … Get comfortable in your chair. … Begin to pay attention to your breath. … Feel the breath in your nostrils as you inhale. … Feel it in your nostrils as you exhale. … For the next few minutes, focus on your breath in your nostrils as you inhale and again as you exhale. … When your attention wavers, come back to the breath. [Allow 2 minutes] And now take a deeper breath, and slowly open your eyes.

Listen to Your Breath

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Lower or close eyes. … Get comfortable in your chair. … Begin to pay attention to your breath. … While breathing normally, see if you can hear your breath as you inhale. … Now see if you can hear it as you exhale. … For the next few minutes, listen to the sound of your breath. … When your attention wavers, come back to the breath. [Allow 2 minutes] And now take a deeper breath, and slowly open your eyes.

Listen to the Sounds in the Room

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Make yourself comfortable in your chair. … Close your eyes and relax your body. … Notice all the sounds you can hear. … [Allow 1 minute] … Now shift your attention to the sound of your own heart beating. … [Allow 1 minute] … Now focus again on the other sounds around you. … [Allow 30 seconds] … Now bring your attention back to the room and slowly open your eyes.
- based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

Feel Your Body From the Inside Out

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Make yourself comfortable in your chair. … Lower or close your eyes. Focus on how your body feels right now. … Feel it from the inside out. … How wide do you feel? … How thick? … How tall? … How heavy? … What’s going on inside your body? … Just focus on how your body feels right now. … [Allow 2 minutes] Now return to the room and slowly open your eyes.
- based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

The Pen (a visual practice)

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Take out a pencil or pen. [Have some available for those who don’t have one with them. Allow enough time for everyone to be ready. ] Hold your pencil or pen in one hand and rest your other, empty hand on your thigh with the palm turned upward. … Now raise the pen or pencil up toward the ceiling, point up. …Your arm should be fully extended. … Look up at the pen and follow it with your eyes as you slowly lower it so it rests in the palm of the other hand. Don’t take your eyes off the pen. [Wait until everyone has done this] And now stare at your pen or pencil until I ask you to stop. … [Time 2 or 3 minutes.] And now come back to the group again.
- based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

Feel Your Pulse

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Close or lower your eyes. … Make yourself comfortable in your chair. … Rest your hands on your thigh. As you become still, see if you can feel—without touching—the pulse in one of your wrists. Focus on sensing your pulse for the next few minutes. [Allow 1 or 2 minutes]
- based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

Finger Touching Hand

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Sit comfortably in your chair and take a deep breath. … Place the palm of one hand on your thigh with the palm turned upward toward the ceiling. … Raise your other arm over your head and point your index finger toward the ceiling. … Slowly lower your hand and place the tip of your index finger so it rests on your other hand or on your wrist. … Now lower your eyes and focus all your attention on the tip of that finger. … Feel how your fingertip feels as it touches your hand. [allow 1 minute] Now gently shift your attention to the spot where your index finger touches the hand, and with complete attention, focus - based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

Feel the Temperature

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Lower or close your eyes. … Make yourself comfortable in your chair. … Take a deep breath and let it out. … Now concentrate all your attention on the tip of your index finger. … Concentrate on how it feels in the temperature of this room. Concentrateyou’re your awareness on the room temperature as it’s felt by your index finger. (Allow 2 or 3 minutes.).
- based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

Listen to One Sound

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Lower or close your eyes. … Take a few deep breaths. … Become aware of all the sounds you can hear right now. … Pick just one of those sounds and focus all your attention on it. … If your attention strays, bring it gently back to that sound. (Allow 2 or 3 minutes.)
- based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

Belly Breathing

Leader says (with long pauses between sentences):
Lower or close eyes. … Make yourself comfortable in your seat and relax as much as you can. … Become aware of your breathing. … Now focus on your abdomen and how it rises and falls as you inhale and exhale. … Concentrate all your attention on your abdomen rising and falling with each breath. (Allow 2 or 3 minutes.)
- based on an embodied practice developed by Thandeka, a UU minister who is associate professor of theology and culture at Meadville/Lombard Theological School

 

Glory be to Time
And to thy wife Water.
We praise thy servants Heat and Pressure,
And the miraculous attraction of molecule for molecule, mass for mass.
We who are light become life—oh, so briefly—
Look on your works, Ye Mighty, and despair,
Delight,
Are called to do you homage.

Face to face with immensity, may we gain perspective,
Gratitude for the gift of being witness,
And peace in knowing that our eyes will close,
Our energy and matter will mingle with the stuff with which you work,
World without end.
Amen.

- Paige Grant UU World Summer 2006 5.15.06