“Rest is as necessary as breath”Octavia Raheem
By Bethel Tsegaye & Bianca Edwards
Last week at Community Change’s annual Cross Movement Convening, amidst the hustle of workshops, meetings and actions – there was one room where partners and staff could come to quiet the noise, to be present in their bodies, to take a moment to REST. For many, it was a hard choice to come to this space, to put themselves first over competing schedules and demands of showing up during a time where we should all be slowing down. The experience offered an invitation for us to “cease work or movement in order to take deep breaths, relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.”
Jhumpa Bhattacharya was someone who made that hard choice and said “YES” to REST. “I’m thrilled that there was a dedicated workshop space for REST – including guided meditation and free Reiki sessions. It was everything I needed without knowing I needed it. What a beautiful and necessary way to address the impacts of the grind culture perpetuated by white supremacist, patriarchal structures and norms within organizing and advocacy. I’m thankful to Community Change for being an organization that lives its values by elevating REST as a direct action imperative in the movement towards social justice. The session was healing, restorative and a prime example of how centering the needs of Black women helps us all.”
As you entered the REST experience room you were greeted by smells of sanctuary and peace and two beautiful souls, Imani Samuels and Keisha Igbazua. Their offerings were full and vast, starting with the invitation to leave what you were carrying at the door, grab a mat, lay down and be comfortable and get grounded. Once settled, we were offered mini reiki experiences throughout the sessions. Led by Keisha, she would graciously make her way around the room, being intentional with each person who lay a dried stem on their sacral chakra, symbolizing the womb or space for creation. She worked her way through each person, moving energy so that it could flow freely, noticing where we were stuck, where we were holding grief, pain, loss, fatigue, anxiety and all that we have piled up throughout the year. All while we were being guided by Imani’s soothing voice, reminding us to breathe, to breathe deep, to breath slowly, to SURRENDER.
“The space was layered with textures, scents, sounds, gratitudes and stillness. It awakened my senses and I felt more grounded and connected to my purpose. It struck me how each of us individually made a restorative choice to collectively REST together. Side by side. Thank you for creating a space with loving and caring energy. I’m smiling at the wondrous possibilities of a small group of women having the courage to be different, practicing into it, and becoming an even greater collective of what the world needs right now,” said Elsa Barboza.
Many of us found ourselves wondering if we could give to ourselves what the movement is asking of us? We are so committed to the movement, and we must remember that the movement is us; it’s you and I, its Black, queer, indigenous women, men, its all of US. That same fight and rigor that we bring to our work, we must be able to give to ourselves and each other – but with love and tenderness.
“We believe that societal change begins with intentional REST. It was a gift to offer a flavor of the HURU experience to the beautiful souls in the movement space. To share why and how we seek to hold space for them, even in the midst of work. and we are so grateful that they chose themselves. They chose to breathe, to REST. We witnessed emotional outpouring during our time together. That release is evident of the powerful transformation REST offers, even just for 60 minutes. Our wish is that the behavior change framework enables each individual to adopt these newly learned wellness modalities into their lives and daily regiment. The sustained impact is essential,” says Imani Samuels.
Through F.U.L.L., we offer a rolling invitation to organize with ease and REST is one way of helping us to do that. To help us unlearn harmful practices and behaviors that the movement has taught us that we must choose pain for the cause. Because nothing is worth our lives and our bodies and because without them there is no movement. F.U.L.L. believes that through REST, we can be clear about what matters and organize from a place of stillness. Join our community today and never miss an opportunity to REST.