“My Elbows Are Free to Move”

ay this thought to yourself little and often throughout the day. Or may be wait until you can enjoy a nap or its bedtime.  

 Write it, draw it, meditate on it.  Stick a Post It on a mirror.  Set yourself a reminder on your phone if you’d like to.

Practicing this thought throughout the day will help you notice this sequence and support you to navigate daily life in many ways.

As many of you know, one of Alexander’s major discoveries about us mammals is that the relationship of the head and spine govern the coordination of the rest of us.  Yes – all of us!  Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – we don’t separate – its all one thing – our Self.


A photo of Lucy from last year, drinking tea outside
The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal

“My elbows are free to move”

Today I’d like you to pay attention to how your elbows move.  And indeed – how they don’t move!

  • When you sit at a table to eat, do you keep your elbows pinned to the table?  
  • When you use your mobile phone, are your elbows tucked into your sides?  
  • When you drive, do you rest an elbow on the window or chicken-winging out the window?  
  • If you knit or sew – is one elbow tight into your side?

Our bodies are designed to move freely, to move in sequence and to move in the right order.  

This week I will be mostly focussing on various aspects of eating.  It is an everyday, multiple-times a day activity and one where we will all have habits.  Some habits may serve us better than others.

As a mother I often find myself pointing out my son’s elbows to him.  Does anyone else do this?  

Has your mother ever said to you “Take your elbows off the table!” ?

There may be different motivations for the same comment – but I am going to suggest that your mother was right.  And here is why…

If your elbows are resting on the table – they become a fixed point around which your body must move.  

If the elbow which is fixed to the surface of the table also has a spoon in it with food on it and which you are trying to put into your mouth – what needs to move so you can eat off the spoon if your elbow stays fixed?

Your head and spine!

For those of you who may not know this – one of FM Alexander’s great discoveries was that the coordination of our whole self – depends on a free relationship between the head and the spine and then the limbs.  So if we are doing movements which prioritise a part of a limb – the elbow joint – and then the head and spine have to contract to reach the spoon – we can do our spine some injury – gradually and silently over many years.  We will be mis-using ourselves.  We are going against the way our body is designed, and sooner or later it will complain through the language of pain, wear and tear.  Our coordination will be compromised and movements will become more tense and there will be more friction in your joints.  

Think of it this way, your head weighs between 10-14 lbs and a desert spoon (in my house) weighs just 2 oz.

Which is easier to move?  The spoon or your head?

If you think Yes – your spoon, I agree with you.  

Or maybe you were thinking your head feels easier?  This is possible for it to ‘feel’ easier if this is your usual and well-worn path and habitual movement pattern.  Sometimes what is actually more efficient and easier doesn’t feel the easiest thing, because its no longer so available for us – it isn’t our habit.  If we have been practising something else for years, then the natural thing can even feel wrong or awkward.

If it is normal and usual for you to rest your elbows on the table when eating and drinking, first of all Stop It!  Second of all, say to yourself, 

“My elbows are free to move”

Now, when I’m writing and when you are reading – you don’t always know what tone of voice I’m using, so let me try and explain.  Stop It, is simply an instruction – a firm decision within ourself not to allow the unhelpful, unnatural movement to occur.  We need to consciously make that choice in our head, otherwise we shall slide unnoticed onto the habitual path and our elbows will be glued to the table ‘all by themselves’. Then our head will bend down to meet the food on the spoon – our spine with compress, we will reduce our capacity to breathe and for our internal organs to do their work easily.  

When we say Stop It we give ourselves a fresh chance – we notice we are at the cross roads of choice, in this moment, to find a different path – a different thought first, then a different direction – elbows free – then to allow the natural movement to follow.

Every moment we are moving – either we are doing this well, or ill.  These daily emails are an invitation to notice what we do, how to make it conscious, and to make decisions little and often which will help us recalibrate and aim towards the most freedom for our whole self.  

Today’s thought is “My elbows are free to move”.

I’d love to know how this thought exercise is for you?  
What do you notice?  
How does your body respond?

I love hearing what you are enjoying about these daily writings and how your are benefitting and applying this in your lives.   lucyascham@hotmail.com

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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