‘Everyone of us is spinning the thread of being human’ were the words of Gil Headley as he welcomed us all in August 2020. It was of course via Zoom, but an experience I will never forget all the same. As part of my deeper training last year, I chose to do something, which I am aware might not be for everyone. I seek not for approval but rather for understanding. I also stress that how Gil undertakes his work is with a respect, a gratitude, an appreciation and a love, which I have never experienced before.
Gil is known by many for his work on fascia, which most of us might know as connective tissue. A limiting description to say the least. He became very well-known for his work by giving a talk on what he called ‘the Fuzz’. You can find it on You Tube if you’re interested. Fascia has become a bit of ‘hip’ word now. You hear of myofascial release as a form of massage for example. Yet we still know very little about it really.
Gil is dedicated to exploring integral anatomy, something he calls inner space. He argues that in traditional anatomy and physiology teaching, we only see things in parts. We don’t see what connects each part of us (fascia!) as it’s always removed. This seems crazy, but is the way anatomy and physiology has been taught for years. Your liver/femur head/hip is as unique to you as your face, but we just don’t see this beauty and individualism in textbooks.
Gil talks in textures and layers. For our human body is as natural as the substances we see all around us in nature. The 5-day course I attended with him in August was a live dissection of a male body. I found it deeply moving and feel privileged to have experienced it. At the start of each day, Gil took the time to honour the body and to thank its ‘owner’. All his work is possible through donors, for which I, among many, am truly grateful.
I witnessed the dissection of a fixed form, which means there is no blood. Each day Gil took a different ‘system’ and with a live team supporting him and experiencing this in person, he broke the form down ‘layer by layer’. So what struck me the most during this experience?
- we really are a continuum and everything is connected. It is almost impossible to see where one ‘part’ ends and another starts. In fact do they start and end?
- yes we need to break the human body down into ‘parts’ such as skin, superficial fascia, hip bones and so on, but this is a conscious choice to aid understanding.The body is one
- our fascia is stronger than anything in the body apart from bones. It is like chainmail in strength and it is the layers of this fascia that enable the human body to be a profound movement structure. And yet we’ve been conditioned to imagine a ‘muscle man’ when we think of our muscles and strength… 100% of a muscle is attached to something not just the two ends
- And don’t get me started on what happens when we breathe well…..wow, that’s a book in itself.
This is just a tiny part of what I learnt. I’ve since done a little more with Gil and each time it blows my mind. Did you know that your heart literally dances? I find that truly beautiful. Not to mention that when you take away our skin, we really are all yellow underneath. I have no more words for this given the year we’ve experienced in 2020…
If you’re interested in Gil’s work, then do watch the YouTube link. Especially if you’re interested in injury and/or ageing. Gil’s website is www.gilheadley.com. Warning: it does contain images some might find graphic, but others not. After all, we are all different. 😉 x