Tricia Hershey, founder of The Nap Ministry: naps help ‘people see themselves as divine’

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One of my favorite things about being a kid besides being able to eat chocolate cake without gaining weight was naps. Somehow as we grow into adulthood we are taught that napping is a juvenile or geriatric activity. As adults I find admitting to napping in the middle of the day is the equivalent of saying, “I’m lazy and I don’t want to work.” In my experience talking about napping as an adult is met with a lot of shaming from others because supposedly I should be using that 20 minutes working harder and building my empire. But according to nap guru Tricia Hershey (I love that title), napping is a form of radical self care especially for black women. Tricia, who founded The Nap Ministry in 2016, believes that resting is a form of resistance.

Tricia is profiled in The Cut where she says napping and morning baths are a part of her self care rituals. She also says taking time to slow down and connect to yourself is the beginning of healing personal and ancestral wounds. One of the most informative things that she mentions is that black people get less REM sleep than everybody else because of trauma stemming from white supremacy. Below are a few excerpts from The Cut:

On her morning routine:
As I’ve been deeply involved in rest practice and practicing what I preach — I’ve been listening to my body. It depends on what I have on my calendar, what my son needs, how late I was up the night before. I go with the flow of my body. But I always drink a gallon of water a day. I have a huge water container by my bed that I fill up at night to really hydrate myself.

I love to take baths most mornings. It’s a ritual to get up and take a nice hot bath. Outside of The Nap Ministry, I would love to have a Bath Ministry. It’s a place of peace and silence to ground yourself. I love coffee. I’ll make tea, coffee, check in on my son, and make breakfast. I like to sit in silence. I’m big on daydreaming. When I talk about The Nap Ministry, it’s more than naps; it’s also a way of slowing down and reclaiming our time. Resting looks like daydreaming, silence, slowing down, and naps.

On the pandemic exposing people who can’t sit at home with their own thoughts:
If they decided to stop, it would be a deep place of healing to uncover individual and collective trauma. This selfish behavior to think I have to go out and get joy from externals is all part of the brainwashing this system has done to us. It has stolen imagination to dream and hope and not believe in slowing down to connect with our own selves. This pandemic is revealing and exposing people’s deep collective trauma under capitalism and white supremacy. We need to evolve ourselves to find joy.

On supporting exhausted Black women:
When I talk to Black people, it’s harder for them to sleep. Studies show there is sleep deprivation in the Black community because of white supremacy. Poverty, healthy disparities, just going to the doctor: All these burdens America has placed on us makes it hard to get a full REM cycle of sleep. It’s been hard to tell Black people that they have been socialized to believe you have to do more and work harder to equalize yourself. We’re brainwashed by parents and communities not to be lazy; you have to be better. It’s a disservice to paint it that way because it’s not true. It’s a lie. It adds to the sleep deprivation that is mental and psychological that we don’t deserve rest.

On healing:
The concept of rest imagines a new mental space. It’s rooted in liberation and justice. It’s more than a nap; it’s a pushback and disruption to help make people see themselves as divine human beings. It’s about community care: the idea of communal care, mutual aid, and interconnection with each other. We offer care to people who live in a place that doesn’t give them that care. We all have been traumatized by the systems in place. When people are mean and angry, I really just see it as an indication of deep trauma of their own self. White people need to do that spiritual and ancestral healing too, learn of their lineage, of what their place means in the world. Not just read a book. They have to change and give up power. They have to do it on their own. They have to interrogate themselves.

[From The Cut]

Before I moved to Thailand for six months to study Tantra yoga, I was so stressed out that my hair started falling out and I suffered from chronic pain. It took a lot for me to give myself the permission to take care of myself, take a break from my hectic life and move to Thailand. It took me another two months to actually relax once I arrived at Shri Kali Ashram. One of the poses that features prominently in the practice is Savasana, the corpse pose, which should be the most restful pose in the series. But listen, that sh*t wasn’t for me. I would literally have panic attacks on the mat in Savasana. Once I learned to truly relax into Savasana, I would fall asleep at times which was a sign that my body was releasing all the stress stored in it. I am grateful for yoga because it taught me to relax and let go. Tricia is right, napping or any form of rest is most definitely radical self care. This is why I decided to share my yoga practice with as many people as I could, because it is my form of resistance.

I, like Tricia, nap most days because it is my way to power down, let down my guard and take a rest from a world that constantly tells me I have to work twice as hard to get half as much as my white counterparts. I personally think that latter statement is bullsh*t and I refuse to buy into it. However, constantly experiencing the violence that white supremacy metes out on the daily is exhausting so I nap to heal. Sometimes after a nap, I feel even more tired. That is probably because I sleep longer than 30 minutes. According to the Sleep Foundation, 10 – 20 minutes is supposedly the ideal length one should nap as it gives your body time to rest and recharge. I love the concept of what Tricia has created with The Nap Ministry and I hope that the idea of napping and self care in the Black community particularly is truly embraced. Like Tricia says, we are divine and are entitled to rest. As for me, to appease the goddess within, I will continue to nap daily and I don’t care how people feel about it.

A post shared by The Nap Ministry (@thenapministry)

A post shared by The Nap Ministry (@thenapministry)

— The Nap Ministry (@TheNapMinistry) January 4, 2021

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