I drove by this toddler on my way to work this week. She was standing by the kitchen door, at the end of a driveway. A school bus door was closing, the flashing lights atop turned off. The little stop sign, on the driver’s side of the bus, folded inwards.
This little toddler was waving, waving, waving as the bus pulled into the traffic, down the street, and out of sight. There was another figure there– presumably her mother. To judge by body language, the mom was probably telling the younger daughter that she could come in, now; she didn’t need to keep waving. But the little girl did not seem to want to stop until the bus was gone.
There is something so basic using our bodies to work out emotions. Young kids learn sign language more quickly than they use words. Happy dogs sometimes wag their whole bodies, not only this tail. That little girl, this week, wanted to physically act out saying good bye to her older sibling.
We are embodied creatures. There is wisdom in recognizing this. Rituals like communion require us to physically eat. Liturgies call on us to stand, sit, and kneel. In churches we say prescribed responses; in schools we recite the pledge; in magical systems, participants recite incantations. In all these cases, we are not saying words to communicate meaning. We are engaged in talking as a physical act.
Our bodies are important.
I think this is part of why breathing is such an important aspect of contemplative practice. And so many meditations technique begin with bringing an awareness to our bodies. Our bodies are good and a fundamental part of who we are. These reminders are important.