Author Fariha Róisín Says Wellness Has a Whitewashing Problem

Beyond that, I think bringing authentic voices into the wellness community—people who are actually invested in a holistic understanding of wellness practices—is essential.

How can we get back to the original culture of meditation, specifically, without making it a commercial product?

Meditation should be free. If it’s capitalized, then I think 100% of those proceeds should be going back to Indian people. Why isn’t meditation free? It’s free in India. If you want to go learn about it, you learn from masters who are willing to give their time.

It shouldn’t be for profit, and it’s extremely unnerving to me that it’s a billion-dollar industry. I think it’s disgusting that capitalism has become conflated with evolution. That’s insane. What I would like to see is for these companies to give money back to the Global South, and show colonial reparations in that way.

You mention the Nap Ministry, an organization that focuses on the power of naps as a tool for community healing, in your book. One of its mission statements is, “Rest is resistance.” Why is rest important?

Rest is so necessary. I often feel deeply, deeply unrestful. I need to move. I’m very driven in that sense. But I’ve learned that I also need to rest, and process, and take necessary downtime regularly. That’s a part of it as well—it’s not just resting, it’s resting regularly. What we need as humans is the basics—love, food, water, and rest.

But our capitalist world forces you to prioritize productivity, so you have to learn to say, “No, I’m actually going to take today off” if you’re able to, or, “I’m going to take it really slow today.” Finding work that allows you to do that is ideal, but I hope we can change the language and mindset around work on a societal level to make rest more accessible to everyone. It’s very North American to work yourself to the bone.

How does someone protect rest?

We’re hopefully shifting the stigma around rest, but protecting rest is an individual thing. For me, it’s saying, “Actually, I do need a massage. I do need to rest every day.” And it’s not just resting, but resetting as well. We are not supposed to be on the go all the time. Many of us have different capabilities and require a different pace. I have to go offline from time to time and that, to me, is a reset. I’m starting afresh by resting and regenerating—something you see often in other animals and the natural world—so I can have more energy to be present.

So I think having more honest conversations with your friends, colleagues, and peers, in whatever way you can, and creating that language of prioritizing resting and recharging is important. For example, I might say to a friend, “I need to cancel plans because my capacity is low right now.” Or for work, I’d say, “My bandwidth is low, so I must say no to the assignment.”