Cadaver Lab Love
As a movement educator of 20 years, I recently completed a second cadaver dissection and am continually troubled by what society deems a perfect body. I feel it is crucial for people to understand that beyond muscle, bone, organs and brain, we are contrived of layers of connective tissue, without which our structural integrity would be nil. It is all too common for majority of people to be completely disconnected from their anatomy. This disconnection results in the equivalent of a continuous emotional and physical hatchet job on their anatomy. In truth we are complete and whole organisms filled with echoes of nature. If you take the time to learn and know what is buried beneath your skin, you will fall in love with yourself in an entirely new way!
Most people don’t know the first thing about the bag they walk around in and I hope to help change that! Even most who study anatomy are receiving outdated information, due in part to using medical texts that are 20 years behind what fascia (connective tissue) researchers are hip to. I think this is truly too bad because inside all of us is a treasure trove of knowledge that can reveal how deeply connected everything truly is. No, I’m not just talking hippie dippy connected, but literally physically connected. Our organs, bones, nerves, blood, and skin are not just separate pieces of a puzzle but rather one elaborate continuous, pulsing, twisting form. My clients are often surprised at how manipulating the connective tissue in their abdomen relieves back pain, or facilitates an emotional release. Another example is how a shoulder injury could be treated through ones feet. As an embryo; your arms, legs, and heart are all scrunched together receiving signals to grow. All of YOU stems from one piece and the only difference is that as an adult is you became bigger, not less linked.
Not one cadaver is like the next, studying the body proves that our differences are the norm. Try to imagine the kind of relationships we would have if life began with the understanding that our individuality is rightness! To study from the human form brings depths of perception and understanding that engages the individual to live a present life. I have studied anatomy from books, skeletons, charts, models, (such as the pelvis model you often find at the OBGYN office that is laughably incomplete) and there is no better way to learn anatomy than to hold it in your hands. Currently, the focus on muscle and bone prevails in the majority of dissection labs, disregarding our gliding surfaces of adipose, (fat) and connective tissues as if they are not all thoroughly connected. As if they are unnecessary! The gift of these layers is how they allow your body to move gracefully through space. Connective tissue moves first, creating a pathway for the muscle to fill. Society however, promotes the cutting of flesh to become thin, to change a shape, to adhere to religious tradition. When a scalpel is taken to the body THAT is when bodies become separate pieces! Many antiquated texts still include circumcision as a sanitary procedure. Truth be told, when a foreskin is removed you are taking with it the immune system of the penis. Did you know that the foreskin removed in hospitals is most often sold for skin graphing, as it is highly valued skin? The reason why men may hang left/right? Their skin was cut leaving the erectile tissue literally nowhere to go but diagonal. Why am I writing about penises and proselytizing dissection? Mostly because we continue to cut and compare our endomorphic/ectomorphic shapes and try to change what we are on the outside ignoring the shapes of us on the inside.
As newborns, we are unique fully functioning and thriving organisms. There is no separation between skin, fat, nerves, blood and organs. Similar to a delicious baklava, our bodies are layered; only instead of phyllo dough held together by honey, it is fascia, which holds our body together. Fascia works like saran wrap in that it adheres to every organ within you and has the ability to change texture; whether superficial, visceral, or deep. On the best of days it glides and allows for ease of movement. On the worst of days it sticks and adheres from surgeries/scar tissue/lack of movement and cuts. If injury has occurred, movement may become staccato as scar tissue intelligently created by these layers form, to brace the body for movement where there is weakness. Fascia is an informational highway, sending messages to your entire being. The enteric system, known as the “second brain” of the body actually functions independently from your “real” brain. This false hierarchy of the brain in your skull, as the most intelligent part of your body, disregards these amazing multiple layers of natural intelligence. The gut sends and receives signals, records experiences and responds to emotion, so you should in fact trust your gut!
If you still think that your body is supposed to look like anyone else’s, quite simply, you’ve been had. Industries have vilified fat in order to sell their products and now our endocrine systems are wacked out, our brains are starving and many can’t sleep. Just beneath, or even more accurate, attached to your skin is your superficial fascia that is also known as your adipose. This layer that is denigrated, a passageway for lymph, nerve and blood vessels, is a storage site for fat and water; a protective padding to insulate and cushion your viscera (organs), and stretches to accommodate a baby. The weight loss industry brainwashes us to suck this “bad fat” out of our bodies because it banks on the belief that fat alone, is what makes our shapes and that it should be denounced because this results in much money spent with very limited satisfaction. Fat is your emotional layer that stores your life experiences and therefore bodies come in all shapes and sizes. You will NEVER actually look like someone else, like EVER because we are in fact all completely different. Some lead with a superficial fascia form, others are organ lead and some more muscle dominant. I have seen the largest form on a table contain the thinnest amount of superficial fascia/fat and “skinny” forms contain fat in what most would consider excess. The brain is at least 60% fat obtained through the diet, such as Omega 3 fatty acids which support mood, cognition and memory. How could we have the audacity to claim we should be without it? You wouldn’t cut out your brain or liver because you thought them too large, so start treating the rest of your body in the same manner.
Beyond connective tissue, there are multitudes of love affairs to be had with our own bodies. Everywhere I look in the world around us, I see reflections of the world within, such as seeing fallopian tubes represented by trumpet flowers, fascia in spider webs, skin reflected in cantaloupes, nerves in trees and body layers mountain sediment. I mean come on, don’t you think if you witnessed how your body is truly made and functions, that you would care for it tenfold? That you might respect and acknowledge your fellow man once you understood the web we live in? The kicker is that “you” are not even your body, this flesh carries the “you” around perfectly, that is until it is ignored, dishonored, denied, or abused. I implore you to explore and learn how incredible your mechanism is and I truly hope you fall in love from the inside out!