Ango Week 6: Rest as Resistance

October 26, 2022

A weekly message from teachers Sarah Dōjin Emerson and Charlie Korin Pokorny in support of the 2022 Fall Practice Period.

I judge my success by how many naps I am taking a week and how many healthy boundaries I create and uphold. This is my wealth.

You will have to think differently. A mind change is necessary for the resistance.

-Tricia Hersey, the Nap Ministry (Instagram post 8/8/22)

This week we want to turn our full attention to the repose part of repose and bliss, and take up practicing with rest. As Charlie mentioned in his talk on Saturday, the work of Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry was an essential ingredient in the inspiration for this practice period. One of the things she teaches is to understand rest beyond just naps or sleeping, but the nourishment of daydreaming and imagination, or having time in our day, of taking care of our bodies. She is challenging people to expand our conceptions of what’s restful and restorative, and then asking people to include these practices as valuable in our lives, as essentially transgressive forms of resistance to capitalism and white supremacy culture, as acts of liberation.

Practice possibilities:

– Read this brief article: “To Transform Work, We Must Rest” by Tricia Hersey from Yes magazine

– Drawing on the past few weeks of attuning to the body, inquire into what’s restful and restorative for you, your being, your body and nervous system. Be expansive in this inquiry: maybe this means more sleep, but maybe this also means savoring a sound or a view or a color, or a cup of tea; maybe it’s a gentle activity: drawing, bathing, walking, gardening…roller skating?! Maybe it’s having a small chunk of time each week that isn’t scheduled, so you get to move at a different pace (the joy of puttering!). Or activities that ask us to be in a different time than dominant culture time: connecting with ancestors, making offerings at a home altar, prayer, creativity. See what comes if you open heartedly inquire: what is restful for me in my life right now?

– Maybe actually take a nap?! Or just lie down or recline and close your eyes and let the mind drift…

– Read or listen to Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey

Inquiring into conditioning:

What were you taught early in life about the concept of “rest?” What messages impacted you around rest? Who exemplified rest and taught it to you? How much of your early conditioning around rest aligns with how you see it in your present life? How much doesn’t?

Also, can you inquire into, historically in your life and also now in the present, who gets to rest and who doesn’t? And can you attend to and care for some of the forces behind the discrepancies? Can you care for where you fall on this spectrum? Can you see places where sangha might support you in this care?

A couple weeks ago, we had the gift of attending an event with Tricia Hersey in person in Brooklyn celebrating the publishing of her new book. One thing that she emphasized several times that stayed with us was that, even once she was certain about reclaiming rest as an act of liberation, it took years for her to fully engage this practice because of how powerful the “brainwashing” of dominant culture was. This is such an important teaching: that in our efforts to investigate and uproot harmful conditioning, we don’t cause ourselves and others more harm in thinking this should be a quick process, or even that it will be a painless one. One of the things that’s needed in learning to rest is saying no to a lot of things that are wanted and engaging. Conditioning around pushing ourselves happened over years, in many ways over centuries, the forces of it won’t change over night. And we can participate in the collective undoing with our hearts and efforts strongly rooted in compassion… and also some perseverance and commitment to caring for suffering too.

Your body is a site of liberation.

It doesn’t belong to capitalism.

Love your body.

Rest your body.

Move your body.

Hold your body.

– Tricia Hersey, Rest is Resistance