Over the last several weeks we’ve been introducing you to the faces behind Being Human. Our goal with these interviews is to offer you a small glimpse into the heart and story of another person, so that we can build connection through our shared humanity. Rob Bell likes to say, “The real art is: Can I look far enough inside of you to find me?”
It is our biggest hope that you would uncover surprising commonalities, seek to understand more, and practice empathy as you read through these interviews.
With that said, we’d like you to meet Jane Woods. Jane is a writer, spiritual companion, former yoga teacher, and contemplative idealist trying very hard to be present with her two small children. Her curiosity seems to be its own universe which, like our universe, is ever-expanding. Currently studying the practices of G.I. Gurdjieff and deep-diving on her own feminine wholeness, Jane constantly wonders what it’s all about, why we came, and how to heal. “Hot Bath with a Book” and “Chai Tea Latte” are her love languages.
And now onto the conversation with Jane!
The first question is always this: What emotions, images, thoughts, or ideas come to you when you hear the phrase “being human”?
I think about how I could answer this question a hundred different ways in a hundred different moments because of being human. We are so changeable. Especially if we are interested in changing. “Being human” is like a snake that molts forever. Being human also brings to mind the body. It is our expression through a certain type of body that makes us human and not something else. Being human is a deeply embodied experience; it relies on our tissue and bones. I tend to think the extent to which I truly experience being human is directly proportional to the extent that I am aware of my bones. What shape are they making in this moment right now? and now and now.
Perhaps, for me, being human is the exquisite attempt to stay absolutely present to our ever-changing soul in the cradle of our bones.
In your evolution and growth as a human – what are 1 or 2 moments that stand out to you as transformative in your perspective on life and/or your relationship with the Divine/God?
I think this is a difficult question to answer because it implies that there is -a- moment of transformation. And, sometimes, I believe there is. I’ve been blessed with the grace of a few mystical visions and when I initially hear the question, I’m reminded of the year my husband and I spent apprenticing on a farm in our mid-twenties. It wasn’t a single moment, but over the span of several months, uprooted from our church and thrust into the bowels of mother nature, I began to realize my interconnectedness to all things. During that time, I was also introduced to Native American spirituality and alchemized by sweat lodges and animal medicine.
So perhaps there have been seasons of deep transformation, and yet, it feels like this journey has been mostly a slow drip. Like the shifting of tectonic plates, it’s almost imperceivable, but then, I pause to take stock and realize I’m almost unrecognizable from myself a year ago.
What are some of the unique and/or basic contemplative practices that you have in your life?
Centering Prayer was my introduction to contemplative practice about six years ago. I now think about it like my baseline or default practice. I may go weeks without practicing, but I always come back around and settle in again. Instead of using a sacred word in this practice, though, I use a sacred breath. As a yogi, I think this comes most naturally and keeps me embodied during each sit. Though I’m still seeking the proper language, I often serve my clients in the role of “embodiment coach” and stress the significance of bringing our attention back to the body, because the body is always in the present moment.
What new discoveries have you made about yourself recently that you didn’t know before?
I’ve recently been using self-hypnosis and mentoring with a woman named Morgan Day Cecil. Through this process, I started to access some subconscious messaging about my soul’s true longing and purpose. Since I could write, I’ve kept a journal and when I was young, I used to write stories and read them to my parent’s friends. By high school, it was obvious I had a knack and though I initially tried on other paths, I ended up graduating college with an English degree.
I had all the encouragement in the world to bolster me as a writer, but the daughter of a dental hygienist and food broker, I didn’t believe writing was a viable path for someone like me. I took the first administrative assistant job I found and started unconsciously crushing my spirit. Recently, I’ve embarked on a deep shadow dive and I’m now in the process of hiring a writing mentor and reclaiming the work I believe I came here to do. Stay tuned for the book!
Paula D’Arcy says, “God comes to us disguised as our life.” What does this stir up in you and how do you see the truth of it unfolding in your day-to-day?
I’m thankful Paula could capture this mystical truth so succinctly. I’m a mother of two young boys, two and four. I didn’t set out for that. I’m still not sure the householder path is a best-fit for me, and yet, this is the path I am on. And I suppose that’s what it means to me for God to come disguised as my life. Where do I find myself? With whom am I bonded? What work has been entrusted to me?
If I can just notice and consent, I am in flow with the movement of Spirit through me. If it’s kids, it’s kids. If it’s sticky floors and stained laundry, then let it be sticky floors and stained laundry. You remember what St. Teresa said: God is in the pots and pans. I have to believe this: before me – whatever it is – is precisely the work my soul needs to expand.
What are some things you do to nurture your soul and practice self-compassion?
I have an Instagram friend whose bio says: moving at the speed of soul. And this is what I think about when I consider my practice of self-compassion. I can only get done what I can reasonably get done, while still nurturing my soul. Soul-nurturing for me is often…
- an Epsom salt bath or a walk in the cemetery I love, sometimes it’s sitting silently against a tombstone warm from the sun.
- I get up every morning before my kids, just to be alone in the dark even if I only end up piddling around and starting the coffee.
- But usually, I crack open my journal or spin around on my mat, take some deep breaths and meditate.
- I try to let myself eat what I really want and drink plenty of water.
- I walk instead of drive whenever I can.
- I don’t do two things at once.
- And then I radically accept whatever got done was just right and more than enough.
What currently makes you excited to wake up and be alive in this world?
I am sincerely so inspired to join the effort in raising our collective consciousness at this juncture in human evolution. The more I individually wake up, the more I believe in my cosmic role and contribution. While I accept that it may be many millennia before it’s realized, I believe Heaven on earth is a viable possibility and I’ve devoted my life to the hope.
Now, it’s your turn. Where do you see yourself in Jane, what ignited your spirit as you read through her responses? Perhaps there was a word, a practice, a concept, an idea she presented that really jumped out at you. Whatever it was, jot it down and explore it further!
If you’d like to connect more with Jane you can read her latest articles on Being Human here or keep up with her lovely work over on Instagram, where she seeks to be a companion to others on this spiritual journey to holistic wellness!