meditation

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

 

 

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 a Good Night – A Lovely Practice to Help You Sleep Well

Yoga-for-Good-Night-ThumbnailAt the request of two very special students, I have created “Yoga for a Good Night”, a video practice intended to help you sleep well.   Together we’ll slip into a state of non-doing, learning ways to calm and quiet the mind.  The practice will end with a guided relaxation intended to lull your nervous system into a state of rest.  This is my first try at a longer video practice that is available as a digital download for purchase, and I’m pretty stoked about it.

 

So if you need help with your zzz’s, please visit my shop to purchase the practice.  And if the price is too steep, I’ve got you.  Try listening to this free guided meditation in your favorite relaxation position, like Vipariti Karani or Legs-up-the-Wall – no idea what that means, learn here.

 

For my Chicago folks, I’m also leading a special 90-minute workshop called Yoga for Insomnia: Improve the Quality and Quantity of your Sleep on Sunday, December 21st.  Give yourself the gift of sleep.  It’s kind of a necessity.  Head here for more details and to sign-up.

 

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or feedback.  I love hearing from you!

 

With love,

Kris Moon

Current Retreat & Workshop Offerings

fallofferings 

Make the most of your Asheville vacation rental with in-home yoga, meditation and relaxation instruction.  Choose from one of the packages below or customize your own personal mini-retreat.   

 

Deep R&R:  Rest deeply and relax completely with a practice that combines restorative yoga and guided meditation.  Props are used to support yoga postures.

 

Stress Reduction: Practice mindful yoga and learn breathing and meditation techniques rooted in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.

 

Detox & Unwind:  Practice warming, slow flow yoga, including postures that flex, extend, invert and revolve the spine combined with specific breathing techniques and guided meditation.

 

Sunrise Practice:  Enjoy a gentle, awakening morning yoga practice with energizing and focusing breath work and mindfulness meditation.

 

Pricing:

– Single sessions start at $100 and discounts are available for multiple sessions

– Price based on a 60-75 minute session for up to 2 people

– All sessions are tailored to accommodate beginning and continuing practitioners.

 

Please send me an email or give me a call at 708-658- GROW (4769) with questions and to schedule your customized personal mini-retreat.

 

I sure hope you enjoy your stay in or near Asheville.  I would be happy to be part of your experience.

 

To learn what others say about their experiences with me, read reviews here

 

Peace to you,
Kris Moon

September Restorative

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Join me for a 2-hour Restorative Yoga Class at Trump Chicago on Sunday, September 14th.

 

Summer can leave us feeling drained and sometimes feeling like we need a vacation from our summer vacation.  If that sounds familiar, then please consider taking time out to take care of yourself so that you don’t get burnt out.  And if you’re already burnt out, then just say yes already.

 

In this 2-hour class, we will blend a slow flow Asana practice with mindful breathing, and combine gentle and supported postures with guided meditation. Aromatherapy and candle light will be used to set the tone for a calming restorative experience.  Not only will you leave feeling rested, we will practice ways to:
  • Calm the nervous system and quiet the mind. 
  • Melt away stored tension and restore wholeness and balance.  
  • Decrease stress and feelings of anxiety. 
  • Increase feelings of inner peace and wellbeing.
No experience necessary.  Just come in comfortable clothing, ready to recharge.
$30 Health Club Members // $40 Trump Tower Residents & *Practice with Kris* Guests 

 

Please register with Caroline Rawlings at crawlings@trumphotels.com // Make a Self-care Sunday out of it. Access to The Spa at Trump amenities, including sauna, steam room, relaxation lounge and heated pool are included with registration. 

June Restorative Class

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Join me for a Gentle Restorative Class at Trump Chicago on Sunday, June 22nd.

 

In this 90-minute class, we’ll blend rhythmic, slow movements with mindful breathing, followed by supported restorative work and guided meditation. Supportive props and aromatherapy will create the perfect environment to release stored tension and rest deeply.  You’ll also take home breathing and meditation techniques to stay cool and calm this summer.

 

$20 Health Club Members // $30 Trump Tower Residents & *Practice with Kris* Guests 

 

Please register with Caroline Rawlings at crawlings@trumphotels.com // Make a Self-care Sunday out of it. Access to The Spa at Trump amenities, including sauna, steam room, relaxation lounge and heated pool are included with registration.