Laboratory of Anatomical Enlightenment, Boulder, Colorado. Two-day dissection course.
People donate old clothes and household goods; they donate time and money. Some people even donate organs. It is very few who make the extraordinary decision to donate their whole body.
I recently jumped at the opportunity to travel to Boulder and partake in a dissection course. I stood with nine others around a lab table for days. The experience would not have been possible without Alice, a woman who bravely donated her entire self to science. It is with utmost respect and gratitude for her that I was able to gain such knowledge and insight for my work.
Experiencing anatomy in such an intimate way was a total game changer. Because the cadavers were untreated, we were able to view the muscles and systems in full movement: separating muscles, joints, nerves, fat, and fascia. Our bodies are so much more of a continuum than what we are taught traditionally. One of the most surprising things was being able to view the fascial sheath that holds the muscular system together. It’s clear and shiny and so evidently a crucial component in our body. Once this is removed, the muscular system has little to no order. We often think of our muscles as strong and intelligent but really, it’s our fascia that creates order, glide, movement, and incredible sensory output. Without the muscular system, the fascial system is merely a sock but their capabilities while working together is quite impressive.
We had four cadavers in our lab, two male, and two female, allowing us to do a lot of comparisons as we had multiple projects happening at once. We were able to see so much in just two days. I held a heart, felt a diaphragm, found a giant gallstone in a gallbladder, got an amazing view of the psoas and experienced first hand how it ties into the diaphragm.
As I walked away from this experience there is something so much deeper than just the scientific knowledge that has hit me.
My surroundings for those few days set the stage for this experience. Boulder is simply breathtaking: the views, the air, the soil. It is filled with a warm, open community of friendly and eclectic folks and I was struck by the manner in which I met new people; everyone talked about what they did in the sense of hobby. Their passions came out first. It wasn’t until we would navigate further through conversation that I would finally discover what they did professionally. Imagine that- expressing your passion first when someone asks you what you do.
While this may seem to have no bearing on the course, it’s proven to be the pivotal point of my experience. A portion that has lingered in my mind and forced me to ponder and explore more deeply.
I realized how evident it is when a soul leaves the body. Our bodies are merely a capsule, a vessel to get us through life. To understand the beauty of a person’s soul and also the glory in its departing is real power. Understanding the care that we must all take to keep ourselves together is vital. This is my work and my passion: the marrying of anatomy and enlightenment.
The way we hold ourselves together is so important: staying connected to our capsule, understanding it, and allowing it to work best for ourselves. Caring for our body speaks to so many aspects of our lives from past trauma to injury, joy, and self-belief. It all relates in the way we carry ourselves.
The social movement taking place, societal judgment, is bringing us further away from where we need to be. The more we strive for perfection and outward beauty, shallowness, whatever you’d like to call it, the further we move away from all that matters. What matters is how we journey in the world- what moves us and how we move others, our connection to nature and to people. Touch. What we strive for in our lives- these are the things that matter most. Sadly, we are moving away from ourselves. We focus, so often, on the surface, and forget to care for all that really makes us whole.
I recently read a quote from Buddha, one that has mirrored my experience and stuck with me, “Follow not after the vein, understand the ills of sense pleasures. One who is vigilant and meditative obtains deep joy.”
I knew the scientific experience was one that I had to be a part of. To see anatomy as I did is not something that most people would ever even fathom. I understand bodywork and the depths of our being on a whole new level and I’m thrilled to bring this knowledge back to my clients.
I know that I’m a lucky one. I’m one whose passions and work coincide.
I want to thank Todd Garcia for creating a beautiful, clean, respectful lab to work in and have these educational experiences. Also, Tom Myers, Holly Clemens and Laurie Nemetz for being great teachers and pioneers in the industry, as well as promoting curiosity. I have a feeling this will not be my last time in the lab or in beautiful Boulder.
Peace, Love, Strength