How Meditation Makes Us Better Listeners

Did you hear that?

You know that person who is always interrupting you, and pretends to listen when it’s so obvious he or she is doing anything but that? Who responds with either a completely unrelated follow-up question, or immediately hi-jacks the conversation into another direction. Oh hey, that was me. And I’m sure at times is still me.
 

Yep, for most of my life I was so busy having a gazillion conversations in my own head that anyone trying to have a conversation with me hardly stood a chance of being heard. Really, back then I could barely hear mySelf.
 

Becoming a better listener.

These days though, I’d say I’ve become a better listener. The gazillion conversations going on in my head have died down to double digits. And I even have people telling me how much they appreciate how heard they feel when speaking to me. Which is one of the ways my meditation practice has transformed my relationships – with both mySelf and with others.
 

Tara Brach says in The Sacred Art of Listening“We spend most of our moments when someone is speaking, planning what we’re going to say, evaluating it, trying to come up with our presentation of our self, or controlling the situation. Pure listening is a letting go of control. It’s not easy and takes training… The bottom line is when we are listened to, we feel connected. When we’re not listened to, we feel separate.”

 

So how does our meditation practice make us better listeners? 

When we practice meditation, we are really practicing letting go. Letting go of the gazillion conversations swirling in our heads. Letting go of the planning and the projecting. Letting go of control, or our identification with being the doer.
 

What makes us great listeners is that we listen with great attention. This means that we must be present, tending to the other person as they talk the same way that we tend to the breath as it moves – open and curious, without judgement, nor an agenda.
 

When we meditate, we practice being the witness, or observer. Which is really what our role is when we are the listener. We are there to take in the other person’s truth, and when it’s possible or welcomed, to reflect that truth back.
 

The invitation this week: practice deep, mindful listening

So if you’d like to change the way you hear yourSelf and those around you, the invitation this week is to practice Deep, Mindful Listening.
 

To begin, here’s a free, short guided mindfulness meditation to practice tending to the sounds around you. Then, after the meditation, you’re welcome to call a friend, or a family member and offer them your full attention. You just might notice that you hear them in a new way. As you listen, check in with how you feel. And you might notice that you feel different, too.
 

And if you don’t, that’s okay. As Tara Brach reminds us, “It’s not easy and it takes training.”
 

May we learn to listen without impatience / May we give neither praise nor blame, only listen / May we offer our attention in the present moment as a gift to each other / And may we feel how wonderful it is to be heard 
 

And so it is.
 

w/Love,
Kris Moon

 

 

2016 highlights

 

I’m moving into a new year with a spacious heart. My 2016 gratitude haiku is still relevant to me.

 

A dream coming true A Sweet home for family All love surrounds me #2016gratitudehaiku

A photo posted by kris_moon (@_krismoon_) on

 

Here are a few of my favorite memories and take-aways from this past year:

  • I wrote and sent out a newsletter for 18 weeks in a row, 26 in total. My consistent efforts created closer connections with many of you. And it was a personal win to stay committed to writing for so many weeks.
  • I fell off the horse and got back on a number of times, metaphorically. And many of you showed up for me during the times I wasn’t riding all that skillfully. This year was a big year of team efforts and deep remembering of our inherent connection to each other and something greater than us – that Great Mystery.
  • We found the real deal Moon Mountain, went under-contract and struggled with securing financing. Changing closing dates meant we moved out of the tiny house and left summer farm camp just a wee too soon. 6 weeks of couch surfing meant impromptu Chicago visit. Which meant saying goodbye to beloved Busia. Hands down the biggest gift of the whole year.

 


Late September we moved into our home sweet farmhouse. We’ve called this place Moon Mountain years before it was ever an actual place. It’s more enchanting and otherworldly than we could have envisioned. It feels safe and exciting to have found ourselves a slice of something special. A place to retreat, to regenerate, to reunite and to heal. We enter 2017 with a clear vision, open to observe and listen. To love, protect and share this 28-acre mountain sanctuary is an intention very much alive in our hearts.

 

 

Many of you followed along during our time experimenting as farmers. Adventures in tiny house living showed us how living with less can be more fulfilling. The season of planting and growing and working together at summer farm camp is one that will shape me for many years to come. Now here are a couple last experiences that shaped me in this final season of the year:

 

  • I officiated my first marriage ceremony in early October and it was a definite highlight. My buddy Murf got married to the absolute kindest, loveliest of souls. I got to guide all the guests inward and remind us all of the richness that awaits us when we allow our attention to settle on a singular point in the presence. Take away: Be here now & feel the love that surrounds you.
  • Finally, most recent news is that we got pregnant right after we closed on the property. Life was overflowing. What lay ahead gave us great heights of happiness, and we were feeling deep gratitude for all of the abundance. Then we miscarried. The scales shifted as they do. Reading this poem daily became a ritual for us healing.

 

Then a woman said, “speak to us of Joy
and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your
laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your
tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your
being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very
cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothe’s your
spririt, the very wood that was hollowed
out with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only that
which has given you sorrow that is giving
you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been
your delight.
Some of you say, ” Joy is greather than
sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is
the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable,
Together they come, and when one sits
alone with you at your board, remember
that the other is alseep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales, be-
tween your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at
standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you up to
weigh his gold and silver, needs must
your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

 

Take away: My joys and sorrows shape me. Also, I am naturally drawn to poetry, since I was a child, and it seems to support my healing (stay awake to this observation and offer it more energy).

 

 

The biggest take-away from the past year is how much strength a loving, high vibrating, plugged-in community is to my personal healing & development. The sister/brotherhood is strong and I’m deeply grateful for your presence on the path with me.

 

Thanks so much for holding space for me to honor the highlights of 2016, and for envisioning what taking action would look like for even one person who may be suffering, including ourselves.

 

The vision is bright my friends, and keeps revealing itself as we watch and listen. I am planning for a future, remembering that nothing is ever certain. My biggest priority is still the same: to be here now the best I can with an open heart mind. I enjoy exploring the vastness and depths of what it is to be a living thing and diving deeper as curiosity and wonder lead me. At times, maybe you’ll travel with me.

 

 

Wishing us all well with the final blessing below:

May we all engage in a daily practice that promotes peace within ourselves / May our peace drop into the ocean of everyone’s peace and effect it / May we move forward together with clear vision and hopeful hearts / May we remember that peace is possible / And so it is. 

 

loving myself
loving you,
kris moon

gentle mindful morning yoga

I’m excited to share with you a very gentle, morning yoga asana practice. It’s a lot of moving slowly, mobilizing the joints gently and massaging the back body mindfully. For me, this practice is perfect for the mornings when you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet and your mind is moving fastfastfast.

 

The practice might test your patience especially when you’ve got little to work with. And at the same time the practice may also strengthen your ability to be with whatever is or isn’t happening right now.

 

I’ve definitely noticed how quickly my mind is trying to close the gap between now and later. I’ve got the early spring enthusiasm for all that may come. Seeds have been planted and the soil is fertile. So many ideas, plans and possibilities oh my!

 

It’s so easy for me to forget to be when I’ve got so much that I wish to do. Is it the same for you?

 

This is why I choose to practice slow, mindful yoga – a style of yoga that uses the physical asanas or postures as opportunities to practice paying attention to the present moment without judgment. I’ve discovered that the practice of mindful yoga has helped bring more presence, patience and appreciation into my daily living. While at the same time offering me the many benefits that come from practicing yoga in general.

 

If you’d like, the invitation for this week is to choose at least 1 morning, if not 2, 3, 4, or 5 mornings, to notice the sensations in the body with each breath, each movement, each moment. To watch what comes up in the mind. To feel your feelings. To practice gratitude. All while gently rolling around on the floor and stretching the body.

 

If you’ve got more time, and are feeling like you could benefit from more energizing movement, you can extend the practice by pairing this gentle warm up with Sun Salutations. Or if you’re using this as a way to move into seated meditation, set a timer for however long you’d like to sit – 5, 10, 20 minutes or more.

 

May we all meet ourselves wherever we are today, with patience.

 

W/love,
Kris Moon

 

” Mindful yoga is a lifetime engagement – not to get somewhere else, but to be where and as we actually are in this very moment, with this very breath, whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.”
– Jon Kabat Zinn

Contemplation on the Majesty of Simplicity

A Spring Morning in Magictown

A Spring Morning in Magictown

This morning I’ve watched the morning fog stream its way over the French Broad River and through the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live.

 

This morning I watched the chickens forage for food along the mountainside, and then lay low together in the shade.

 

I cooked an egg and spread it over a bed of greens grown by my friend who is a farmer.

 

I listened to Lobo Marino’s latest album, singing along as an offering to the life that was waking up all around me, and inside of me.

 

I kissed my best friend goodbye and wished him well on his first bicycle ride to work at the local newspaper.

 

The spark of a promise to seize the day lights up my morning here in Magictown.

 

Soon I will prepare for today’s classes.

 

And for now, I will continue to contemplate the majesty of a simple life.

 

There once was a time when I thought simplicity was a bore.  Life was seen as a chore instead of an opportunity to experiment.

 

To me, my daily practice of mindful yoga and vipassana meditation help me to wake up and see the beauty of what a simple and honest day could be.

 

In just a couple months it will be 1 year since we left our city grinds behind and chose to experiment with a slower, simpler life more closely connected to our hearts and Nature.  Our hypothesis was a higher-quality of life.

 

This morning the quality of life reached a staggeringly splendid height.  I’m most certain the majesty is available to all.  I’m also confident that my experience of it continues to be fleeting.  So I continue along this path of peace and union, trusting in the flame’s moments of steadiness.  One step at a time I am reminded.  And not to forget to cherish these majestic moments of simplicity as they are offered.

 

Now it’s time to return to the marketplace.  Chop chop my fellow seekers.  If you’d like, I invite you to experiment with seeing the greatness in the routine of today’s to-do’s.

 

Here is a simple way to connect to the majesty of the moment, wherever you are:

 

Pause for a moment.

Be with the sensation of breath filling the body.

Be with the sensation of breath emptying the body.

Enjoy the splendor of simply breathing.

 

W/love,

Kris Moon

 

 

Kindness is critical

What do we do when it appears we’ve lost our way?

 

This past weekend, in a conscious effort to slow down, Mi Amor and I attended a silent work meditation retreat. The retreat took place at Southern Dharma, a lovely retreat center about an hour north of us here in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. The weekend was a combination of sitting and working meditation to prepare for the upcoming retreat season. There were about 20 of us who were split into various task teams, and I was assigned to the outdoor landscaping crew.

 

Even though we had specific tasks to do, the priority was placed on maintaining our meditative focus over getting the job done. We were encouraged to slow down, to be with our breath, to notice what we were doing, and to enjoy the work. And believe you me, this was much easier said than done. (even when I had just sent out an email practice all about how to do this!)

 

Within 5 minutes, yes, 5 minutes, of raking leaves I had already mapped out in my head the entire area that I would tackle in the first 3-hour work session. Once I had the plan in place, I started to attach myself to the outcome of accomplishing what I had set out to do, quickly forgetting the meditative focus.

 

About 20 minutes in I felt a sharp sensation in my left hand. I stopped, wiped the sweat that at this point covered my forehead and the back of my neck, and removed my working gloves. In between my pointer finger and thumb was a huge blister that in this short time managed to not only form but had also popped, leaving behind a large flap of skin.

 

In the absence of noticing my breath and staying present for what I was doing, I had become so focused on completing the task before me, that I was death gripping the rake, literally causing myself harm. Now in that moment of awareness, I had a choice. I could do what I tend to do, beat myself up for losing my way….

 

“Ugggghhhh…I’ve only been out here for half an hour and I’ve already failed. Ugggghhhh…I’m a professional for goodness sake, and I can’t even get it right. Ugggghhhh…all this practice and for what? I should just quit right now. What’s the point? I suck.” 

 

OR….in this moment, I could choose to offer myself kindness. I could let go of the story in my head about not being good enough or being a failure, and I could simply come back to noticing my breath in the body, feeling the sensation of the sun touching my skin, seeing the red buds against the blue sky and the yellow daffodils emerge from the green grass, hearing the sound of the birds singing their songs….

 

I could return to right now. I could remember that I am a human being and that being human isn’t about being right or wrong.

 

That the so-called success of the meditation practice is in making the choice to come back over and over and over again, no matter how many times we stray. And that the critical element for ensuring that we are able to start anew without losing hope or getting lost in our story is kindness.

 

As we approach the vernal equinox on Sunday, it’s a great time of year to come back to our center, without judgment of if and how we might have strayed. To remember our True Nature is already whole and complete. To realize that our worth isn’t tied to what we “get done.” That in any given moment, even when it may not feel like it, we are more than enough.

 

This week, the invitation is to practice coming back to your breath…. the sensations in the body…the sounds around you…the beauty you see as Nature wakes up from her winter slumber… to choose to come back to the experience of right now, with kindness.

 

Now sometimes we need outside support in helping us remember our innate ability to begin again. Mother Nature continues to be one of my most helpful teachers. Spring offers us the reminder that new growth is possible. Sometimes support comes in the form of a trusted friend who reminds us to be gentle and kind to ourselves when we are stuck in a pattern of despair or when our inner bully is on the pounce. And sometimes we just need some guidance as we practice.

 

Lately, I’ve found it quite challenging to exercise my kindness muscle, and therefore I’ve included a loving kindness meditation practice that has served me well in hopes that it may support you, too.

 

As always, if you have questions or comments, or are in need of a friend, I love hearing from you. And if you feel called to invite another to join this online practice community, please do.

 

May we all be happy, may we all be healthy, and may we all love and accept ourselves just as we are…

 

Wishing you all a supportive Spring Equinox, full of kindness and reflection.

 

W/love,
Kris Moon

Ease into the Holidays with this Simple Supported Posture – Reclined Bound Angle

suptabaddhakonasanaKRIS

Reclined bound angle pose is a pretty cushy set up, especially with the addition of props. This is a must-do practice for me heading into winter.  It’s beneficial to respiration, restful as can be, and helps keep spirits up.  As always, give it a go and then see for yourself if and how you benefit.

 

Here’s one variation of the pose with several ways to use props for greater comfort and ease. You can practice for as little as a couple minutes to as long as a half an hour, depending on how much time you have and what your personal needs for relaxation are at that particular time.

  

Props: 2 eggs (or rolled towels/blankets) / several blankets and a wall space

 

propsneeded

 

  • Fold a blanket in half to make a rectangle about the width of your torso and place it on the floor, a few feet perpendicular to a wall.
  • Place a second blanket on top of the first blanket, on the end of the blanket farthest from the wall.
  • Sit facing the wall, with your knees bent and your hips slightly in front of the blanket.
  • Lay back on the blankets so the chest is lifted and the back body is supported.
  • Use the second blanket to lift the head so the forehead is slightly higher than the chin.
  • Spread the thighs apart and bring your heels and soles of the feet together, toes can touch the wall to help keep feet together.
  • Let the knees relax out to the side and down toward the floor.  You can experiment with the distance between the feet and buttocks.
  • Place a folded blanket or egg under each thigh so there is no strain or pulling in the groin.
  • Inhale the arms over the head and stretch the abdominals without over bowing the low back/lumbar spine
  • Exhale relax the arms about 45 degree angle from the shoulder with the palms face up.
  • Press into the backs of the hands to lift and open center of the chest, gently draw the tops of the shoulder blades down, in toward the heart and then spread them forward and apart. The key is to keep the center of the chest lifted.
  • The body temperature decreases when you relax so be sure to cover the body with a blanket to stay warm.
  • Add an eye pillow, and a personal favorite for the winter months is to place blankets under the wrists and then fold them over the palm to create mittens for the hands.
  • Practice a few rounds of diaphragmatic / restorative breaths.  Then gently meditate on the natural breath. Download a guided meditation you can practice while resting in this posture.  Here’s one I’ve created as a free gift.  Anytime you notice the mind reviewing lists of gifts or other holiday to-do’s, simply return to sipping on the breath and enjoying the ease that is possible this season.
  • You can set a timer and be here for as long as you have, up to 20-30 minutes.

 

mittens eye pillow

As always, feel free to reach out with questions or comments, and enjoy!

xo, Kris Moon

 

Guided Mindfulness Meditation on the Breath

Here’s a short & simple mindfulness meditation on the breath. It’s a perfect practice for when you’re feeling the need for less speed. It aims to help you move from a high alert red zone to a calmer, more focused state. All you need for this one is your awareness.

 

If you benefited from the practice and would like to download the audio version to your device to conveniently carry with you wherever and whenever you need it most, head over to my (re)store and download it now.

 

As always, thanks for practicing with me! xo, Kris

A short practice to relax the body & refocus the mind

A short & simple yoga break, perfect for when you need to get out of your head and into your body. Feel free to use this mindful practice to prepare for seated meditation, release general tension or to refocus a scattered brain. A couple blankets and/or large towels may be useful.

 

Enjoy, Kris

Yoga for Stress Relief – A Mindful and Calming Video Practice

Yoga for Stress – a ‘yoga break’ to get you away from your work and into your body. Think more ease, less strain, mindful movements and conscious breathing. The sequence and techniques will help you move from the ‘flight or fight’ high alert sympathetic nervous system to the calmer ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system.  This particular ‘yoga break’ is perfect for transitioning from your work day into a relaxing evening at home.

 

Give it a go and then you’ll know – if you benefit from the practice it’s yours.  Feel free to leave comments or ask questions.  I love hearing from you!  Thanks for practicing with me.  xo, Kris

Moon Mountain Home aka Reality House – Magictown, USA

When Paul and I moved to Western North Carolina it was with a dream to one day create a retreat center, which we named Moon Mountain Retreat.  For now we are renting this beautiful home that I have become fond of calling Moon Mountain Home, a reminder of why we came here.  My dreams feel supported in what is actually named the ‘Reality House.’  The homeowners, Lee Ann and Tony, also a professional poet and actor, explained how they didn’t want to have a dream house when they could have a real one.  Well Paul and I are certainly glad they do and that we have the good fortune of calling it our home, too.

 

Feel free to follow me on Instagram, where you can see more photos like these.  I’m also attempting to do a ‘365 project’ where I take 1 moment each day for a year to be where I am and notice the now.  I’m using the hashtags #365moments and #beherenow if you feel inspired to join me.  I mean, I may not even make it through all 365 days, and that’s okay.  One day at a time friends.  In fact, one moment at a time really.

 

Peace xo,

Kris Moon