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Arms Swinging (3/3)
Hello sweet potato,
Are You Ready?
The best way to get started is to follow this video every evening for a month:
Okay, if a month is too long, try a week. Ten minutes every night before bed. You can do this.
The benefits sometimes come after the first session, and usually become apparent within a week, so we're talking about a high wellness return on time investment.
For the first few sessions, if you find the rhythm difficult, I suggest you just do "1-2-3-4" without rising on your toes. This will allow you to focus on the...
The Arms Swinging exercise is simple but it’s the details that make it work.
Feet hip width apart and parallel,
back straight and relaxed,
looking a few meters in front of you,
breathing naturally through the nose,
a gentle smile on your lips.
In my previous article, I promised to tell you more about the gentle smile, so here goes: the key is to keep the smile as small as possible. Stretch your lips so subtly that no one else can see your smile but you can still feel it. If you're reluctant to smile voluntarily, as I was when I first started, know that you're not doing it for others, you're doing it to feel better, and that this gentle smile is not to bypass your pain and pretend that all is well but to soften your heart, allow pleasant and unpleasant feelings to flow naturally, and embrace both sides of life. With a little trial and error, you'll see what I mean. Then try smiling very gently with your eyes as well. You can even experiment with smiling with your brain and your entire nervous system. Without the gentle smile, you'll still get the benefits of the Arms Swinging, but since it can help relax your nervous system and make the whole exercise more enjoyable, why not give it a try?
Palms facing down,
arms straight but not stiff,
arms parallel to each other (hands neither touching nor too wide apart — you should feel your back muscles being gently massaged as you swing your arms),
when coming back up, arms are chest height (parallel to the floor),
swing without strength or force (use momentum),
swing at the speed that feels most comfortable,
keep the same swinging speed.
Every fourth time your hands fall to your sides, bend your knee,
very gently (the knee bend should be almost imperceptible to an outsider),
without passing your toes,
keeping your upper body straight (do not thrust your head forward),
dipping down twice (this is a very small bounce that happens naturally when bending the knee relaxingly).
Please remember that your hands and knees go down at the same time on every fourth count.
Rising on the toes
Between the first and second count, as your hands come up, stand on your toes as high as you comfortably can, and on the second count, let your heels naturally return to the floor.
in the flow,
enjoying the sensations,
mind is light and open.
I don’t recommend using a timer to time your 10-minute long Arms Swinging sessions, because its annoying sound will cause you to stop the exercise abruptly. You can use a clock instead. After 10 minutes, take,
20 seconds to continue swinging your arms while keeping your legs still, then,
20 seconds to stand completely still. This short standing meditation allows you to appreciate the new, pleasant sensations in your body and to thank yourself for taking good care of yourself.
If you’re not sure you’re getting all the details right, you can film yourself Arms Swinging, post it on YouTube, send me the link, and I’ll be happy to comment.
While most Arms Swinging practitioners experience pleasant sensations such as tingling in the extremities, a gentle warmth throughout the body, and a loosening of the whole body and mind, sometimes the activation of our self-regulatory mechanisms can manifest itself in more surprising ways. This is not an exhaustive list, just some of the more common ones:
feeling a part of the body coming back online — this can manifest as warmth, pins and needles, or a strange “massage”, in a muscle or in an internal organ. you will feel it wherever your body is weak, and it is a good sign that circulation is being restored in that part of the body. this should resolve by itself as healthy circulation becomes your new baseline.
vertebrae or joint popping back into place — because the exercise has loosened the tight muscles and tendons around the vertebrae or joint, the vertebrae or joint can now realign themselves. this should feel nice, like a gentle chiropractic adjustment.
a wave or cold or heat — the exercise itself did not cause the cold or heat, but because it activates whole-body circulation, the body is able to move the previously stuck cold or heat. with continued practice, this should resolve itself.
burping, flatulence, going to the bathroom — because the exercise cleanses the meridians, the digestive organs can be nourished and supported in their functions. if you have cold air stuck in your stomach, it may manifest as burping. if you have problems with constipation, it may manifest as going to the bathroom, etc. do what you need to do.
emotional release, crying — the gentle, soothing nature of the exercise can set unprocessed memories in motion, and you may feel something "stirred up" within you. the key is to allow the trauma to flow in a way that feels safe and liberating, not overwhelming. healing tears, energy flow, and emotional reintegration are wonderful, not re-traumatization. if the emotion is too much (I haven’t heard of anyone being emotionally overwhelmed practicing the Arms Swinging so far, but I can see how it could happen), you can shorten your sessions or even put the exercise aside for a while.
So far, all of the people who have had these reactions practicing the Arms Swinging have reported them feeling healing and liberating.
However, if you’re feeling any pain doing the Arms Swinging, please stop. This exercise should be pleasant and comfortable. Fortunately, there are many ways you can adapt it to your current mobility.
Adapting the Exercise
Overall, the Arms Swinging is an extremely safe and accessible exercise. It warms my heart to see grandmothers' faces light up when they learn the exercise for the first time. They enjoy moving their bodies in a way that feels safe and healing.
However, some people have physical limitations that prevent them from doing the exercise as it is taught. The trap, then, is to do nothing at all.
Let us draw a circle that represents our current comfort zone.
If we do something that's way out of our comfort zone (first X), we're going to get hurt, and that's not compassionate to ourselves. But if we only do things that are well within our comfort zone (second X), we'll stay weak or even regress, and that's not compassionate to ourselves either.
The key is to work at the edge of our comfort zone, wherever that edge may be. The wonderful thing is that as we patiently work at the edge of our comfort zone, our comfort zone slowly expands. This is the law of hormesis, and it applies to many things, including mobility.
Here are some things you can do if you have mobility problems:
Swing your arms lower. Find the range of motion that you can do without pain, but that still feels like you're loosening your shoulders. Over the weeks, if things improve, you can slowly try swinging your arms a little higher.
Rising on your toes is tiring or painful
Feel free to skip it. Just count 1-2-3-4, bending your knees slightly on each fourth count. Over the weeks, if things improve, you can slowly try to introduce the toe rising motion, starting very low.
Cannot stand for long
Sit on a stool (not a chair, because the back of the chair will prevent you from swinging your arms) to practice the Arms Swinging. Try to keep your feet on the floor and your back relatively straight. Over the weeks, if things improve, you can try to incorporate short periods of standing practice.
As a general rule, please do not force and use common sense. Also note that all of these recommendations are for chronic mobility problems only. If you have a recent injury that requires you to rest, please rest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I do the Arms Swinging for a different duration or at a different time of the day?
A: Yes, that should also help. But based on my experience and the experience of thousands of practitioners, you’ll get the most benefit from 10 minutes each night before bed: 10 minutes is long enough to get tangible benefits, yet short enough to establish a sustainable daily routine; before bed because it is a regulating, calming exercise that can help you sleep better. Instead of a lot of trial and error, why not try this routine first?
Q: Can Arms Swinging help me with [this condition]?
A: There is only one way for you to find out, and that is to give the exercise a serious try by practicing it for 10 minutes each night before bed for a month. Based on the experience of practitioners, it seems reasonable to expect, in the short term (1-2 weeks), improvements in sleep, breathing quality, emotional regulation, and pain levels. In the medium and long term, it seems reasonable to expect improvements in overall health, although more research is needed to understand what this exercise can offer. Please note that while I am convinced of the therapeutic benefits of the Arms Swinging as a stand-alone intervention, the wellness strategy I promote is multidimensional. You can learn about my favorite self-care practices here.
Arms Swingingly yours,
This newsletter is free and will remain free. It is 100% written by me. I only use AI to help me with the spelling, grammar, and word use. I welcome concrete and specific suggestions for improvement.
The #1 thing you can do to get started on this Mental Health Revolution is to print a Daily Wellness Empowerment Program (DWEP) Sheet and get going.