Hi, I’m Chris Wells and I’d like to share something with you. It’s a powerful new way of living. Like many new ideas, it may upset you at first. I guess you’d call it radical. And, let me say, before I go any further, I’m not being paid for this. The news I’m going to share with you can’t be bought, but the information is invaluable.
For the next several minutes, I’m going to ask you to just open your mind and heart, just listen. If there’s time at the end, I’ll take your questions.
Alright, let me get make sure my powerpoint and my clicker are working—I’m so bad at tech—check check. Ok. Great.
Slide one: The Religion of No, a society of people whose practice consists of saying NO.
I know what you’re thinking. When I was first exposed to these ancient teachings I thought, wait, religion? Isn’t that a bit much, off-putting even? Let me assure you, it’s for good reason, if you’re called to this work, and I hope you will be, it’s a practice that asks to be taken seriously. The effects of your dedication will be life changing.
Slide two: How did it begin?
Founded in 1995 in LA by Bridget Carpenter and Chris Wells, self-employed artists who were in desperate need of tools for managing their time and ways to stop doing things that they either didn’t want to do, couldn’t afford to do or they used to do but didn’t want to do any more, While talking on the phone one day, they stumbled upon the ancient power in the word NO. They discovered that it wasn’t just word; NO was a portal to a land they had only dreamed of before. The land of the life they wanted to be living. Since that day, their hope is that they can help others find this place in themselves.
Next slide: How Does it Work?
As you can see from the diagram, early instruction focuses on creating first the N sound, placing the tongue at the front of the palate, adding that nasal sound, followed by the rounding of the lips to create the O. N, oh. N, oh.
What follows are many awkward attempts. These early sessions are marked by embarassment but laughter, too. The elders are patient knowing that early NOs are rarely elegant.
Next slide: Implementing the NO. Role-play is crucial. The elder poses a series of questions drawn from the initiate’s life:
Hi, I see you do this thing for a living. But, would you do this for me, for free? The beginner then attempts to make their first NO sounds.
The feeling at the root of a real, solid NO, is rarely ever there at the start. Or if it is, the initiate has been so distanced from their own feelings and their own needs—hell, they might not even think they have any needs--that they can’t feel it. Thus beginners must approach their practice with trust, emulate experienced NO practitioners, and work from the outside in.
Following the initial instruction, newcomers are given at-home exercises—saying no in front of the mirror. Saying no to your pet. There are handy tips like post it notes with NO written in them, placed strategically throughout the house. When I first started practicing the Religion of No, I taped a post it with a big, fat NO written on it, to my phone—this was back when I still had a land line. Everytime that phone rang my entire body would tingle with fear, what will I be asked to say yes to today? But one day, with the support of the Religion of No, I was able to pick up the phone, and like a baby bird in its nest, my first little NO peeped out, so softly that the person on the other end couldn’t hear me. To my embarrassment, I had to repeat it but I did, just a little bit louder. No, I said, still slightly shaky but there it was, rather well placed, too, I might add. Beginner’s luck, I’m sure. But, I was on my way.
It’s important to know, this is not something you learn once and then expect your life to unfold with no problems. You’ll forget why you started saying no, you’ll be riding high, wow, look at me, aren’t I awesome? Then before you know it you’re having meetings with people you don’t really need to meet, taking gigs you wish you had turned down, engaging in behaviors and relationships that you know, deep down, aren’t good for you. Even after all these years, I still have moments when the phone, now it’s an Iphone, will buzz and I’ll think, oh, god, whatever it is, I can’t handle it. I don’t what to say. I take a deep breath and remember the sacred prayer of my teachers, No is a complete sentence.
The Religion of No is there for you, whenever you need it. Saying, Come back to the NO.
With our current crisis, these teachings are needed more than ever. I’ve created some easily accessible online tutorials including such topics as:
How to say no to a virus
Nos for germaphobes
Saying no to baked goods
And, How saying no can create boundaries for health and sanity as the country re-opens prematurely from a global pandemic for which there is no vaccine.
You can also download this handy wallet card, Saying no to stupid people.
Join the Religion of NO, celebrate your boundaries, state your needs, exercise your right to not do things that don’t serve you.