As many of your may know, my life has been a journey which has encompassed many places and quite varied experiences. For the last twenty years, my focus has been on the body: how it works, how we can assist it to be as healthy and whole as possible. My work as a massage therapist has brought me to places where there were epiphanies in my understanding. I recently had one of these revelatory moments.
Body work has a tendency to bring you into contact with the human physical form and the human psyche on a very deep level. Different modalities of body work facilitate this contact in different ways. Lately one of my favorite modalities has been CORE body work. CORE stands for “Coax Order, Restore Energy” which, in my mind, is exactly what I am doing when I do massage.
The end of last week I attended a gathering of CORE body workers which was truly a blessing for me. We took a short class, and held a seminar. Then we worked on each other. Not only did it validate for me the value of my work, but it gave me a personal experience of the power of our work during the hands on session. The room was small and the group intimate and safe. We split up in such a way that the person who was receiving the work was being worked on by three people at the same time.
This was amazing, to say the least. The workers were all very experienced, and sensitive to the receiver at the same time as being cognizant of what the other workers were doing. The level of cooperation between the three workers was exemplary. As the recipient of the work, I can testify that when you have that many points of contact and work going on at once, you simly cannot focus your conscious brain on them. Your conscious mind just can’t accomplish that task with so many places to attend to., and consequently, it is impossible to block the work. The end result is, your busy brain gives up trying to be in control. I found myself able to sink into the experience and allow blockages and stored trauma to come loose. The effects were profound on a physical level as well as a psychological and spiritual level.
I encourage people who are not doing so yet to find a way to receive body work, especially such mindful work as CORE body work. I am not saying that this is the only way you can experience release and healing, but it is certainly a very good way, and I have found it effective for myself and for my clients.
The seminar was illuminating. I won’t go into all the details, but one of the results of the seminar was I decided to start watching a series of anatomical dissection demonstrations by a Dr. Gil Hedley. He has generously made his series of dissections readily available on YouTube, and I believe anyone who is interested in how their body is put together will enjoy his demonstrations.
Hedley is a master at dissection, and has detailed knowledge of the anatomy and physiology that he is laying out for you to view. While he dissects, he discusses the different structures and organs, and part of the glory of this series is listening to him philosophize about the miracle that is our human body.
Yesterday I was watching his Integral Anatomy series, specifically the section on superficial fascia, which some people refer to as the adipose layer. When he got to the end of the dissection and was reverently admiring the superficial fascia layers he had removed from a male and a female cadaver, he went into a reverie that so moved me that I sat down and transcribed the whole thing so I could study it in depth. I feel the ideas in it are so powerful and beautiful, I wanted to share it with you.
Here is Gil Hedley’s very beautiful discussion of the superficial fascia layer of the human body:
The superficial fascia is truly beautiful, an awesome structure: A sense organ; a warming device; a place of sensuality and comfort as well as a place of reserve energy; stored life force; emotional movement’ and other possibly as yet undiscovered functions and purposes…
…Our culture places a premium on “fat free” and “no fat” and there is a certain level of “problematization” of the adipose layer — the superficial fascia — in our culture. And yet, as we view and appreciate this superficial fascia here, we can come to a deeper understanding of the many positive attributes of this layer, that cannot be dismissed and which we judge at our own risk, really, at risk of our health and our human experience.
The superficial fascia, like all connective tissues, is piezoelectric; it has the capacity to generate electrical fields when stretched and pulled in gravity. It’s my belief that this is part of what makes this a sensing layer, so that the interaction of the fields generated by the superficial fascia with the surrounding fields in the environment enable the sensitive person, sensitive in virtue of their superficial fascia, to listen to their surrounding environments at a very deep level.
Perhaps this might be a physiological and anatomical root of what we reference as female intuition, and our general cultural movement to judge, and dismiss, and diminish the adipose layer may in fact represent not only a judgment of the feminine, but of a feminine power that is inherent in this layer for both men and women. At the same time we can recognize in this figure here how, without the superficial fascia, ultimately the form is masculinized. The demand, the unreasonable demand, for the reduction in an inordinate manner of this layer is, in a sense, asking women to reduce something that is inherent to their structure and something that is integral to all human form.
Our culture also defines where on the body superficial fascia may ideally manifest, and yet those ideals make no reference to the natural genetic dispositions and the psychodynamic tendencies of any given individual. Each person is quite unique in their patterns of distribution of superficial fascia, and it is unreasonable to place upon ourselves the demands that it be distributed just here at the hips or just here at the breasts and not elsewhere as well. Instead, let’s make an invitation to both recognize this layer, acknowledge it, and accept it as inherent to our human form; as inherent to it as an other layer and requiring our acceptance and integration of it so that we might step into the power of this layer.
The power of this layer is both something at a physiological level and a sensitivity level, as we’ve discussed, as well as the shifting power in a culture when a culture accepts its feminine layer. Also, this layer represents to us all a form of resource. While it is true that in our culture we have epidemic obesity, this is hardly the fault of the layer itself. What it represents instead is a distorted relationship with the layer, which we can correct by engaging it, accepting it, and developing our understanding of it.
It is my hope that this exploration of superficial fascia will provide grist for the mill, and will provoke curiosity and investigation on the part of scientist and somanauts alike, who can explore and tell us more about the properties of this layer. Within recent times it has been demonstrated that the entire level is replete with actively contractile muscle fibers previously overlooked, and that these muscle fibers are part of our wound healing response. This I learned form Robert Schleip, who is exploring with researchers in England this contractile property of fascia itself.
Of course, within the female superficial fascia, the breast also resides, and there we have a place of nourishment and specialization of the fibers there.
Thank you Dr. Hedley. I resolve to engage, accept, and devellop my understanding of my superficial fasica, my adipose layer, and to revel in the power that it respresents.
Until next time, I wish you all health and joy.