The Black Girl In Om List: jessamyn stanley

Interview and introduction by Lauren Ash. Photography courtesy Jessamyn Stanley.

Photo by jena cumbo photography headshot 1 (3).jpeg

The Realest


We have a lot to celebrate this year with yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley—her first book, Every Body Yoga recently reached its one year-mark, her podcast Jessamyn Explains it All recently wrapped up season one, and, most praiseworthy: Jessamyn has embraced new definitions of success more related to the inner. Why is it that we celebrate certain wins over others (often prioritizing external success above personal growth)? Sure, the deserved attention she’s garnered in Yoga Journal, The New York Times, Shape, and more matter, but, as Lauryn so eloquently put it: how you gon’ win when you ain’t right within? Longstanding body positive champion with tell-it-like-it-is-candor that we love at team BGIO, Jessamyn reminds us to keep it real in a world that is increasingly surface. Just look to Jessamyn’s insights in our conversation on how to connect more spiritually with everyone you meet…and then try putting it into practice this week. She’s @JessamynStanley on Instagram, in case you’re not already hip, and we hope this realness she shared with us during our #BGIOMindful Chat on Revolutionizing Your Wellness encourages you to press the follow button.

How do you stay rooted?

I stay rooted by always trying to remember where I come from. And [I’m] always trying to use that as an anchor to this present moment. click to tweet When I think about calling from the past it’s really just trying to remember who I am really am — beyond who I could confuse myself for or who other people might want me to be or whatever the world is asking me to be. Remembering who I really am and using that as the ultimate source of strength.

What is one area of your life where you are calling in an energy of expansion?

I think in terms of my personal relationships — all of my friendships. Over the last couple of years its been a weird combination of focusing really entirely on my yoga practice … I remember having teachers that would share that there are people who will be in your life now that will not be in your life after time. [They shared that] you're not even going to try to get rid of anybody they just won't be there. So, over the last couple of years it’s that combined with a major shift in my professional life and the way that I live my life. It has shifted so much that there are a lot of people who used to be crucial who are no longer really in my life. Then there are people who I'm very hesitant to be close with because I have, as a part of these last few years become very closed off to new people, and that I think that has been really limiting to me in a lot of ways.

This came up in a reading for me the other day: release trying to fix what happened or trying to go back over things and just come into a space of anything is possible. So if there are relationships that I have let go to the wayside or if there are people who I could be there for just be there for them. You don't have to try and go back and fix it or go into this huge apology. To understand that as I evolve there is new space here for new people and even if there are people I would not have known before and perhaps I would feel differently about them at a different point in my life that’s neither here nor there. There is space so allow it to be filled.

And keep making space too.

What are ways we can connect more spiritually with others on a daily basis?

For me, trying to remember that there is a spirit in every being and that spirit is my spirit. We are all connected. Just trying to remember that. That is really hard to remember whenever someone is standing directly on the precipice of your nerves. When they are unrelenting, giving no fucks about you or anything else, and remembering that this person is trying the fuck out of me, that this person is [still] a part of the infinite light. They are out here being affected by sources unseen to me. They probably got people in their lives that make them feel terrible, that make them feel not worthy, and the best thing I can do is come to them remembering that. Remembering that we are the same. At root we are exactly the same. It’s hard though.

Amen. I’m going to print that out and put it on my mirror. If you had to describe your journey from root to rise in 3 words what would those words be?

Blessed, fertile, and infinite.

How has your definition of success evolved as you've risen into who you are today?

I think that like any kid who grew up not having anything, there is way too much of an emphasis on monetary success and that has definitely changed for me. Understanding that money and power are inevitably corrupt and that there is nothing that I could ever receive financially that I could not receive 10 times better spiritually. There is no amount. There's nothing, none of it matters. It could be completely absent. There could be no monetary gain, there could be no status growth, there could be no power and that experience would be way more worthwhile to me. That is something that I definitely did not feel before the last couple of years, honestly. And it's something that has completely motivated me moving forward. So, I feel that the meter for success is much more directly tied to the energy — what the energy feels like and how that energy affects myself and other people. If the energy is good, and the energy feels of use, and a positive thing to put back into this wave of energy that we all have together than that’s dope. If it's not then that's not something I need even if it’s something that someone else considers success.

That’s how I’m headed into 2019.

That’s the tone. Do it because it’s good energy. Even if it’s something that someone else might not like. Good energy is good energy.

How do you polish your inner voice to ensure that the dialogue is one of abundance?

I'm always trying to check my inner voice to hear if it is taking on the tone of other people's voices. It is really easy for me to be out here hearing a voice that sounds super true and then I run it back and that's just me regurgitating what I think somebody else or something else is asking of me. I mic-check the inner voice, like "who is this?" Cause we be out here getting confused.

What is something that no longer served you that you recently replaced with something more wholesome?

All of the things I've replaced I'd say I'm working to replace. The 21 days are over but we're still working on it for sure. Not being as emotionally abusive toward myself. My parents are really emotionally abusive towards themselves so that's something that like perfectionism, that need to like always have it right and then if it's not whatever right is and if it's not right then berating myself. It's emotional self- flagellation. It is so useless and ultimately just wastes time. It breaks me down. I don't come back from it feeling good. I'm trying to understand that its okay to be complimentary, it's okay to reach for the positive thing as opposed to the negative thing. But it is a practice not a perfect.

Receive something meaningful from this phenomenal woman? These 20 black women embody our mission fully. And their journeys over the past year illuminate what it means to root to rise. Share with us on social how you plan on doing the same in the year to come. #BGIORootToRise