I don’t sit and meditate. I have a monkey mind some might call ADD. My friends with monkey minds don’t sit and meditate. Some bike, others run. One non-moving meditation I actually liked and practiced for a while is Skeleton Meditation. I don’t remember where it came from. Probably Tibet or somewhere in Asia. I’ve read or heard about it and just liked it.
In Skeleton Meditation, I lay down as a corpse (Shavasana if you are yoga person) and observe my body decompose layer by layer, muscle by muscle, till my form becomes a skeleton. It was peaceful experience. I liked my clean dry white skeleton on the ground. Then I imagine a bamboo shoot coming through my eye socket, reaching up and up to the sky. And I fell asleep peacefully.
There was one major problem for me with this meditation. At that time I didn’t have much awareness of my own body. My perception about my body was something like a gingerbread man. So the entire process to become a skeleton took only a few minutes. Poof, my leg muscles were gone.
If you are fully plugged into your body, this meditation could take at least hours, maybe years. This is an ultimate “let it go” meditation. Then you may let the skeleton go, too. Or you may reconstruct a new body from the skeleton, adding layer by layer.
After decades of training of one kind or another, the latest of which is a full body dissection workshop, I’m much more plugged in. Tonight, I might be able to meditate for maybe 10 minutes…
Today, we observed the variety of superficial fascia presentation in multiple forms. Superficial fascia layer is mostly composed of adipose tissue. i.e. your friendly loose connective tissue with fat. It lies between the skin layer and the deep fascia layer. It’s a matrix filled with adipose tissue.
What I learned today:
Slight or moderate kookiness is very good for the universe.
Being yourself and keep on pursuing whatever crazy idea that would keep you interested in is the source of the Great kookiness in a very positive way.
When I massage, I am not accessing muscles. I am talking to the superficial fascia which is inseparable from the skin layer, just like the skin of an apple. The skin is continuum of the flesh.
We can be respectful of and happy with the cadaver.
The Color Wheel of Somanauts. Morning Healing Ritual.
Dealing with cadavers requires us to embrace our own mortality. When uncomfortable, we tend to “check out” of the reality of our body and take a refuge in our mind. It is important to stay grounded and connected to the physical reality of each other. Unexpected emotions could bubble up to the surface. We need a safe container for them during the workshop. It is safe to let it speak and it is also safe not to share. It’s O.K. You process in your own way. We just hold a safe space for ourselves, absolutely with no judgement.
Gil, the instructor,held a space for every one of us.
We spent entire day separating the skin from the underlying superficial fascia, literally getting under the skin of Tony.
What I learned today.
The skin separates me from what is not me.
The skin protects me from what is not me, like a breathable armor.
We shed the surface layer of skin like crazy.
Shed skin becomes what is not me or is it still part of what is me?
You should not cut your armor unless absolutely necessary. Once cut, the energy field changes dramatically even in a cadaver. Tensional integrity will be lost.
We are innately wet and moist being but without the skin/boundary, we dry pretty quickly and it will change the quality of being.
The skin does not want to be separated from the adipose layer.
Considering how delicately we worked to seperate the skin intact, liposuction is abomination.
I am happy with the way our group members treat Tony. I feel each of us is making our best effort to make Tony comfortable. He is cared and respected.
We have 8 groups. Each group has started to show its distinct personality and it’s reflected on the cadaver we are working on as if we are sculpting our own image out of the “form”.
Drawing by Tam Tran Valenti
The Infinity Circle of Lunch
Most of us spent one hour lunch time outside on the green grass under the blue sky. We spontaneously created the infinity circle of lunch. After iIntensly staring at yellow adipose tissue, we need other colors to balance our brain.
Today I met the legendary Dr. Hedley, the Fuzz Speech Guy, and our cadaver “Tony” at an undisclosed location (out of respect to the donors). Entire class consists of about 30 people. My team includes two structural integrators (a Rolfer and a KMIer), a Pilates teacher, and a massage therapist.
I will spend 8 hours/day, 6 days a week, for three weeks to learn who I am with Tony.
What I leaned today:
Skin color is not even epidermis deep.
When you stand cadavers up, they look happier and you feel them more personal.
Cadavers go where their hips go.
An Invisible and inaudible bell works as well as a visible one
Hands and feet are as personal as faces.
Once I get used to, my brain re-calibrates for through-the-exam-gloves touch and I can feel detailed texture just like with direct contact.
Gil calls a cadaver human “form.”
Holding each form in the standing position revealed the story we didn’t see when they were lying on the table. How the body occupies the space is an integral part of who they are. Standing makes them look closer to the life. One female form was surprisingly tall with dancer’s legs. Standing, she looked younger and livelier. Personality of the form takes shape through interaction with the gravity. Narrative emerges from the relationship of the body with gravity in space.
Integral Anatomy Workshop is an intensive hands-on human dissection workshop for manual therapists/structural integrators/body workers/philosophers. It’s quite different from medical school gross anatomy lab classes.
Dissection is an act of introspection. By unwrapping the layers of the donor’s gift, participants uncover hidden layers of themselves. Gil Hedley, Ph.D.
The Gross Anatomy Lab is super clean.
The lab is super clean. The color scheme is: whitish linoleum floor; white lab coats; black counter tops; black chairs; orange cabinets, and lots of stainless steel glare under fluorescent light.
We spent about 7 hours in this totally artificial sanitized space with continuous humming of some kind of machines in the background.
Day 1 is for observation. No scalpel. We spent long time with Tony, taking notes of surface marks, such as surgical scars. Most of the students are one kind of manual therapists or another. Our way to relate is distinctively different from med students. We touch and feel to relate.