Our human body, with our upright posture, has a lot in common with trees. For the first four weeks in the embryo stage, we are developing our spine and trunk. My first series in 2012 Awareness Through Movement® classes began with movements to vitalize the spine or trunk. At the end of the series, one of my students commented after class: I can really feel my spine now, but I don’t know what to do with my arms. They just seem to hang there.
I looked at her. She stood tall and erect. When she moved, her arms looked passive, like a string of sausages attached at her shoulder. I assured her the next lessons would help her feel a strong connection between her arms and spine. I remembered having a similar experience early on with my studies with the Feldenkrais Method® with my arms feeling like limp sandbags. The awareness she felt in her arms was a natural emergence from the series of lessons with the spine. I told her, I couldn’t have asked for a better comment!
After four weeks of spinal exploration, just like embryological development, the “buds” of our arms emerge from the spine. And what do we do with these “buds?” My next series of Feldenkrais lessons explores this emergence and develops and strengthens the connection between the arms and the spine.
To set the stage for this emergence of our arms is an important bone. The collarbone or “clavicle” is one of the first bones to develop in our body. While the clavicle is considered a “long bone” in the class of our other arm and leg bones, it is unique in that it does not have marrow. It is also the only bone in our body that is horizontal– making a cross shape with the spine. Could this be a reason that the cross has been such a sacred symbol in pagan and other religions for thousands of years? Can you see the cross in this picture?
Like a tree, our arms are the branches that grow from the trunk. The clavicle, which in Latin means “little key,” is truly the key to the arm’s connection to the spine. While one may think the strong shoulder on top of the rib cage connects the arm to the trunk, it is the horizontal bone of the clavicle that connects the arm to the spine. In Roman days, door keys were approximate the size of this bone. Its action, like a key inside a lock, turns against the breast bone. In modern days, the clavicle is also compared to the strut of a car or horse carriage.
My next post will explore Feldenkrais® movement lessons we make to clarify and strengthen the connection of our arms to our trunks– to grow strong branches. The development of our arms as humans is a life-long journey. Some of us play musical instruments, write, work with crafts and tools, play sports, cook and use the computer. Our arms and hands continue to refine in skill level as we age and learn.
By the way, the clavicle bone is also the last bone of the body to finish developing at age 21-25! This bone really does have the last word in development.
Like the trees, our branches continue to grow in response to the stimulation around us: the weather, the shapes and forms around us, relationships to people, plants and animals, creative problems– injuries, work, play, survival, and so on.
Stay tuned. Creative forces are at work.
(Photo: “Babysitting” vervet monkeys in Africa)
©Annie Thoe, GCFP; www.sensingvitality.com 2012 - words on Feldenkrais, Healing and Nature