Moun D' Simone
At Sakara HQ, we fully believe in the power of thoughts to things. We've been witness to the transformation that takes place— the opportunities that present themselves, the people who show up, the love that starts flowing— once we direct our mind, retrain our thoughts and change the narrative. Tapping into this intuition first requires a focus on one's breath and the present moment, which is why we asked Moun D' Simone, to stop into our office a few times each month for a morning team meditation. We had the honor of chatting with the dynamic, modern meditation coach about her story on how to incorporate this essential self-love practice into your daily life. Read more to discover how to create your own personal mantra, why eating plant-based brought her clarity, and in what ways we can access our heart's desires, through the connection of mind and body.
Can you tell us a little bit about what your life was like before meditation? What was the journey that led you to where you are now?
Meditation became my life’s mission when it transformed me and helped me heal from my early life struggles of self-loathing, eating disorder, and anxiety. I discovered who I truly was and was no longer afraid to be myself.
I was told I was going to be a model from the early age of 13 because I was tall and skinny. That set a heavy and negative imprint on my ideas of body image, creativity, and it shaped my relationship to food. I struggled with an eating disorder for many years, cultivated ulcers and was constantly operating from a compete/compare mindset.
I dropped out of college and moved to NY when I was 21 and soon after got into Bravo TV’s “Make Me A Supermodel”. It was a very interesting experience. They wanted a blank canvas, but more and more I began to notice how much I had to say, and how much I actually wanted to create and be free.
There were fun moments, of course, especially when I lived in Paris and London, but when I came back to NYC, my brother Sah D’Simone was starting Bullett Magazine, and asked me to be the photo director.
I was completely disassociated with my body from binge eating, to not eating, to drugs and alcohol, all to hide and suppress my feelings. I had become a master at wearing the "everything is okay mask". On the outside was a perfect-looking existence: a cute boyfriend, an apartment on Broome Street, a dream job, yet on the inside, I was rotting.
I left the magazine when I discovered an acting class. It was my first spiritual experience. I could express my emotions, and be fully myself. I felt alive. Still hooked on some old limiting beliefs, my career only went as far as auditions and many classes, but I was happier than before because I had found a way to be me.
Your brother Sah is also a meditation expert. How did you two end up on the same path?
In the spring of 2014, Sah came back from his first pilgrimage to India and stayed with me. His stories led me to question my whole existence in a new way I had never really done before. That summer I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years, saved enough money and bought myself a one-way ticket to India.
I wanted to see what it was he had found, this light inside of him had surfaced. I knew then my life, too, would never be the same again. The way he ate, walked, listened, there was a subtle gentle, spaciousness to his being. I realized it was triggering me to seek answers to questions I had buried for way too long.
Bodh Gaya was my first stop, the place where Buddha became enlightened. I met my first teacher, the incredibly witty and profound Ven. Sarah Thresher, an English Buddhist Nun, during my first 10-day silent retreat. That was the beginning of my life, I was broken open, I felt anger, sadness, grief, joy, hope like I had never before. She showed me that I had the potential to not be so angry all of the time, that I could live a life I was truly proud and excited about.
I learned the inner workings of my mind, what was mine, what was my mother’s, and how to forgive. The long road of forgiveness. I was shattered, I cried more than I had ever before, I started to pick up the pieces that were truly me. I saw a glimpse of the true inherent nature of my heart.
I traveled through India, Thailand, Indonesia and the US for about 2 years. I studied with some of the masters of our time in Yoga and Tibetan Buddhism. I was guided to start sharing the tools that transformed me.
The journey is long and lonely at times, yet I would not want to be doing anything else - I now know there is no trauma big enough that cannot be healed. I am grateful to live a life of service where I share the tools that have saved my life.
How would you describe what you do now? How do you give people the tools to manifest their dreams and goals?
I combined the tools that have and continue to heal me. From yoga, meditation, contemplative psychotherapy, breath-work, storytelling, and visualization in a dynamic method. It's a method that supports us to heal our relationships with our bodies and selves as a means to accessing true embodiment.
It begins with much courage to want to change, and go inside yourself in meditation. You start to notice your thoughts, your subconscious agreements and what you believe to be true about yourself and what's possible for you. So much of what we believe about ourselves was developed through an interaction of multiple factors; genetic, developmental, psychological, social, and cultural. That being a factor to keeping us from being able to manifest our dream lives. Practicing these healing tools are ways in which we are able to work out old hypnotic patterns and start to uncover our inherent emotional resilience. We begin to live in the present moment without being caught up on the mind’s racing thoughts of past and future.
The first step is the breath as that is the easiest and fastest tool we have access to for our bodies, and therefore our heart. Giving us the space to begin to proactively respond to life, rather than react and continue to recreate the past. In that space between stimulus and response is where the magic sauce lives, in that space is where we have the opportunity to re-center, to come back to the present moment and make a different and empowered choice. One that serves our expansion and healing. We are worthy of living a life filled with moments of joy. This practice is a moment to moment awareness and possibility.
How do we work to change the narrative of ourselves and change our neural pathways?
Coming back to the present moment, with the support of our breath and doing an instant cognitive reframe, asking yourself if the story is even true. Choosing an empowered mantra is a great reminder to yourself to reframe your thoughts.
It can be as simple as "I am enough". Doing a writing prompt can get the stories out of your mind, and notice how ridiculous they are. It doesn’t happen overnight, it is like any other workout, you have to do it every day. Gift your mind a new idea of who you and who you can be.
We are all made of the same thing, the same potential, and the same capacity. The more we do this work the more familiar it becomes. Meditating on the breath helps us to create that space I mentioned, giving us the choice to offer this gift to your mind, with so much kindness and self-compassion. Putting ourselves down will NOT take us anywhere but recreate the same old.
Becoming aware of the internal dialogue is key; when you notice a negative narrative about yourself, respond with warmth, gentle touch, and soft vocalization. Use our innate Mammalian caregiving system, as if you were speaking to a child, or to your young. Tell yourself you are okay, you are safe, and you are enough. Ask for forgiveness and continue to offer yourself this gift of a new belief system.
Can you explain mantra work and how we can create a mantra that holds meaning for us? Where do we start?
Mantra is a simple affirmation, a reminder, a tool to bring you back to your center whenever you feel disconnected. It can be as simple as I am worthy, or I am here. It needs to be something that resonates and rings true to each person individually. I always ask my clients and students, what would you like someone else to tell you to remind you of you who are when you are “offline”.
We are often seeking outside approval and wanting others to tell us that we are good, and safe. This practice is about you doing that to yourself, because that is the only way it will truly sink in, and create a new imprint, start a new chapter. I say, keep it simple and make it yours; nobody else needs to like or approve of it. Say it in the present tense, and as often as you can. Set a reminder on your phone, put it on the refrigerator, this way we are rewriting our neurotransmitters and giving ourselves new priorities.
The incredibly powerful and profound Loving Kindness Meditation revolves around the repetition of the mantras: may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I live with ease, the offering of these as gifts to ourselves and others. It strengthens the parts of our brain that is connected to love, compassion, creativity, and joy. The amygdala, our stress response, actually decreases in size, through neuroplasticity, after focusing on meditation. Science is finally catching up to these ancient tools.
Who are your own personal teachers that inspire you and help your heart expand?
What about your go-to podcasts?
- Real Love with Sharon Salzberg
- Be Here and Now with Ram Dass
- Dharma Seed talks with Ven. Pannavati Bhikkhuni
And wellness spaces?
- In NYC: Tibet House, Bhakti Center, Maha Rose, Three Jewels
- In NY Area: the Omega Institute, Menla Mountain Retreat
- In LA: Bhakti Yoga Shala, Yogala
How has your relationship with your body evolved over time?
On one of my trips to India, I immersed myself in yoga, that was when I truly met my body for the first time and witnessed its wisdom and powers. It took much self-compassion and forgiveness, since I had neglected and harmed my body for so long. It was very humbling to be in the back of the room, practicing asana from 4:30 AM and seeing new memories come up through the practice of opening my body, since trauma is not only stored in our memory, but also physically. I began to fall in love with my body. I began understanding that only through my body could I get beyond the body.
Some of those patterns still come up from time to time, from so many ideas of believing I had to look a certain way; because I have a spiritual practice and a home-base in my heart that, it's not as though those thoughts are all gone. It takes work, yet I now have much more space to notice when they arise and use the tools to move through it.
I have developed an honest relationship with my body, my house. I am in the practice of living embodied, moment to moment coming back to my senses, through my breath to what is right here, in this present moment. Finding the unity between my body and mind as a way into my heart.
How do we work through our body image issues?
Be open about how you are feeling, not allowing yourself to believe the old stories, because our past does not define who we are. Once you take a breath and come back to the moment, you have a chance to see what is really present rather than the stories you've told yourself. Be courageous to express yourself and remember you are never alone.
Practices such as mirror meditation are powerful; meaning, you are seeing the body just as it is. Accepting it, which doesn’t mean resigning it but just that you know there is another way out. Peeling away the layers of body shame, body dysmorphia with gentle, loving, nurturing movement, mantras (I love my beautiful, powerful, strong body), and writing. Looking for the beauty and gratitude for simply being alive and having a healthy body. Instead of looking at a flaw with a massive magnifying glass, I offer it love and kindness again!
How has nutrition played a role in your healing?
Nutrition has and continues to play a massive role in my life. Our gut is our second brain. If our gut is inflamed then so is our mind, creating fog, fatigue, and inability to decide and stay clear on our individual mission. It doesn’t matter if you meditate, practice asana, and still eat poorly - the transformation and healing only goes so far, we are holistic beings, therefore our transformation needs to be the whole mind-body-heart.
When I became plant-based that’s when everything really shifted. I felt more clear than ever before, the cravings started to disappear and I developed an honest relationship with what and how I ate. I reached a place where I became an intuitive eater, and was guided to what my body actually needed. Especially as a woman, I know what my body needs before my moon, during, and after. A few things that are key for me, for clarity and depth of practice and all around presence, are warm lemon water in the morning, room temperature water all day, and to keep my phone on airplane mode until after I finish my morning meditation.
What other tools do you incorporate into your everyday life when it comes to balancing your mind, body, heart?
Eating a 50% raw foods diet, having my last meal by 7:30PM and being in bed by 10:30PM (as often as possible), pause for gratitude and prayer before each meal, chew chew chew, and as often as possible only eat without multitasking, notice textures, tastes, smells, and to develop a relationship with our food. I take ashwagandha, neem, and magnesium daily.
Exercise in the morning, whether it’s a 20 minute asana practice at home, a class or a run, that sets the tone for my day, followed by a super leafy green salad with avocado for lunch or a plant protein smoothie, if you can’t make time in the morning then at some point in the day. Definitely exercise, sweat at least 4 times a week, to purify and cleanse, not only our largest organ (our skin), but also get all those happy hormones fired up! Self-care internal and external upkeep! Time alone, not only during meditation, self-care, integration, writing, or simply taking myself on a walk, trying new things, pushing my comfortable edge. Staying inspired, and surrounding myself with those that feed me is always an even exchange of energy; both parties feel supported.
We like to end on a note of legacy and the mark you'd like to leave on the world. Can you share what that word brings up for you and your bigger vision of yourself?
I want to be remembered as a person who shared her heart with all. Who reminded people that we are worthy of being who we truly are. I want to leave a legacy of acceptance, forgiveness, and self-love.