Jessamyn Stanley: If I Ruled The World

Jessamyn Stanley is an internationally acclaimed voice in wellness who is highly sought after for her insights on 21st-century yoga and intersectional identity

 All bodies would be considered powerful, equal, and necessary. Everybody is necessary and we’re not all meant to look the same. We should celebrate what makes us unique. We should showcase our scars, smile at our wounds, and laugh about our healing. Your journey is why you are here, and your body tells the story of your journey. Don’t denigrate it because other people don’t understand it. Body shaming other people only happens when we body shame ourselves.

We’d understand that there can be no healing that we can do for our society that we are not practicing within ourselves. Healing has become a buzzword, and it’s true that there’s a great need for collective healing on a global scale. But there will be no healing on a global scale if we do not heal ourselves individually. Otherwise, we are just perpetuating the same cycle of violence that we experience internally. You have to accept the complications of your identity and what it means to sit at the centre of many different intersections. From that space of acceptance blooms compassion and when you practise compassion for yourself, it becomes possible to reflect it to other people. That’s how we heal our society—we start by looking within ourselves.

Love would always be the answer. No matter what you choose, love is always the result. Even when it doesn’t look like the traditional definition of love. Even if it looks like hate. What looks least like love is always the product of fear—fear of growth, fear of truth.

And even when you experience fear and it further mutates into hate, it still always blossoms into love. And if you accept that love is always the answer, it makes the difficulty of answering life’s questions a little more bearable.

Our freedom would be our privilege. You were free from the moment you were born. No one can take it away from you. But there are so many forces trying to own you—nations, ideologies, other people. But none of them can own the spirit that lives inside you, that burns bright every day. And it’s important for all of us to be free—as long as even one of us is not free, none of us can be free.

We’d live in the moment. In my opinion, one of the greatest lessons of pandemic life has been to live right now, today. Don’t take this moment for granted. Live in the present moment, no matter the cost. (Literally) stop and smell the flowers. Smile for no reason other than being alive. Hug the people you love and tell them what they mean to you. Find a way to enjoy this moment because it’s always all we have.

We’d protect our time. At all costs, value your time and protect it. Do not spend time with people who drain your energy and manipulate your time. Leave out tasks and jobs that leave you feeling unfulfilled. Treat your time like it’s your greatest asset which, of course, it is. It’s all any of us have in the end. 

We’d rest much more. If I were in charge of the world, I would definitely consider mandating naps. There’s a reason we always put kids to bed when they’re cranky. Adults need the same thing. Spain’s got the right idea with siestas—we all need to rest so our mind and body can relax and catch up with one another. 

Jessamyn's new book, YOKE: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance, is out now  

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