For many of us, the joy of moving our bodies may be superseded by the shame associated with the periods of time in which we are still or inactive. Call it the curse of capitalism or generations of ableism, but we live in a culture that celebrates those who are in constant movement. Standardized beauty that centers thin bodies and muscular frames leaves us with the subconscious reminder that we must exercise often and make physical movement a top priority in order to be desirable. We are taught that “success” will be attainable only if we work hard and relentlessly. We must stay moving, focused, and take no days off. These highly unsustainable markers of worthiness can cloud and complicate our relationship to movement.
Pre-Covid, I thrived off a jam-packed work schedule. Every time a friend remarked on how busy I was, it felt as though I had received a congratulatory gold star. In retrospect, these comments satisfied the same part of me that would celebrate when people positively remarked on the weight I lost when training for my first half marathon in my early twenties. I love my work and I love to move my body, but what does it mean when we attach our value so tightly to movement, without honouring the moments in which we are called to invoke stillness?
The issue of course does not lie within movement itself, but rather the stigma attached to slowing down. We associate doing “nothing” all day to laziness, despite the widely accepted knowledge that resting can have profound mental health and even productivity benefits. So many of us have had our movement routines shaken up by a global phenomenon we could never have predicted, and we are being forced to reckon with feelings of discomfort around doing less. We could all benefit from integrating more compassion into our lives.
Integrating more compassion into our lives can look like many things. For me it looks like honouring my decision to walk to a yoga class in the rain one day, and have a two hour midday nap the next day. It looks like forgiving myself for ignoring my email inbox, while carving out time to go for a walk in the park with my sisters. Compassion is choosing to move our bodies out of self-love as opposed to shame or guilt. It is appreciating waves of inactivity, trusting that our bodies can and always will come back to movement when they are ready.
Shanique Kelly, aka Softieshan, is a Vancouver DJ and event producer. Her passion is in creating safe spaces through events for people who are part of marginalized communities, whether they are people of colour or part of the LGBTQ+ community. By curating these events thoughtfully, and purposefully, her parties have become spaces for people who don’t always feel safe or comfortable. Follow Shanique on Instagram @softieshan