The Founder of the Nap Ministry on the Ways Rest Can Be a Form of Resistance
Grind culture is exhausting, and separates us from who we really are.
Over the years we’ve written extensively about the importance of sleep, rest, and yes, even napping. We’ve discussed how to take a nap that won’t mess with your sleep and even explored the very good reasons why you might want to try faking a nap around the holidays. So suffice it to say, we believe in the power of a good nap.
Tricia Hersey, artist, activist, theologian, and founder of The Nap Ministry agrees. As the author of the December SELF Well-Read Book Club pick, Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto, Hersey believes that napping can “provide a portal to imagine, invent, and heal.” Being well-rested, Hersey goes on to explain in the excerpt below, is the very key that will allow the oppressed to overturn the system working against them. “We don’t have to earn rest,” she writes.
It’s a powerful statement—especially during this busy time when to-do lists can seem endless and the need to “wrap things up” before the end of the year can feel exhausting. But we encourage you to read Hersey’s words and take them to heart. It’s no coincidence that we chose Rest Is Resistance for our December pick: We were already planning Rest Week, an editorial series full of articles to help you make a habit of taking breaks, chilling out, and slowing down in the lull between Christmas and New Year’s. Hersey’s manifesto is the perfect supplementary reading.
Tenet 3: Naps provide a portal to imagine, invent, and heal.
The idea of rest as resistance and rest as reparations can be challenging to distill in a few lines when I am asked to do a quick take. It’s counterintuitive to believe rest to be not a place to waste time but instead a generative place of freedom and resistance. We have never learned this in our culture. The thought of not doing, even for a short time, is seen as lazy and unproductive. So an explanation for rest as a form of justice is layered and nuanced. I have learned that one of the most concise and true ways to share the message of rest is to say: “Rest makes us more human. It brings us back to our human-ness.” To be more human. To be connected to who and what we truly are is at the heart of our rest movement.
Since the beginning of developing The Nap Ministry, I have repeated, “This is about more than naps,” over and over again. I’ve done this because I realize that it is so easy for us as a culture to attempt to engage with this work from a quick surface level. Social media makes it so seductive to quickly scroll and feel a high from the media presented. It allows for an engagement that lacks depth, slow study, and embodiment. The memes on our page, or what I like to call “propaganda messages,” are one of the many tools I use to lay a foundation for us to deprogram from grind culture. But there is always an incomplete understanding when you are engaging on social media because it has been created to be an extension of capitalism. The designers of the platforms wants us there all day scrolling, spending money, and absorbing messages in a fast-paced, disconnected manner.
To truly grasp the heart of the messages, we will have to put down our phones and laptops and rest. We will have to take an intense look at the ways in which grind culture has traumatized us and then begin the lifelong process of healing from this trauma. This work is about more than simply naps and sleep, it is a full unraveling from the grips of our toxic understanding of our self-worth as divine human beings. Grieving in this culture is not done and is seen as a waste of time because grieving is a powerful place of reverence and liberation. A grieving person is a healed person. Can you guess why our culture does not want a healed person in it?
You are worthy of rest. We don’t have to earn rest. Rest is not a luxury, a privilege, or a bonus we must wait for once we are burned out. I hear so many repeat the myth of rest being a privilege and I understand this concept and still deeply disagree with it. Rest is not a privilege because our bodies are still our own, no matter what the current systems teach us. The more we think of rest as a luxury, the more we buy into the systematic lies of grind culture. Our bodies and Spirits do not belong to capitalism, no matter how it is theorized and presented. Our divinity secures this, and it is our right to claim this boldly. I’m not grinding ever. I trust the Creator and my Ancestors to always make space for my gifts and talents without needing to work myself into exhaustion.
When we can begin to tap into the deep vessel of who we truly are, so many things would end about oppression. I believe the powers that be don’t want us rested because they know that if we rest enough, we are going to figure out what is really happening and overturn the entire system. Exhaustion keeps us numb, keeps us zombie-like, and keeps us on their clock. Overworking and the trauma of burnout continues to degrade our divinity. Once we know and remember we are divine, we will not participate and allow anything into our hearts and minds that is not loving and caring. We would treat ourselves and each other like the tender and powerful beings we are. When I say sleep helps you wake up — it helps you wake up to the truth of who and what you are. And the system doesn’t want that. It would crumple under the weight of this power.
Things I know for sure that continue to keep me focused on resting: It’s my body, my cells, my skin, my heart, my breath; therefore, I will lovingly center it as the site of my deepest freedom and care. I don’t belong to the systems. They cannot have me. I will never donate my body to a system that views it as only a tool for its production. I need you to begin to slowly feel this and to declare that the systems can’t have you. It will take deep work but it’s imaginative and beautiful work that will be a lifelong process. I am grateful we have a lifetime and our healing needs to not be rushed and urgent. We have a lifetime. We can go slow. We can go deep. We can go into the cracks.