My 3 year old uses her breath properly, has amazing posture and is always direct—not passive, just direct. Of course her communication isn’t perfect, she’s 3 and her cerebral cortex is still forming so it sometimes feels like I am living with Sybil a.k.a. a “crazy person,” for those of you who are too young to understand the reference.
Watching her walk through the world with this overwhelming sense of presence and confidence started to make me think, what can we learn from these small children who have not yet been completely shaped by culture and the daily grind?
To start, these small people are very good at getting their needs met. When my child wants something she will repeat herself again and again…”Mama, I need milk.” “Mama, I need milk.” Mama, I need MILK!” You get the point. She, ultimately, always gets her needs met and no, I am not a push over. If more of us were a bit more direct about getting our needs met we would probably be happier and so would those around us. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day who is a nurse and she was telling me how it is not uncommon for nurses to go hours without going to the bathroom, drinking water or eating. They aren’t taking care of themselves. I imagine that if they were taking care of themselves and being direct about getting their needs met there would be healthier nurses and fewer mistakes. I mean, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, then what good are you to the rest of us? As said in a previous post, we are all interconnected and what you choose to do -OR- not to do inevitably affects me.
Now let’s talk about her breath and posture. It’s perfect. She stands with confidence, she isn’t hunched over, she breathes from her diaphragm and every movement she makes is embodied and present. It is beautiful to watch her and her tiny friends negotiate time and space with grace. So, what happens to us as we get older? Is it the constant sitting at desks? Is it because recess is no longer an option by the time we are in 6th grade? Is it because we forget to play? I do wonder if our bodies just stop remembering how to be in a natural state when we stop playing. Our breath becomes more shallow, we stop taking risks and our creative thoughts become lost somewhere in the folds and crevices of our brain. I am always telling my students to engage themselves physically–to engage the rest of the body when they are memorizing a script or presentation or when they are working on their breath and voice. Muscle memory is a real thing and if we aren’t engaging other parts of our body, then we are not fully present and we are most likely in our heads.
All of these thoughts are clearly observations that I have made working with individuals and by watching my sweet 3 year old and how she moves through the world.
If I had one request of you, I would invite you to find a moment in the day to play.