Where Is Our Rest?

not on Netlix

REST. We know how important it is for the nervous system. We know that rest supports immune function. We’ve all read the studies about mindfulness practices treating anxiety and depression. Rest, or else. We, Ellianna and Maura Sternberg, get it for sure, on lock. 

In our community of healers, we’ve galvanized a battle cry: Rest for the Revolution!

As health justice advocates, activists, and organizers, we have been informed and inspired by Black feminist scholarship, from Tricia Hersey at The Nap Ministry, to Adrienne Maree Brown and Autumn Brown, to bell hooks. From them, and our elders, we’ve learned that in the heat of justice work, centering rest is radical liberation.  

As healing practitioners, we are honored to hear and hold stories of trauma, of survival, of getting up to go to work against every bodily desire for more sleep. We see beautiful and heartbreaking echoes of our own stories of survival, rippling through our healer community and the folks we support. Fighting for the people’s wellness under extract-and-produce-at-all-costs late stage capitalism is bone numbingly exhausting.  

Rest practice is our way out of survival and into liberation, even in small micro moments, where our bodies take a deep sigh. Our number one recommendation with clients, our first go-to medicine, is rest.

And yet, when we would schedule the hell out of rest, making pretty little boxes in our planners, we arrived at our “one free hour” and promptly assume dopey, dumbfounded expressions. One hour free and nothing to do? Our nervous systems shorted out at delicious and terrifying emptiness.

Eventually, we got real enough to ask this crucial question: WHAT IS REST? Once upon a time, we thought our numb-out habits were rest. Turns out…

Just-finished-work Netflix? Not rest.

Frantic cleaning? Not rest. 

Riveting documentaries while we fold laundry? Not rest.

Scrolling through Instagram on the toilet? Not rest. 

Podcasting while we chop veggies for dinner? Not rest.

In all of these moments, we are unable to hear our bodies. The scream of a dirty counter is too loud for Ellianna to notice anything else. The wide-eyed tension of another mind blowing nutrition analysis on the Weston A Price podcast is far too consuming for Maura to feel her body. 

We know now that at its core, rest is about listening.

Don’t get it twisted, you can still find us ritually cleaning and obsessively podcasting. We still indulge in our numb-out habits. But now, we don’t call numbing out rest. Instead, we use the following two rest practices to radically reclaim our bodies:

Rhythmic Rest: Short sacred stops throughout the day. Structured time to move energy through body. Taps into five senses. 

8:35am – 30 sec dance party to Dreams, by Fleetwood Mac, on full blast

12:45pm – 20 min prairie walk, with music soft enough to hear the birds sing

1:50pm – 3 sec smelling the sweet, fresh scent of carrots being chopped

9:15 pm – 5 min qi gong practice, a deep breath and a few tears shed

Sacred Hibernation: Half day or day long sacred stops, prescheduled and constructed around nervous system nourishment. Sets container for emotional processing, without explaining or justifying. Maximizes creative/sensual juice.  

8:30am – Wake up, gaze at sunlight through window for 15 minutes

10:15am – Hour long walk in the woods, whisper troubles to an oak tree

11:30am – 45 min at-home yoga practice, break a sweat

12:15pm – Cook each piece of lunch from scratch, three yogic breaths after each bite

1:30pm – Self-massage and heating pad, whisper gratitudes to sore joints 

2:00pm – Lay on the floor, light a candle, write the poetry that comes through

There are a million resistances to these practices—making money, productivity, focus, drive, ambition, go, go, go. When resistance arrives, we invite you to consider these questions:

– What does it say to our bodies if we only sacred stop at the brink of collapse?  
– What does it mean to our Earth if we ignore and gaslight our own bodily stewardship? 
– How can we expect our bodies to deliver, when we consistently put them on mute? 

When our bodies are stuck in survival mode, we have trouble making deep art, deep healing, deep magic, or deep love. Depth requires knowing. And knowing, demands, deep listening. 

We demand rest. For ourselves, and for you. For our young ones, and our elders. We know of the ecstatic liberation awaiting us and you, in and underneath our sore backs and weary feet. 

Ellianna & Maura Sternberg

Maura & Ellianna Sternberg

The Sternberg sisters us herbs, spirit, vitalist nourishment and radical self-sovereignty to cultivate healing and wellness. They currently rest their heads in Chicago.

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