The Mighty Power in Simple Breathwork [5 Minute Meditation]

silhouette of man sitting on grass field at daytime

When you’re beginning to practice meditation, often the biggest roadblock is “emptying” the mind. It is common to quit meditating all together, because no matter how hard you try, it seems impossible to stop random thoughts from popping into your head.

Often what happens is that someone will attempt to silence their thoughts, random thoughts come, and then that person will start to judge themselves for not being able to meditate “correctly.” Then, instead of freedom from attachment, they are fully attached to thoughts of “I just can’t do it!”

There is a cycle that happens here that we must find a way to break!

How do we break that cycle?

Breathing!

Instead of focusing on whether or not you’re “doing it right” shift your attention to your breath. The rhythmic pattern of inhaling and exhaling has an effect on your mind similar to the effect a lullaby might have on a fussy infant. We are simply calming everything down: our bodies, our thoughts, our worries, etc.

Scientists are now just beginning to understand some of the marvelous benefits of breath control. According to The New York Times:

“Studies have found…that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.”

Breathe. Exhale. Repeat: The Benefits of Controlled Breathing, By Lesley Alderman, NY Times, Nov. 9, 2016

The “Just Breathe” Method

This 5 Minute Meditation Method allows us to practice using our breath to still our minds.

Meditation for beginners steps

Step By Step Instructions

  1. Find a quiet place
  2. Pick an object in the room
  3. Imagine a connected tube supplying oxygen, and inhale deeply
  4. Pause at the end of your inhale
  5. Let out the breath and send the air back through the imaginary tube toward the object
  6. Repeat until you feel like you’re in a rhythm
  7. Close your eyes and repeat the same breath pattern until you feel calm and relaxed

Instructional Video

During a recent webinar, Curtis Lee Rodgers walks attendees through the “Just Breathe” Method

Notes

  • Pretending that air is flowing through a tube allows you to blend the use of your imagination with the reality of the physical object in the room.
  • Your breath becomes the connection between the two realms of imagination and reality.
  • Imagination is what fuels or creative processes. When we need inspiration we can draw upon our creative mind.
  • Focusing on the physical objectgrounds” us in the natural world or “reality.”
  • The flow from imagination to physical reality can provide inspiration when we need a creative boost.
  • The flow from physical reality to our imagination can help us make peace with an obstacle or issue we face.

Summary

What appears, on the surface, as a simple exercise actually has deeper implications.

Mastering the “gap” between “what is” (or our reality) and “what can be” (or our imagination) allows us to participate in the natural flow of consciousness.

Too often we wait for things to happen and then merely have a reaction. A life of spiritual practice, even a simple one like the meditation method mentioned in this post, allows us to break the habit of reaction and live purposely.

Learning how to harness and direct our thoughts cleans up all the mental junk we accumulate and allows us to create more, love more and envision a better existence for ourselves and our world.


Related Articles

Meditation for Beginners [How to start in only five minutes!]

aged ancient asian buddhism

When first beginning to explore meditation, it can be very difficult to figure out how to get started. We often want to jump straight into becoming a meditation master!

Many of us lack the ability or the time to spend hours in deep states of consciousness. This series of posts seeks to explore beginning meditation methods. Some of the methods shared will only require 5 minutes!

aged ancient asian buddhism

The key is to allow yourself to try! No one will become a meditation expert overnight, but trying a simple 5 minute exercise can help to build important focus and relaxation skills. These small skills can lead to a more satisfying spiritual practice.

What are the benefits of this method?

This practice can help begin to clear the “clutter” from your mind. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or burdened about something in your life, this meditation method helps to clear away other distractions and “make peace” with the concern you have.

Five Minute Meditation #1: The Paper Method

Quick Reference Slide

Instructions for Five Minute Meditation

  1. Find a quiet place
  2. Write down a concern, source of anxiety, goal or something else that is on your mind.
  3. Spend the next 1-2 minutes staring at the words on the paper.
  4. Close your eyes.
  5. Begin folding the paper over and over again until it won’t fold any longer. Some people have found it more satisfying to rip the piece of paper into smaller and smaller pieces instead of using the folding method. Feel free to use whichever method works best for you.

The physical act of folding or tearing the paper gives you a chance to “make peace” with the source of your anxiety or concern. We are tying a physical act to the thought. We are quite literally “pushing away” harmful thoughts.

You may notice a sense of relief right away or you may not notice anything at all. Like anything else, it takes time to develop an effective spiritual practice. The important thing is you’ve taken the first step!

Shredder, Crushed, Paper, Flakes, Paper Strip, Shredded

Things to note:

  • If you have a busy chaotic environment, do the best you can to get away. You may try sneaking off to the bathroom, garage or outside to a nearby park.
  • When staring at the word on the piece of paper, let thoughts come, but don’t obsess over them. Treat them as a stranger who just walked past you on the street, give a polite nod and then move on.
  • When you have finished fold or tearing your paper, give yourself a moment to collect yourself and take a deep breath before returning to the buzz of life.

Watch the Video!

Other Meditation Resources

Guided Meditations Group

Each Thursday evening for 20 to 30 minutes Rev. Susan Brecht leads a guided meditation, followed by a short time of sharing. The meditations draw from Christian, Buddhist, and Inter-spiritual traditions i.e. Loving Kindness Meditations, Tonglen, Relaxation Meditation, Examen, Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer and meditations focused on themes of Gratitude, Peace and Love. 

All are welcome to join us on ZOOM. 


Embrace Life Project

Former Pastor, Curtis Lee Rodgers lead a 4 week webinar series all about learning how to use spiritual practice in order to live a more fulfilling life. Webinar #2, in particular, deals with the three main types of spiritual practice and gives practical examples and tips.
Watch the entire webinar below, just click play!

Searching for Normal

“Searching for Normal” is a poem by Rev. Susan Brecht
Rev. Susan reads her poem during Sunday Worship

A day in the park.
Masked man greets me.
Smiling eyes.
“Isn’t it wonderful,
all these people in the park!”
Just what I was thinking.
“It almost feels normal.”
I agree.



We’re searching for normal,
not the old normal.

We can’t go back.
A new normal?
What does that look like?

Hand shakes instead of fist bumps?
Hugs all around.
Time with family and friends –
no longer six feet apart.
New signs on empty store fronts.
But that is the old normal.

We’re searching for a new normal –
where oceans are clear of plastic,
solar panels and windmills dot the horizon,
electric stations replace gas pumps,
glaciers have stopped melting,
polar bears still have a home,
air is clear to breathe and water safe to drink.

We’re searching for a new normal –
where children no longer go hungry,
where no one lives on the street,
medical care is available to all,
and college students graduate debt free.

We’re searching for a new normal –
where guns are only used for hunting,
prisons rehabilitate,
restorative justice reduces prison population,
where wars are a distant memory.

We’re searching for a new normal –
where truth is the standard bearer,
fake news a relic of the past,
where honesty is worn as a badge of honor,
where all people are treated with dignity and respect,
where we see each other,
even those we disagree with,
with the eyes of God,

We’re searching for a new normal –
where acts of kindness are a daily occurrence,
positive stories out number negative ones
on the daily news cycle.
where walls have morphed into bridges,
not only on the border,
but in our daily lives,
where government officials reach across the aisle,
egos set aside,
to work for the betterment of all,

We’re searching for a new normal –
where churches are filled on Sunday mornings,
and throughout the week,
their work and message spilling out into the streets,
a renaissance of spirituality,
no matter your tradition.

A new normal, you say?
But how?
It’s up to each one of us,
who keep dreaming,
who have faith that a new normal is possible,
who keep hope alive,
who ground ourselves in love,
and each day, each one of us,
take steps to make it a reality,
for that is the only way
to a new normal.

Guest Speaker Celia Daniels

Celia Sandhya Daniels ( She / They ) — Trans evangelist & Human Rights Activist

On Sunday, June 27, 2021 we will celebrate “Open and Affirming Sunday” as part of our month-long LGBTQIA+ Pride celebration. We have invited long-time friend Celia Sandhya Daniels to be our guest speaker during our morning Worship Service.

Meet Celia Daniels

Celia is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, D&I champion, blogger, composer, musician, photographer, hiker and a filmmaker. She currently resides in southern California with her family. She is an Asian Indian who identifies as Gender Non-Binary and Non-Op trans person of color. Celia brings an intersectional blend of ethnicity, creativity, culture, religion and corporate experience in her “trans-evangelism”, as she likes to call it. She is currently focused on educating and building allies with local communities, business, churches, police dept., therapists, doctors and organizations that fight for civil rights and economic empowerment.

How to Attend

Our service begins at 10 AM (PST) and we welcome guests to attend in-person at 370 Royal Avenue, Simi Valley, CA or view online via Zoom.


Have a Question? We’d love to hear from you!

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“Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.”

New Farmers Market Booth

We have a cool new booth in the crafts aisle at the Farmers Market, to last throughout the spring! All proceeds go to charity: Sales of facemasks, potholders, and microwave bowl cozies (our hot new item) benefit our church, and sales of pillowcases benefit People Pillowcases, providing pillowcases for foster kids. There are also some fresh vegetable stands in the the food and produce section. The market is open every Friday, 11:00 to 3:30, on Tapo Canyon Road, in the shopping center directly north of the 118 freeway, between the Regal Theater and TGIFridays. Just look for all the white canopies at the north end of the mall.


Put on your mask (I know where you can get one!) and come and visit!

Mental Health Sunday

In addition to celebrating Pentecost this Sunday, we will also be observing UCC’s
Mental Health Sunday.  

“The magnitude of mental illness in this country is staggering. According to the Surgeon General, one in every five Americans experiences a mental disorder in any given year and half of all Americans have such disorders at some time in their lives. These illnesses of the brain affect all of us, regardless of age, gender, economic status or ethnicity. Mental illness affects the mind, body and the spirit. It is a real, common and treatable illness. Mental illnesses are far more common than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or arthritis” (from Mental Health Ministries; http://www.mentalhealthministries.net). 

The UCC Mental Health Network exists “to reduce stigma and promote the inclusion of people with mental illnesses/brain disorders and their families in the life, leadership, and work of congregations.”  Their mission is to educate congregations to Widen the Welcome to all, just as Jesus reached out to those people who were marginalized, ostracized, and considered to be the outcasts of society.  Jesus brings comfort, love, understanding, support, and affirmation to everyone, and it is the Mental Health Network’s calling to help congregations be more like Jesus in Widening the Welcome to invite all who have been excluded from congregational life and ministry.  (See https://www.mhn-ucc.org/).  

Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, and the need for continuing education, compassionate outreach, and loving support and encouragement for congregants and their family members, as well as our friends and community members, I envision us including mental health in our church’s Peace and Justice Ministry.  May our recognition of Mental Health Sunday be only the very beginning of including this very important aspect of our overall holistic health needs in our worship, faith formation, and spiritual nurture.

Uncomfortable Conversations- A Discussion Group

An invitation to heal racism by talking about it. That is what author Emmanuel Acho believes is the only way to cure our nation’s oldest disease, talking, ”Until it gets uncomfortable…and then some.” We will use Mr. Acho’s  book “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man” as our guide. We’ll discuss topics like implicit bias, the N-word, reverse and systemic racism, black family struggles, interracial relationships and how to be an ally. The segments are short, so I will send out excerpts ahead of our conversations and share some to open the meeting. I’m not requiring, but highly recommend that you purchase the book as a valuable resource, especially as you may want (hopefully) to start conversations of your own. 

We will meet on Zoom every 2nd and 4th Tues. of the month from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Topics and intro will be sent out the week before along with the Zoom link. If you are interested in joining these conversations at any time, please send an e-mail to treasurer@uccsimi.org and I will put you on the list to receive notices. Feel free to forward invites to family and friends. The more people talking, the greater the impact. 

Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Acho’s introduction, “Consider this book an invitation to the table. It’s a special table- but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those uptight, where’s-your-VIP-reservation places, rather a come-as-you-are joint for my white brothers and sisters and anyone else inclined to join us. The room where this table sits is a safe space, by which I mean a space to learn things you’ve always wondered about, a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered. For all of you who lack an honest black friend in your life, consider me that friend.”

He also has a you tube channel and has created other content. I encourage you to check him out in advance of our first meeting. 

I look forward to our time together

Peace

Carla Ritter

Guided Meditations

Thursday Evenings at 8 p.m. on ZOOM


I think of God as a Presence that I can be in relationship with, one that I can draw wisdom from, who guides me, and fills me with peace and love. The spiritual practice of meditation helps bring me into that presence. Meditation reduces stress, cultivates a sense of inner peace, helps us to find clarity of purpose, and can produce healing, as some in our medical profession have been finding out.


Each Thursday evening for 20 to 30 minutes I lead a guided meditation, followed by a short time of sharing. The meditations draw from Christian, Buddhist, and Inter-spiritual traditions i.e. Loving Kindness Meditations, Tonglen, Relaxation Meditation, Examen, Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer and meditations focused on themes of Gratitude, Peace and Love. 

All are welcome to join us on ZOOM. Just fill out the contact form below, and I will send you the link to join. 


Finding peace during these challenging times. 

Susan Brecht


Meditation Group Inquiry

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We would like to hear from you. Please send us a message or ask a question by filling out the form below and we will get back to you soon.

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Book Study

Join Us for a New Book Study: Valarie Kaur’s See No Stranger

Starting mid-July we invite you to join us as we begin studying Valarie Kaur’s “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.” She will be one of the keynote speakers at the UCC’s General Synod in July. 

Image Source: https://valariekaur.com/see-no-stranger/

The book jacket reads: “How do we labor for the world we want when the labor feels endless? Valarie Kaur — renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer  — declares revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions; to others, to our opponents and to ourselves. It enjoins us to see no stranger but instead look at others and say: You are part of me I do not yet know. Starting from the place of wonder, the world begins to change: It is a practice that can transform a relationship, a community, a culture, even a nation.

Kaur takes readers through her own riveting journey — as a brown girl growing up in California farmland finding her place in the world; as a young adult galvanized by the murders of Sikhs after 9/11; as a law student fighting injustices in American prisons and on Guantanamo Bay; as an activist working with communities recovering from xenophobic attacks; and as a woman trying to heal from her own experiences with sexual assault and police violence. 

Drawing from the wisdom of sages, scientists, and activists, Kaur reclaims love as an active, public, and revolutionary force that creates new possibilities for ourselves, our communities, and our world. See No Stranger helps us imagine new ways of being with each other —and with ourselves – so that together we can begin to build the world we want to see.”

This is a book for the time we live in. I invite anyone who would like to join us to contact us using the form below.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Rev. Susan Brecht


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Fun projects you can do at home for the entire Family!

Forming and Nurturing Our Faith
Continuing to Learn and Grow – For All Ages

Faith Formation Resources for the beginning weeks of the new year.
Fun projects you can do at home for the entire Family!
Click the buttons below to print yours.

Remember: The little ones feel “Quarantine Fatigue” too! It’s important to keep them engaged and provide outlets for their creativity. We know parents everywhere must be chomping at the bit for schools to be back in session and regular activities return to pre-Covid schedules. We hope this series of activities provides some quality time for your family during this holiday season!

#1 – Color Your Own Epiphany Star!


Crafts, Coloring Pages, Discussion Questions and more!

#2 – First Sunday After Christmas Activities

#3 – Second Sunday After Christmas Activities

#4 – Second Sunday After Epiphany Activities

#5 – Baptism of the Lord Activities

#6 – Third Sunday After Epiphany

#7 – Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

#8 – Fifth Sunday After Epiphany

#9 – Sixth Sunday After Epiphany