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It’s Time to Add Moon Gazing to Your Meditation Practice
Credit: Getty Images

Maybe you're a full-on lunar aficionado who makes a point to stay in the know on the moon cycles, concocts your own moon water, or occasionally uses a stargazing app to check out which constellations are overhead. Or maybe you've just always found the sight of the moon alluring and you can't quite put your finger on why. Either way, you might find yourself attracted to the idea of moon gazing, a mind-body practice that can become part of your regular meditation routine.

Here, more details on what moon gazing is, its physical and mental benefits, and how to make it a part of your spiritual regimen.

Moon Gazing, Explained

While the idea of moon gazing — which, precisely as it sounds, involves gazing at the moon — may sound more woo-woo than throwing on your Calm or Headspace app, it's a practice that's been enjoyed for thousands of years. 

"Ancient stargazers planned their life around the cycles of the moon — and even believed that moon gazing helped them attune to the current energy of the moon," explains Narayana Montufar, author of Moon Signs: Unlock Your Inner Luminary Power, who adds that it's no wonder we're so drawn to the celestial body given its proximity to Earth.

"​​This automatically gives it more prominence, energetically speaking," notes Montufar. "This phenomenon can be seen in the ongoing movement of tides of the ocean, which many times reflect the emotional ups and downs we experience." And just as the moon affects our tides, it can also affect us, allowing us to attune to the current energy at play and providing us with the ability to center ourselves, she points out.

In astrology, the moon acts as our emotional compass and rules the unconscious mind. So when you moon gaze, you're working with this part of yourself. "And since the moon also relates to feminine energy in its purest forms, when we gaze at the moon, we open ourselves to receive the type of nurturance that we could only receive from our mothers or grandmothers," says Montufar. 

It's not an entirely cerebral experience either, adds Lauren Donelson, LMFTA, a therapist and astrologer in Seattle, Washington. "Moon gazing can be a tool to help you connect with your body," she explains. "Many people experience intuitive information through their bodies, like a gut feeling. Working with the moon can help strengthen your intuition."

How to Moon Gaze

To simply moon gaze — and not necessarily meditate — you don't need to follow any particular step-by-step protocol. Instead, it's about tapping into your intuition and exploring what feels right for you, says Sadie Bingham, LICSW, a therapist based in Gig Harbor, Washington. 

Here are a few places to start, according to Bingham and other experts.

Go With Your Gut

"When working with moon gazing, let your inner knowing come to fruition," encourages Katie Silcox, author of Healthy Happy Sexy: Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women and founder of the Shakti School. "Don't get caught up in the inner dialogue of, 'Am I doing this right or wrong?' Simply ask, 'Can I bring the fullness of who I am to this light, and can I open myself to receiving it in return?'" 

Silcox says it's not uncommon for people to experience dramatic and healing images, sensations, and emotional releases as they tune to the healing force of the moon. 

Set an Intention

Donelson likes to set the intention that you're going to moon gaze while noting the moon phase. "I prefer to moon gaze on a full moon night, but you can choose any phase," she says. "If the moon is new or waxing, think of something you'd like to grow. If the moon is full or waning, think of something you'd like to let go of. Hold that idea in your mind as you moon gaze."

Talk to the Moon

Bingham, who echoes Montufar's sentiment that the moon offers a feminine, protective energy, says she finds comfort in talking to the moon, perhaps asking a question about a particular emotional struggle she might be going through like, 'Why am I feeling so alone, scared, and vulnerable?'

How to Practice Moon Gazing Meditation

Moon gazing meditation is a bit more of an intentional experience stemming from the yogic technique Trataka (steady gazing), according to Pareen Sehat, a registered clinical counselor with Well Beings Counseling in Vancouver, Canada. 

To start, she recommends sitting by yourself in an open space, if possible, in order to appreciate the beauty of the moon. Then, close your eyes and inhale, she suggests. As you exhale, open your eyes and focus on the moon.

Silcox advises gazing at the moon with curiosity. Think about its shape and contours as if you were observing an object you really love, she suggests. 

"Feel that, as you breathe and observe, you can begin to pull the cooling qualities of the moonlight into you, filling your body with this healing light," says Silcox. "The ancients poetically called meditation 'being pierced by the moon.'"

A moon gazing meditation session can range in time from three to 30 minutes, notes Sehat.

Benefits of Moon Gazing

Whether you're simply moon gazing or meditating while moon gazing, your breath will slow, and ideally, your exhales will become longer than your inhales, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). In ancient Ayurveda, the PSNS is associated and most affected by moonlight and is connected to rest, sex, and easy digestion, says Silcox. Meanwhile, Trataka has been linked to reduced anxiety and improved cognitive function in older adults.

At its core, moon gazing is an opportunity to feel more connected to nature, which studies say bolsters psychological well-being. 

"Our connection to ourselves is directly linked to our connection to nature," points out Bingham. "When we are in our minds, our own worlds and lives can feel small and our problems too big. When we contemplate nature — and the moon — we are reminded that this universe is vast, and we are a small speck within it. That often doesn't leave us feeling more alone, but instead brings our problems back into perspective."