Let's TELL A NEW EXHAUSTION STORY

New Story.jpg

Let's face it, women today are tired.

Done. Cooked. Fried.

I support busy women leaders, and here is what they tell me all the time:

"I spent years getting educated and now I don't have any energy to work."

"I love my work, but my kids keep getting sick and so I show up to my job and can't even remember what I'm doing."

"I'm an early-morning waker and this lack of sleep is ruining my life."

This story of exhaustion is real and we could say it's simply an effect of modern life and leave it at that. But I sense there's more meat to this story. I believe women can re-write the story of their exhaustion and it starts with getting deep, conscious rest because it's from peaceful terrain - the truth of who you are - where new stories grow.

Shedding Your Tired Stories About Sleep & Rest

Do I want women to lie about being tired? Yes.

Actually, I see it more like the need to shed.

If we're going to stop the cycle of fatigue, we've got to shed ourselves of what keep us so tired. And that starts with our mind.

No matter how many gadgets you use to measure the number of hours you're sleeping or how well you think you know the source of your exhaustion, identifying with an "I'm exhausted" mantra is ultimately draining. 

Counting the number of hours you're sleeping at night -- telling yourself the story that you're just not a good sleeper or just not the kind of person who can get in eight hours of sleep every night -- also doesn't help you sleep. It may be your present-moment reality, but believing you're not a good sleeper often comes true.

I'm not shaming science -- the research that tells us we should be getting a certain number of hours of sleep is often based on solid facts -- but instead I'm urging you to be cautious how you use it. Sleep deprivation is only an ingredient - it's not your full story. 

When You See Beyond Exhaustion, You See Gold

It's no wonder women are so exhausted. When we tell only one side of the story throws us out of balance. It reinforces separation.

Most of us rest to fuel productivity.  But at its core, rest is a supreme act of having no agenda. Rest helps you find your gold.

What if instead of being goal oriented -- looking for those perfect precious hours of sleep -- we searched for our gold? This is the story we must start living. With technology extending our days and gadgets to tell us that we're not measuring up all here to stay, women need to take back the narrative on exhaustion and focus on our gold.

Valerie Estelle Frankel, author of the book From Girl to Goddess, has said, "While the hero journeys for external fame, fortune. and power, the heroine tries to regain her lost creative spirit."

What if our story of exhaustion is tied to women forgetting this? What the road to writing our new story of exhaustion is to become the heroine of our story and regain our creative spirit?

I remember a time when I was a young community organizer and all my mentors were exhausted bright women stuck in what I termed "the story of yuck." They were doing brilliant work, yet their stories were all the same: high output, but exhausted in mind, body, and spirit. Most were divorced, or not in healthy relationships. Rest was a joke. Good sleep was an accepted part of the narrative. Deep down many of them were personally miserable.

Historically, and even today, the main way a woman takes back her sleep - and ultimately her power - has been through breakdown. Why? Because this is when we finally give up the old story of exhaustion, that we can't sleep, and we collapse on our beds to get some rest. This is why for many women, a breakdown is a door back to their lost creative spirits. And a door back to lifting layers of exhaustion.

The problem today is that we medicate women before they breakdown. While medication is necessary for some people, there is no way the 344% increase in women taking ADHA medication in the United States over a decade recently is serving women to tell a new story of exhaustion. For many of us, it's keeping us in the old exhaustion story.

I know fatigue is a vicious cycle. We can't find our lost creative spirits unless we get rest. And we can't rest unless we aren't so stressed.

The good news is that there is a solution.

A New, Conscious Container for Your Life & Work

How do we tell a different story? It starts with cultivating awareness and the best place to harness this skill is through conscious rest. That's the kind of rest where you effortlessly check "in" instead of "out." In the Daring to Rest world, it starts with yoga nidra "rest" meditation - a sleep-based meditation technique that feels like the best nap of your life and a really good therapy session rolled into one.

Your body relaxes into supreme peace. Your mind is still and free from the mental loop of negative thoughts and emotions. You often start sleeping again because yoga nidra re-teaches the body to sleep by guiding you into deep sleep brainwaves. You experience your inner world, something you didn't even know you craved, but when you're there you experience a deep sense of consciousness. Consciousness is always working to know itself, and when it does you have found your creative spirit, your home.

Women who don't sleep well are always on the scent of home - they just can't find it. The moment you sense home, you trust closing your eyes and sleeping again, of going into darkness. You live in the body. People who feel overwhelm live in the head.

Insomnia is a messenger. Once the message is received, the insomnia goes away. People with insomnia need to regularly tap into the parasympathetic branch of their nervous system several times every day.

The more we rest, the more we hear the messages we need to hear, and that's when our new story begins to emerge. Rest feeds our inner world, and often with exhaustion it's our inner world that needs to be fed. This is where our creative spirit lives.

Conscious rest provides gaps of nothingness and in the gap -- a deep pause -- this is when you can dis-identify with all those stories of exhaustion. You're not denying that you feel exhausted, but rather you're learning to stay unattached to the story. It's the story we love to feed on like chocolate cake and causes us to feel stuck in our exhaustion story. The moment you shine awareness on the cake, it stops being so attractive. It's power of you softens.

Every time you lay down to practice yoga nidra meditation, you're softening that old exhaustion story and opening up space for a new story.

Yogis often talk about enlightenment as being when you are resting in the space of awareness. This is where you are taken to in yoga nidra - the space of awareness. It's here you realize that you are the container. You thought your story - "I can't sleep" - was the container, but this is not the whole story. It's part of the stuff in the container. We tend to notice the stuff, right? We often say things like "I'm so tired all the time" because this is part of our stuff in the container. But this is not the container. The container is your creative spirit -- the gold -- and not everything moving through it. The story of your stuff is time-bound. You are not. You are timeless. Yoga nidra meditation helps you know yourself as the space of awareness, and when you do, you become free from the stuff in your container. It's just stuff moving through the container.

There's no person on the planet that feels perfectly well-rested. A mom with her newborn will feel exhausted. A woman on a deadline for a project will feel tired. But when we see this as part of our container, not all of it, this opens up space for change. Giving yourself permission to rest with yoga nidra opens you up to live this new story.

New awareness, new story.

Well-rested women live a new narrative on exhaustion. 

Podcast: Dream Deprivation with Dr. Rubin Naiman

In today's episode, meet Dr. Rubin Naiman, a sleep and dream specialist who says people are at least as dream deprived as they are sleep deprived. Learn what dreaming well is and how not dreaming can impact your health. Also, find out who the three women Dr. Naiman would love to have tea with and why. 

Dr. Naiman's book Healing Night is my absolute favorite book - it's a must read for anyone who wants to really understand rest and why we don't sleep from a psycho-spiritual perspective. I've interviewed him before and I'm always learning something new.  I think you will too. He's definitely my rest-crush :) I can't wait for you to meet him. And, if you'd like to meet him in person, consider attending his Healing Insomnia workshop next month in California.

Dream deprivation.jpg

My "Rest" Shero.

Charlotte.jpg

Happy International Women’s Day! What a JOY to wake up this morning and read a New York Times piece on a few of the accomplished women in history that they never wrote an obituary on. In fact, even today more obituaries are written about white men than women. Kind of unbelievable that only now someone thought: oh, maybe we should profile a few more women who have made a difference.

Today I want to give a shout out to my “rest” shero, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (swipe left on the photo to see her), another woman who made a difference but had no prestigious obituary. Charlotte wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a fictional piece, but really this story of a woman prescribed the rest cure by her doctor, resting in a room for days on end, hallucinating in the room, and generally going mad, was a social commentary at the time on how rest was used to shut women up. Make us good girls. In the house and in bed.

YES, there were a lot of Women having mental breakdowns and even becoming invalids in the 1800s (sound familiar to today? Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, high rates of anxiety). ..but back then Charlotte knew that resting in a bed for days on end was not the answer. Why? Well, Charlotte may not have said it this way, but while our souls may need the “being,” they also need the “becoming.”

Nobody is one side of a coin. Charlotte knew this and fought for this, got the hell out of bed because of this, and even eventually gave up her daughter for this. Today I honor her. For standing up to rest and saying YES to all of her.

Today I declare that Charlotte ‘s bargain with rest, to get OUT of bed, was a good bargain back then. But the pendulum has now swung too far. Women today are on becoming/striving overload. Today not resting is a bad bargain. Today we must dare TO rest. So that we too, like Charlotte, can embrace our WHOLE selves. The being and the becoming.

This is SO yoga nidra. You think it's just the "being" - the rest - but actually it's also the "becoming" - the rising up. That's why it's daring to rest.

Rest (and Rising) Takes Balls.

Courage to rest and rise.jpg

Giving yourself permission to rest is not easy.

And who has the energy to rise - to do anything - when we're so exhausted?

"It's like life has women by the balls," a friend half-joked.

A whiff of patriarchy here, a ridiculously long to-do list there.

And lots of women raising kids today have more help than our moms did. And more women have the job of their dreams.

Then how come so many women are all at our breaking points? Guilty over resting, and no time for it; no energy to rise.

Our bodies, broken.

There's this beautiful quote by Marion Woodman where she says,

I'm brave,

Brave also means

being nervous.

I think this sums up how many of us felt throughout the most recent 40 day Daring to Rest program. Over six hundred women around the world reach really deep, said ENOUGH, and finally gave themselves permission to rest.

We felt brave, and nervous.

Many women are surprised, and perhaps initially a bit disappointed, that the book Daring to Rest isn't just about sinking down onto one's bed and sleeping for 40 days. Yes, we do that...but we also rise because our souls call for both.

Burnout is when we stop listening to our soul for so long that we forget the call to rise because we don't want to rise that way, that led to the burnout, ever again.

When you have any setback, the idea of literally rising each day feels like an impossible mountain to climb.

Well, Rest Friends, it's not.

If you're struggling with anything - a medical condition, or just life falling apart - please read Katina Anne's story. She just completed the Daring to Rest 40-day program, and gave me permission to share something she recently wrote at the end of her 40 days.

"When I saw the title of Daring To Rest, quite by chance, it intrigued me as someone who has been forced to ‘rest’ daily ( well stuck in bed most of each day) for the past 18 years due to Fibromyalgia, M.E/CFS, burnout, adrenal fatigue or whatever this condition wants to be known by.
I have never felt replenished after bedrest or sleep, a common factor with these neurological conditions, thus resulting in relentless exhaustion.
I had never heard of Yoga Nidra, yoga being something I would love to try but physical restraints have prevented this.
I admit I was rather skeptical at first, how could this be any different from all the other ‘meditations’ I had tried over the years?
Having also coped with PTSD, I was cautious as many mindfulness/ meditation practices have had a contra-indicative effect on me, triggering my nervous system into freeze mode once more.
I was highly creative before becoming unwell but that appeared to have died along with my career, independence and self esteem due to this debilitating, cruel condition.
However, I now look forward to my true daily ‘rest’ as I do my daily treat of a cafetière coffee each morning!
My creativity is slowly waking up, I can feel my music and poetry igniting within me again. That is the greatest gift of all as this is who I am. A crucial part of me that had gradually faded and then was lost. For that I shall be forever grateful.

I now look forward to my true daily ‘rest’ and shall be continuing and delving deeper, as I regard this as nourishment for my soul in order to help me heal.
This, for me has been truly life-changing.
I know I have a long journey or recovery ahead of me still but yoga nidra is better than any meds or supplements!"

This is the power of deep rest.

This is the courage to rise.

This is the medicine we must feed as many women as possible.

IT'S URGENT.

Of course, so we get deep sleep again.

But also...so we remember who we are.

So we can feel the music and poetry igniting within us again.

Your light is never out.

You have an internal power switch,

and THIS is what Daring to Rest will help you turn back on.

Please, feed yourself this medicine. Commit to rest. (and chuck perfect when you miss the mark).

The courage to truly rise in our lives today, and in this world, is no longer just striving...the becoming.  It's also got to include "rest and digest"...the being.

Burnout is when we throw it all into "either/or" pots. Something you and I may know all too well.

Thriving is this rich soup of "and/both." Rules are dropped, lines blurred...we're FREE to say what we mean...to feel our bodies and accept them...and stop putting ourselves down for not fitting into one pot.

This is often when we start being good to ourselves. Finally.

Women today are struggling for more sleep, this is real, but we are also, in our bones, struggling for autonomy and freedom.

Both is the promise of Daring to Rest.

Rest and rising takes balls.

With love & yoga nidra somersaults,

xo

Karen

* * *

If you feel like also feeding others this medicine, the last chance to join the Daring to Rest Academy is this Sunday, February 25th.  The women joining the academy are from all over the world - Canada, Australia, Holland, US, UK. They are brave and nervous. They want to plant the seeds of daring to rest, and they want to make sure they're daring to rest too.  It's okay to hold both.

What if Rest Was More Effective Than a Pain Pill?

Rest(4).jpg

The Rest Revolution is coming, Friends...AND there is work to do.
.
SUNDAY, NEW YORK TIMES: I opened the paper today and this piece stood out: "I Wanted Vicodin, Not Tea."

Made me curious so I read it and Holy-Rest-Backflip...the beautiful words she heard from her doctors about REST and how FEELING pain is not a bad thing...how it actually helps us remember to rest 😴

Here's what her German anesthesiologist said about the reason why he doesn't think she should take strong pain killers after surgery:

"Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest. And please be careful with ibuprofen. It’s not good for your kidneys. Only take it if you must. Your body will heal itself with rest.”

YOUR BODY WILL HEAL ITSELF WITH REST.

A huge Daring to Rest-Yoga Nidra PomPom Shakes to this☄️☄️

With a little common sense, and teaching people how to Rest (because, as this woman pointed out, she had no idea HOW to Rest), we can turn the tide from non-stop doing mode...to a combination of ENERGY IN - ENERGY OUT.

Rest helps us digest, restore, and recharge.

If we numb ourselves to the signals to rest -- we fall apart.

The lesson in this piece is not to never take medication, but to not be afraid of crawling into bed and slowing down to heal.

REST is the bravery we need in our world today.

REST - and especially yoga nidra kind of rest - is medicine.✨

And...TEACHING REST is why the Daring to Rest Academy opens very soon.

Let's usher in a new restful way of being in the world.

Your thoughts?

xo
Karen

Soul Whisper: hi

Power of giving rest.jpg

Yesterday I received this message from Melanie who just began the 40 Day Daring to Rest program. She wrote:

"Oh my gosh, yesterday I started day one - day one! Of your yoga nidra program.  I did the first fifteen minutes, hmm, around seven or so.  Not even close to bed.   I didn't hear any soul whisper for a long time, but I was compelled to stay, and then, I just heard this quiet, oh so quiet, "hi".  It was so beautiful and touching.  And then I had the sleep of my life.  I dreamt beautiful deep intense, curious dreams, and yet, it was peaceful - like I was on an adventure and deeply safe and cozy all at the same time.  It was incredible.  Day one! I felt such a strong desire to share my gratitude straight away."

Oh, how I love when women hear their soul whispers. This is perhaps my most favorite moment when practicing yoga nidra, how easily we begin to tap into that wild voice of the soul. Untethered. Loving. The honest girlfriend. The nurturing mother we perhaps never had. The soul whisper is all of this. When we lie down with yoga nidra, she speaks to us. Sometimes it's a "hi" and other times it's all the "junk from the trunk" that we've been neglecting.

Melanie continued:

 "What a surprising revolution.  I think the work you are doing is wild and important, and such a surprise.  It is so wild, that I can't help but wonder, and this might sound crazy, but do you ever witness people having a sort of, angry or defensive reaction?  I mean, it is so  beautiful.  I think you have unlocked a very precious resource, and well, I know what the powers that be often do to natural resources, so I am just curious if you've ever had funny responses.  Perhaps I am not making sense.  I love it!  I believed when I listened to your interview in Insights at the Edge, that I would feel relaxed, but I got your book when I heard you say that it brought out the wild.  And I must say I am so surprised by the immediacy of it.  Like it was just on the surface, and yet so well hidden.  Like a wild animal."

Yes, this work brings out the wild. More specifically, your Wild Woman, an archetype beautiful representing that intuitive "knower" in you, brought out in the work of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves. I was so touched the other day when a woman tagged me on instagram to say that Daring to Rest is "adding a practical level" to Dr. Estes' work on the Wild Woman. I hope so. It's time we put the Wild Woman into practice.

Yoga nidra revives your wild woman effortlessly. You lie down. The wild woman arrives. I noticed this very soon after I began to practice yoga nidra, and I see it all the time in the woman who practice with me.  I have no magic wand to determine when she will arrive, but I do know that if you lie down for 40 days she will make an appearance. You don't need to will her to come. She will arrive.

The wild woman is key to embodying your womanhood. And this, my rest friends, will set you free.

Melanie makes a really interesting point about whether people get defensive or angry when they practice yoga nidra because this super nap is soul work, it's the lying down to wake up kind of rest. The answer is yes, and perhaps no, it depends. When we are truly at the point of complete breakdown and open for change then anger and defense mechanisms tend to weaken. But yes, because yoga nidra invites you to welcome everything, to feel and awaken all of you, this can mean awakening anger or sadness or fear. It may rattle you, but guess what? You're nestle under a blanket totally relaxed, in the deepest state of relaxation imaginable, so what often happens is you meet it (anger, fear, etc) and then it dissolves. 

Rumi once wrote a beautiful poem, The Guesthouse, to welcome all those dark emotions that may rise because... 

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight. 

I love to keep this in mind whenever practicing yoga nidra meditation brings up a feeling of discomfort. Often it just wants to say hello. 

As someone who experienced panic attacks for nearly two decades before finding yoga nidra and changing that legacy, I understand how feeling a dark emotion or thought feels like a downward spiral. But remember: what kind of high vibration life were you living anyway? Perhaps it's worth the risk to welcome it.

Okay, so I really must share with you Melanie's day two of Daring to Rest. She wrote:

"You will laugh, night two of practice and I wake up at three in the morning with an answer to a creative problem that has been nagging me: I'm an audiobook narrator and I have been wanting to update my home studio. And, there it was, like sent from angels, a design that is elegant, simple, and easy to execute.  Hallelujah! "

I smiled. Yes, the answers do come.

But there is also a temptation to make answers happen. To take a yoga nidra super nap with an agenda. Beware. Melanie then wrote:

"I do wonder about your glorious program and the creative process. You wrote your beautiful play Birth.  I have had this precious little story in my heart that came to me from the Wild, like seven years ago, and I've never been able to manifest it, though I've engaged discipline, and so many different shenanigans.  I am wondering: could one use yoga nidra and night sleep, by lying down with an intention: a plot detail, or a character, for example, sleep and then write morning pages in the morning to create. Is this how you did it?  My fear is that this act, is actually an act of colonization of the Wild, something I have done in the past.  I get an idea, from the natural resource of the soul, and my ego proceeds to colonize, and consequently and rightly so, the soul goes quiet. Is this taking the rest out of rest?"

Melanie makes a great observation...that trying to get her story to come out by planting a plot detail as an intention and then see if the story arrives is what she calls "colonization of the Wild." It's best to let the 40 days of Daring to Rest happen and don't try to make anything happen. What will arrive is whatever you need to hear. If creative pursuits arrive, welcome them, but no need to plant them. Let your soul whispers inform your intention. That's the first 5 days of the journey - we let our soul whispers inform our intention.

Most importantly, when you do practice yoga nidra, enjoy the deep rest.  Yoga nidra is this beautiful "no agenda" space. A blank canvas. Daring to Rest is your opportunity to first bathe in it, and then rise with your wild insights and creative edge.  Be sure to have your journal with you...because soul whispers arrive when our Wild is fed.

How Rest Saved My Soul

How Rest Saved my Soul..jpg

When a mom drives her minivan by an empty park in a raging thunderstorm and sits there for an hour screaming in tears, people might think she’s nuts. I know that’s what I thought of myself.

You’ve completely lost it. You’re out of control. Crazy.

At that moment, I was in the kind of deep crazy that takes you to your knees, praying to whomever will listen, with a mixture of snot and salvia dripping down your face. It’s not pretty and far from perfect. But today, I now know that this is the good kind of crazy. This is when the gate opens.

What gate? You know, that dusty gate that we ignore, so we can continue to walk around with our green smoothies, go to the gym, stay busy, and look as if everything’s fine—we’re fine. But are we really? This is the gate that helps you drop all the veils of perfection and helps you start a new—raw and real—conversation.

I arrived at the gate, as most of us do, makeup-free, hair matted to cheeks, after a big wild cry, in what felt like ear-plugged silence. Silence provides one of the keys to the gate, because, with it, comes clarity. No one arrives at the gate singing. The singing comes later when you realize you made it through the gate. In the silence of the minivan or wherever you happen to be, you’re given the courage to get out of the past, and commit to an intention that aligns more deeply to you.

I am healthy. I am enough. I am a good mother.

These are the mantras I began repeating the moment I went through the gate. And that’s when I heard a whisper reminding me of how much I needed to rest, that rest was healing, and how without it, I feel crazy, and probably am crazy. The bad kind of unconscious crazy.

The bad kind of crazy is what women from the mid-nineteeth century until the late 1910s were feeling when tens of thousands of women became depressed and sick (1). The industrial revolution wasn’t a rosy time for women, many of whom were not welcomed in a man’s world and, especially creative women, were bored and isolated at home (1). This cocktail of holding back one’s desires and boredom was enough to drive huge numbers of women crazy.

The list of creative and activist women going crazy ran deep. At 25, writer and feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman became paralyzed for no apparent reason. Jane Adams, the famous social reformer, fell into a depression at age 21, and also became paralyzed for seven years (1).

The most common complaint women gave was feeling deeply, ridiculously tired and anxious. The cure? Rest—which seemed to make sense, but instead, this Rest Cure, as it was called (which today’s modern woman would see as an answer to her prayers) was driving some women, like Gilman and Adams, to the brink (1). They couldn’t take one more minute of resting, idle in their rooms.

This is the point when we have to make a choice: do we want to remain unconscious to our heart’s desires or meet consciousness at the gate and wake up?

It turns out, while alone in a room resting all day, Charlotte realized that rest was a way for men to tame women and their dreams of something bigger in life. Rest was used to shut women up. Charlotte saw this and wrote about it in The Yellow Wallpaper, a fictitious account of her experience enduring the rest cure.

Clearly, back in the 1880s, women like Charlotte—and Jane, too—stopped resting to save their souls. The moment Charlotte ended her rest confinement, she divorced her husband—and two years later even took the unthinkable step to leave her child—to fiercely protect her deep desire to be who she was. If she hadn’t, she would’ve lived a life feeling that bad kind of crazy (2).

Today, rest is, ironically, the remedy for women to shed the bad crazy—where we don’t feel aligned with our true selves—and start embracing the good crazy—our true power, creativity and intuition. Deep rest gets us to the gate, and helps us walk through to claim the prize—an awakened life.

The moment I got quiet in my minivan, I remembered my experience of having the best “nap” of my life several years earlier when I walked into a yoga studio and discovered 25 women lying down practicing a guided, sleep-based meditation known as yoga nidra, the sleep of the yogi. This is the fully awakened rest that leads you to be the good crazy, like in my case, write a play when everyone thought you couldn’t and then have it raise lots of money to benefit the lives of women. I committed in my minivan right then to practice this kind of rest when I got home. I told myself that I’d practice every day for an entire year and see what kind of effect rest could have on me.

First, I put the “Mommy’s Napping” sign up. Then I told my husband that our two kids, seven and nine at the time, were his for 30 minutes every day, making it clear in my facial features that if they disturbed me I was going to be the Charlotte Perkins Gilman kind of crazy.

I made it 40 days. Forty continuous days of blissful rest with yoga nidra meditation. And here’s what rest taught me:

You must grant yourself permission to rest. Nobody is going to take care of you like you can. I had a gazillion excuses not to rest. Really good ones. It doesn’t matter—rest must be a priority because if you don’t thrive, the people around you won’t either.

Don’t turn to an expert. Turn to yourself. You are the expert. For so long, I was frustrated from not having answers from other people to my problems. Why is my son not reading? Why do I still have post-traumatic stress from a robbery over a year ago? Why do I have acne in my 40s? I thought I didn’t know. I thought that “science” was higher than the value of my experiences and gut feelings. I was wrong. When you get deep rest, you rise up with the energy to dig deeper and believe in yourself. You get the all-important memo that you are the quarterback of your life—not a doctor or your family and friends.

Women are not crazy; they are intuitive. This is a biggie for women. We’re still seeing signs of the female life cycle being branded as weak, crazy, and sensitive. Menstruation is still viewed as a curse and menopause as the end of a woman’s juicy life. Deep rest reminded me that none of this is true. I am always juicy; I am a strong woman; my biology does not define me. I learned to be proud of being crazy. The good and fully conscious kind of crazy. This is what women need today—heavy doses of it to save their souls, reorganize the workplace, and awaken the world.

(1) Ehrenreich, Barbara and Deidre English, For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of Experts Advice to Women (Anchor Books: New York, second edition 2005).

(2) Charlotte Perkins Gilman (edited with an introduction and notes by Denise D. Knight), The Yellow Wall-paper, Herland, and Selected Writings (Penguin Books: New York, 1999).


This piece was originally published in Thrive Global.

This Woman Changemaker Got Rest and then Helped Women Rise

Rest(3).jpg

Yoga nidra-hallelujah!!! Last year filmmaker Megan Park decided to start the new year off lying down with yoga nidra. She was healthy and rested, so why sign up for one week of yoga nidra "napping"? Life purpose.
.
Here's what she wrote me in July, 6 months later:

"I want to tell you about a new project I am launching—and it came to me not long after completing the winter Yoga Nidra series I did with you. It’s called Putting Women In Their Place—a grassroots, nationwide network of film/tv/digital media professionals making campaign videos for progressive, pro-choice women running for local and regional offices (think: school board, county clerk, mayor…). I’m only just getting it off the ground but my website is now live and I give Yoga Nidra and you all the credit here for opening me up to the simple truth of what I’m good at—networking and making videos."
.

Megan's Putting Women In Their Place made a HUGE difference in the U.S. elections this week. 

"This crazy idea has struck a chord. More than 40% of the candidates we made videos for won their elections (some cities are still tallying votes). EVERY candidate we met was inspiring and each will continue to make important contributions to their communities in years to come. This idea only came to life because of the people & teams who volunteered their time and talents. THANK YOU to ALL of them. Our humanity is conveyed through stories. Let's keep sharing them. How about donating $40 to commemorate the 40% who got into office. Keep this important work moving forward. Donate at http://puttingwomenintheirplace.com. I'll send you cool buttons as a thank you." #womenrunwomenwin

Big shaking my #yoganidra pompom shakes! Bravo Megan, for taking time to rest and then rise.
 

LIsten! The Introduction to Daring to Rest

Rest(1).jpg

I’m excited to give you a sneak peek at my book, Daring to Rest

I’ve recorded the introduction below. So get a cup of tea, or a relaxing drink, and listen.

Let's Connect.

In the comments, I'd love to hear your thoughts on rest, if you're getting it and why/why not.

Yoga nidra pompom shakes,

Karen


Daring to Rest will be published November 1st (this week!), and you can order it now here. Be sure to also sign up for the book bonus to join me for a 40 day rest cleanse, using the book as our guide, in the new year.

40 Days of Rest (and you can have it too).

Rest.jpg

I had to decide whether to invite my mother to visit me after the birth of our first child. We lived two plane rides away, so she wasn’t going to pop by unannounced, but the expectation was that soon after I delivered my mother would arrive and most likely stay a week or two.

But a friend with four children had just advised us to take an entire month after the baby to rest. No visitors. No mom.  With my husband away, I left the house to think this through.

I sat inside a diner, in the early evening, eating a large stack of pancakes. Ugh: why is it so difficult to make a month of rest happen? The guilt of not inviting my mother. The instructions my friend gave to only invite a few select local friends over to do my laundry so I can lay in bed with the baby. Why did all of this feel like I was slowly being choked at the throat?

Here’s why: because demanding rest meant I had to make myself a priority, and that felt like a totally unfamiliar, and even naughty, language.

If I were to invite my mother to visit, I would be praised.

If I told her not to come for one month, because, of all things, I was resting, I would be vilified.

When I got home, I had a cup of ginger tea to digest the pancakes, and then called my friend who made the one month of rest suggestion. I asked, “Don’t you think I will confuse and piss people off?”

And she replied, “Yes. Absolutely.”

We had a good laugh, and that’s when my mood shifted to a feeling of liberation. A month of rest was just what I needed – dammit.

I am still “hearing it” from my mom, how I didn’t invite her to see her grandson until one month after he was born. But guess what? I don’t care. I remember those days as the best rest of my life.

This is why I decided to write my book, Daring to Rest, as a 40-day experience. I thought back to my postpartum experience, and read about how in places like Latin America postpartum mothers are expected to rest for 40 days, a cuarentena (“quarantine”). And in China “doing the month” is another tradition of resting and eating well to restore the body after childbirth.

Nothing like “40 days of rest” exists for women in the United States and Europe. Instead, we’re pushed to do more, especially in the United States where paid maternity leave is virtually nonexistent.

Okay, so most women today can’t all stay home for 40 days after having a baby, and some may live near their parents and want to invite them in for a visit. That’s where yoga nidra steps in and my concept of women giving themselves a 40 day rest “cleanse” was born.

A rest cleanse isn’t just for women after giving birth to a baby. Let’s face it, women give birth to way more than babies. Books, businesses. There are a ridiculous number of projects that push us to our limits, exhaust our bodies, and demand rest as a remedy to refresh our system. We’re kidding ourselves if we think otherwise.

After a big launch in my business I always do a 40 day rest cleanse with yoga nidra. I also like to do it seasonally, and at the beginning of the calendar year. Life is full. I don’t have a remedy for that right now. That’s why I rest cleanse regularly. My son is dyslexic and his educational journey took so much energy out of me, 40 day rest cleanses felt life-saving.

Think of it as a juice cleanse. Sometimes, in fact, during my rest cleanse I’ll add a weekend of juice cleansing.

Here’s what I now know: taking 40 days to rest will confuse and piss some people off. But I’m worth it. You too?

First the Rest, Then the Rising

Sisterhood + healthcare(8).jpg

"REST

is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving; an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bull’s eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange."

David Whyte


The moment I finally said a full YES to rest: I was sitting in my mini-van, a mommy mess, at the end of my tether, in a thunder & lightning downpour. There were lots of tears and an intense desire to "Eat, Pray, Love" it out of my life. Then I remembered - oh right, I used to practice yoga nidra REST meditation and I loved it. It felt like an intravenous drip of DEEP REST. So right there in the minivan I decided to commit to this beautiful gift of REST - every day for a year.

Yes, this was crazy. My boys were 8 and 10. But I was enthusiastic, and hung a "Mom's Napping" sign on the door to my bedroom every time I took my yoga nidra nap. For the first week, each time before napping I coached the boys through what to do in order NOT to disturb me from my 20 minutes of yoga nidra. Only in an emergency were they to disturb me. "Is LeBron James coming to the front door an emergency?" my 10-year-old asked. NO. If LeBron James is at the front door he will have to wait outside. REST COMES FIRST.

I lasted 40 DAYS of my 1 year plan to practice yoga nidra. And those 40 DAYS of yoga nidra napping changed my life. I couldn't believe the transformation. I could THINK CLEARLY again. I forgot how angry I was at the school system that was failing my dyslexic son's life. I also had the motivation to take on the school district (and WIN) to get my son into a life-changing school. I forgave the kids who were bullying him. I SMILED a lot. And WHISTLED while I cooked dinner. 40 DAYS in my rest cave did all this. I would not have believed it, but I lived it so knew it was true.

Eventually I said to myself, what if every woman took 40-days to REST DEEPLY? What if, like some cultures do after a woman has a baby, a woman gave herself permission to pause and restore her energy at any time in her life? Women push so many "babies" out. We need 40-day rest periods for ourselves and our sanity.

Believe me, I felt so insane before yoga nidra. Like a crazy loser mom who could not juggle one more fucking ball. I had too many balls. And then, BOOM, I laid down for 40 DAYS and suddenly I didn't feel the balls. Oh yes, all my "to dos" were still there, but the heaviness had lifted. I realized what mattered. I felt ridiculously rested in my body for the first time, perhaps ever.

And so I said: that's it...I gotta tell other women about this. I've got to introduce them to the 40-days. So we can all feel WELL-RESTED. Amen, right?

That's why I wrote the book Daring to Rest. So women now everywhere can now free their well-rested woman. 40 DAYS. That's all it takes. Think of it as a REBOOT. A juice cleanse. Or whatever way you need to frame it. Once a year you give yourself 40 DAYS OF REST. Or twice. Or whatever YOU want.

The point is: it's time to FREE YOUR WELL-RESTED WOMAN.

Women are great leaders, but too often we're leading by chugging sleep meds or not sleeping at all.

40 DAYS of REST can help you change that unsustainable paradigm.

You can pre-order the book now. Please do. My friend just told me that she bought 5 for her girlfriends as holiday presents. YES! She even bought one for her brother-in-law who technically this book isn't written for because it's geared to women, but he hasn't slept well in YEARS and she knows he'll benefit too. He will. Promise. You will too. So please, pre-order the book.

And please share this blog post. So we can help women around the world dare to rest.

The DARING TO REST movement time is now. Right now. It's OVERtime.

Our world, community, and personal health depend on it.

xo

Karen