Rastafari: Nature, Moving Slow, and Staying Meditative

"The lifestyle of a Rastafarian is based on humility and politeness. Rastafarian culture is about being in love with humanity and the planet as a whole."

- "A glimpse inside Rastafarian culture"

"If I was a race car driver and was driving at 5 miles per hour and I collide into something, I guess I have enough time to change me direction. But if I go fast 100 miles per hour, chances are I won't get enough time to avoid the collision. Society is the 100 miles per hour, Rastafari is the five miles per hour. See what I'm saying, Rastafari help you to deviate from the collision. Rastafari takes you away from the problems and the troubles of society."

-Rastafarian from Spirituality, Discipline, and Healthy Lifestyle: Rastafari Teachings


As a baby - the sure-fire way to get me to rest and to chill was to drive around playing reggae. I was a pretty chill and happy baby, but I wouldn't cry if there was a cool breeze, some slow movement, and a reggae rhythm. The combo was my happy place. My parents were convinced it was because I was conceived (yuck) in Jamaica. Jamaica was in my soul. And although I listened to the music, visited the island, and dreamed of the land and the water - it wasn't until my 30's that I started intensely studying the culture which led me to gobble up anything and everything I could learn about Rastafari. To be clear, Rastafarians are not just in Jamaica (and all Jamaicans are not Rastas), but Jamaica was my gateway into the culture. I finally found people that expressed many of my heart's thoughts.  


My religious beliefs differ from Rastafari, although there are a ton of connections between Christianity and Rastafari. That said, my individual lifestyle beliefs and this website are, for the most part, aligned to Rastafari livity. Specifically, it's the connectedness of humans and all of Mother Earth. Livity respects and appreciates nature and others because of the realization that God (and God's energy) is flowing through all living things. It's an elevated way of living. Livity leads many Rastas to eat an Ital (a plant-based) diet, live a simplified lifestyle, and maintain a slower rhythm. 


One of the books that I read, but the only one I own (not a library book), is Life as A Rasta Woman by Empress Yuajah. In it she describes some of the "rules" to being a Rasta woman. The rules that deeply resonate with me are:

  1. Meditate at least 15 minutes a day

  2. Jah time at least three days a week (time to listen to God) 

  3. Reading the Bible for an hour (or two 30 min. chunks)

  4. Charity as an expression of Jah (God)

  5. Anti-gossip and positive relationships among Empresses (Rasta women) 

  6. Resistance to society's rules on beauty: no bodily trimmed hair (including that on your head), natural deodorant/toothpaste, essential oils and baths as a means of smelling fresh (no perfume, body sprays, etc.) 

  7. Respecting your children as a way of ministry in your home 

  8. Communal living, which includes living off the land and acquiring few materials (this one is from outside research, but love it)


Freedom of Self


Yet, to reduce Rastafari to simply a natural community would be forfeiting some of the most complex parts of the lifestyle. For instance, one of the reasons that they can resist societal beauty standards, stay in an "iditate" (meditative) state, and practice a slower pace of life is because of "Freedom of Self." The idea that everyone should be free. Being free from the societal pressure of "more" leads to a more open way of life. To own less means that you are tied to less - less to clean, less to pay for, less to protect. Empress Yuajah says, "Rasta strongly believes in self-employment, for the purpose of self-freedom, creative freedom, and freedom of spiritual practices." 


Prof-I discusses that the reason people aren't able to hear from the Creator is that society is designed for us to desire too many materials. We are out trying to accumulate so many things that we never have time to think and listen. I took away from it that overconsumption, therefore, equals over-work, and as the African proverb goes: "A man with too much ambition cannot sleep in peace." 


I can go on and on about the beauty and the social advocacy of Rastafarian culture, and I will eventually expand in later pieces. But as for this article, it's been three days of writing, editing, and minimalizing. It is finished. 


I pray that you have a moment to sit outside in silence and breathe. 


Jah Guide - polepole, friends.  

Shelby 




Edited by Ashley Yancey