We sat down with Quilt woman Jana Roemer - Yoga Nidra teacher and a Midwife of Awakening. She shared with us her story and battles along the way that led to her finding her true north. We talk perfectionism, self sabotage and compassion. Check out some raw advice Jana shares with us from her winding journey.
Q: Can you share about your background and upbringing? How has your background and upbringing influenced the woman you are today?
A: I was raised on an acreage outside of a small town Saskatchewan, Canada. There were 150 people on two streets shaped like a cross just off the side of a quiet highway. Our property had a river running around it and there were wild animals who often showed up curious as to what this house was doing in their playground. My Mom was and still is an incredible woman who created a beautifully skewed version of reality where all mamas loved their kids unconditionally. My Dad grew up in a family that did things a little differently than my mom's family. He was the kid who moved out when he was 17 and swore he would raise his kids differently than he was raised. He was incredibly supportive and always reminded me that I could do anything I set my mind to and that he believed in me. My parents always had my back. Yet, I had a deeply rooted belief that I wasn't lovable which caused me to sabotage most friendships and created social anxiety for the majority of my life until I was in my early 30's. It’s a strange polarity, because there was a confidence inside of me, but extremely sensitive and overly emotional, and the world's reactions to me were so different than my intentions, which left me feeling confused and often rejected.
Even with that confidence, depression was no stranger. Rounds started young, in single digits. There have been cycles of really dark times and each time, it was me who pulled myself out. Each time, a Spiritual journey ignited that evolved and changed over the years in radically different ways. I remember being so angry with God as a teenager that I became an Atheist because all the promises of God saving me or answering prayers turned out to be false by my teenaged perceptions and desires. It took the deaths of two high school friends and a random run in with a psychic in my early 20's to re-ignite my faith, but this time, in a more esoteric and intuitive way. As early as I can remember the sky was always my solstice. I would stare at that moon and contemplate life. I watched the stars and always wondered which one I came from (my dad always referred to the times before I was born as when I was a twinkle in the sky). One of my favorite contemplations from the time I was 7 or 8 years old was on infinity. Time alone in nature was my savior and safe place. I knew all the constellations and my journal was my best friend.
It took five years from the moment I knew I needed to teach, to actually start teaching.
In my Saturn return, I was a little shit. Drinking excessively, cheating on my then long distance boyfriend with a thrill seeking, successful man who loved the chase and challenge of landing a taken women - he fulfilled everything I wasn't getting in the relationship. When I finally broke it off with my long distance boyfriend, the affair dude lost interest and disappeared into a new scandalous relationship. My boyfriend and I rekindled our love, moved to a new city together and then life literally kicked my ass one day on the ski hill and landed me in the hospital flat out with a broken back. I had no local long time friends, my boyfriend was out of town and I received the greatest gift of my life: 10 days immobilized, laying down in a hospital, alone with nothing to do but take a long, hard look at my life. Those 10 days and the two surgeries bookending that year were the beginning of my journey back to my heart and Soul.
Everything changed. After breaking my back and using yoga to heal not only my physicality, but my heart, it was strikingly apparent that I could no longer ignore the call to share this practice with as many people as I could. That has turned into a decade long career teaching people how to teach yoga through 200 and 300 hour YTT's and now, Yoga Nidra trainings. That role has inspired me to be the biggest nerd student and study with the best teachers I could find so that I can cultivate the best teachers possible to share the practice with even more people than I could ever reach on my own. It's a beautiful ripple affect. Yet, I have to confess: My motivation isn't about creating more yoga teachers. It's about utilizing that structure to connect and provide experiences for people to fall in love with themselves, to forgive themselves and to connect with their greatest purpose for being. Out of each 200 hour YTT, if only a third of the people teach, I feel okay with that, as long as they all leave feeling more connected to themselves, their hearts and their purpose.
If I'm really honest -- those years as a little shit, partying, traveling and utter irresponsibility have been as valuable to me in finding my way as the effort I have put toward restoring the light and joy in my life. There was something so important about rebelling from my upbringing and famiyl values that couldn't have come any other way.
It all influences.
Q: This month, we’re exploring Compassion. Can you tell us about a moment that required you to find more compassion towards yourself or someone else than you ever thought possible? How did you go about doing this?
A: I actually think the experience cheating on that long distance boyfriend that was the beginning of compassion for me. Had I not lived that, I would have remained judgmental toward anyone who isn't 'perfect' or acts out of alignment with societal expectations. I deeply understood how being hurt and unseen could cause someone to seek love outside of partnership. I understood the pain of being the one who caused another to be hurt. AND it was key in unraveling the strange expectations that society places on us that we just accept as normal when they are really damaging. I had to forgive myself for so much selfish behavior in that relationship and was amazed at my boyfriend’s ability to forgive me. I learned the power of honesty when we started sorting through it all. I told him everything because the only way for me to be able to continue on was to come completely clean. In the end it didn’t work, but wow, I learned more from that relationship then I ever could have imagined. I’m forever grateful for that time.
Q: How do you practice compassion even when it’s difficult? Is there a go to quote, book, method that helps you when you’re struggling to practice compassion?
A: The main thing that I remind myself is that we never know anyone else's story or needs. We don't know where they have walked and the life curriculum they have been schooled in. I've had to strengthen my trust in that everyone does the best they can with where they are and remember that we are all fighting a tough battle.
Astrology consistently brings me back to compassion too! Every natal chart I read, I am reminded that we are all trying, we are all confronted, we are all wounded, we are all longing to love and be loved. We all perceive and receive information differently. Our understanding of reality is radically different and our upbringing influences us in ways unseen. A few years back, I lost a dear girlfriend to a situation that we both experienced so differently that we couldn't even talk about it because we weren't having the same conversation. We both had our childhood wounds re-opened and unmet needs that made it impossible for us to see each other. It was me having an opportunity to look at her chart and what she was contending with through her personal astrology that allowed me to peel back the vice grips on my own painful reactions and have compassion for her pain. Ultimately, neither of us were fighting with the other, we were only in a battle with ourselves. We’re friends again. Thank goodness! Phew!
Q: What advice would you give to a woman who’s battling perfectionism?
A: You mean, what words do I give myself daily to continue on, to hit publish or to be easy on myself? Hahaha! I actually love the advice that we don't have to be perfect to publish or present, we just have to do it with our heart and soul. I still battle with my own blocks around perfectionism, so I might not be the best person to ask. I have learned to seek advice from people who have over come the same difficulties I am traversing. Maybe let someone else be the inspo for this one! Hahaha! My regular practice is to be gentle and forgiving with myself.
Who are some of the women that have inspired you throughout your life? What did they teach you?
My Mom is forever my number one. I could cry just thinking about what she has done for me this life.
My current inspiration is a woman named Tanis Fishman. She is the woman who escorted me into the deepest dive into my psyche and gave me the tools to heal my inner world like no other by teaching me how to guide the practice of Yoga Nidra. She pushed me out of my comfort zone with teaching challenges. She is humble and one of the most respectful and selfless teachers I have had the honor of studying with so far. She taught me humility and has set a new bar on how to be respectful of the students that come through courses and grow into teachers in their own right. Everything she has given me is still unfolding and I haven't found the bottom of the depth she has offered.
Every woman I have been in conflict with, felt jealous or envious of, confronted or rejected – they teach me so much. It’s not the easy kind of lesson, but the kinds of lessons forcing me to dig into myself and rise up. They have all taught me aspects of my relationship with my own power.
Q: What is your favorite part of your home?
A: My little desk, all my plants and my books.
Quick fire (keep to one sentence or a couple of words):
Q: What books do you recommend most often?
A: The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza and Self Observation by Red Hawk – required reading for life + my trainings ;-)
Q: Where do you go when you need to recharge?
A: Yoga Nidra, the beach or to stare at the moon and stars. Solitude in any form. Float tanks!
Q: What is your favorite drink or food to make when you have people over to your house?
A: Raw chocolate, a superfood elixir or anything with avocado
Q: To be a woman in American today is…
A: …radically diverse
Q: One thing I wish more people knew about is…
A:…the power of stillness + the journey into the inner world