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January 20, 2023

Now is the Time to Cultivate a Ritual of Rest

By Jordan Rome

There’s a difference between rest and leisure, as well as between rest and laziness. There is a mastery behind each that should be accessible for all, but inherent struggles from personal and collective societal conditioning make it a challenge to achieve. The connotation of each word generates different feelings, sometimes leaning towards lower vibrational emotions such as guilt, shame, inadequacy, and the like. For those of us conditioned under capitalism, we learn that our worth derives from our capacity to produce. Top it off with the onset of a recession and the 21st-century social media boom- an era with pressure to monetize your lifestyle, stay relevant, and exist in a dimension that subjects you to a state of comparison can be an overwhelming thief of joy, and rest, true rest. 

Rest is a Divine calling that connects us in mind, body, spirit, and soul. Rest is our birthright and a testimony to a mode of existence that drives many people into stress, exhaustion, and burnout. It’s not normal!

Rest is a Divine calling that connects us in mind, body, spirit, and soul. Rest is our birthright and a testimony to a mode of existence that drives many people into stress, exhaustion, and burnout. It’s not normal! Many leading causes of chronic illness and mental diseases are lack of quality sleep and unchecked stress in the body. However, rest is beyond clocking eight-plus hours of sleep regularly, though that’s obviously ideal! Quality rest is determined by how we choose to live our lives, which is in direct relationship to how we value rest. Many people don’t know how to live a restful life, incorporating rest throughout their day to achieve harmony on all levels. 

Many take action to accomplish a particular outcome, a means to an end. For example, and generally speaking, Western society has a very narrow-minded view of success that is often associated with financial abundance, fame and recognition, the number of followers you have, the car you drive and the clothes you wear, etc. Our capitalistic and consumerist society has long valued working as the means to achieve an end goal of a shallow notion of success. We don’t prioritize the latter, which is rest. Our humanity desperately needs a reframe around resting so we finally perceive it as worthy of our time and investment. 

“See slowing down as something that is not frivolous, luxury, or privilege, but really your divine human right.” – Tricia Hersey, Founder of The Nap Ministry

A restful life is an easeful life, accomplished by bringing more awareness in your day-to-day as much as humanly possible because doing so significantly slows you down. This act is much easier said than done. It can be uncomfortable to self-inquire and painfully disturbing to put the action necessary to break toxic patterns. As the saying goes, old habits die hard. However in the words of Tricia Hersey, also known as the Nap Bishop and founder of the Nap Ministry, “See slowing down as something that is not frivolous, luxury, or privilege, but really your divine human right.” 

 I still find myself wondering, Is rest a privilege? How do you build in rest when other things pertinent to your survival take precedence? These questions are crucial to pose to help highlight the hustle/grind culture many of us have grown accustomed to. Indeed, the playing field is not equal, and some people’s circumstances present very real challenges that take away time to purely rest, but that does not negate the fact that each and every one of us is beyond worthy of experiencing it in our lives. However, where does the solution lie, and what does it look like? 

Much like any art form, an artist’s creation is uniquely their expression, calling, and journey. It’s a beautiful unraveling of their holy duty. You can not tell an artist the best way for them to make their art, nor the path they should take to actualize it, and the same goes for how you decide to ritualize your rest. Nonetheless, we must view it as a sacred and rebellious act that fights every facet of living these days that tells us we’re not doing enough, buying enough, or making enough. Even if rest comes at the expense of our precious time, it’s a risk worth taking because it will lead you on a path of returning to wholeness. Everything in nature takes a break, nothing blooms all year long, and according to Christian theology, on the seventh day of creation, God rested! Rest is for the holy, and disobeying that is for the wicked. 

Why wouldn’t you feel you deserve a break, and where is the sin of slowing down truly coming from?

Developing a resting ritual requires plenty of patience and grace, but it is up to you to allow yourself permission. We don’t unlearn hardwired patterns overnight, and we certainly don’t settle into a practice of rest with the heaviness of shame on our backs. Every day we have to let ourselves off the hook and create some leeway to feel our needs. As I think of what “letting myself off the hook” looks like, I imagine all the haunting shoulds of my day, and I begin to surrender them to the abyss of acceptance because the sun will rise again, and as will you if you’re body is rested. When we begin to reframe our relationship to rest, we can start to safely explore our feelings that push back against this divine act. Why wouldn’t you feel you deserve a break, and where is the sin of slowing down truly coming from? It’s important to honor the boundaries that protect you from going overboard and loading your plate– our capacity is nothing to play with! 

Habits are created with consistency, and small changes are incredibly impactful over time. This can look like choosing silence over screens and decompressing versus doom scrolling. We glorify the “girl boss” the over-worker, and the early riser, but all of those concepts are mere make-believe. Ask yourself if you’re tired of existing within them- Don’t you know that you are allowed to write your own story? We can give the glory to lazying around and literally doing nothing, to how much leisure (which is active rest) time you enjoyed in the week, to lounging around feet up the wall, to staying in child’s pose or your savansa a little longer than usual, heck to even holding on a bit tighter when you bring that loved one in for an embrace. When we’re rushing around because it’s what we know and how the system functions, then we are going nowhere fast.

I invite you to pencil in rejuvenation, schedule the nap and make a date out of it, show up for the meditation because it’s a rebellious act of self-love, shamelessly press the DND button, and create stricter boundaries because you deserve it! Remember, productivity is a cultural addiction. Once we accept that, only then can we begin to lovingly navigate in a new direction that brings us closer to the divine gift of rest. 

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