Cultivating the Wisdom of Presence: An Interview with Janet Stone
Janet Stone is a San Francisco-based vinyasa yoga teacher. After 11 years in the Los Angeles film industry, Janet traveled to India, the birthplace of her grandfather, where she dedicated herself to conscious evolution through yoga. She and her writing have been featured in print and online, including in Yoga Journal, Origin, Mantra, and MindBodyGreen.
1440: How does yoga help us come home to ourselves? What aspects of the practice can help us heal inner wounds and get to a place of comfort and connectedness?
Janet Stone: We expend the majority of our energy looking outside of ourselves and comparing, calculating, maneuvering, and managing our external experience.
The journey of turning inward is crucial for coming home to our still point, the place within us that is groundedness itself, compassionate, and ever-present in the midst of life’s ups and downs.
From this point, we can move out into the world with clearer vision and less grasping for outer approval and therefore see others with more compassion.
1440: The world can be a confusing and overwhelming place. How do we remain grounded, centered, and focused in the whirlwind of distraction and stimulation?
Janet Stone: As mentioned above, cultivating a pathway toward an inner still point that can then expand into our daily living. Over nearly 30 years, I’ve found that meditation and nature are two powerful tools to grounding into our deeper wisdom.
1440: You write so elegantly about maintaining hope in a time of pain and conflict. How do you keep your heart lifted? How do you keep fuel on the fire of compassion and vision?
Janet Stone: During the pains and sorrows, loves and loss, the breath keeps coming and going, providing the chance for life itself.
For me this is the wisdom-keeper and the place I return to…present, attentive to the myriad of experience, both that will please me and pain me—it’s life and for that, thank you.
I prefer it to the other option. I’ll take it, gratefully. Also, I have a practice of expanding my view, of opening up from my small, limited perspective to attempt to glimpse a larger view and thus not get lost in momentary dramas.
1440: Where can we apply our yoga practice to everyday living?
Janet Stone: Every day is yoga. Practicing, throughout my day, more kindness toward myself (inner dialogue) and others.
To view the world as allies in your soul’s journey and you in theirs. Moving through my day with momentary pauses to feel into my breath, to the present experiences, before I place a story on top of it.
1440: Can you talk about the relationship between yoga and global community service?
Janet Stone: We cannot separate ourselves, therefore our practice, from the well-being of all. This includes the planet, the balance of the natural world, our consumption/over-consumption. Certainly we go inward, we find the balance point at which to emerge and give our hand so that we may help others up, when they have fallen. We slow down our own consumption as we recognize that we have all we need and all of the stuff we keep buying is perpetuating this imbalance on the planet, does not fill us up.
Global awareness is embedded in self-awareness. Help another.