An Unforgettable Opportunity

By Darren Buford
[Editor's Note]

More than a decade ago, I had the good fortune to be invited to Gil Hedley’s human dissection laboratory workshop in Boulder, Colorado. I was flattered to be the guest of Gil and Thomas Myers, who was partnering with the lab as an extension of his renowned Anatomy Trains course.
Like most people who have little-to-no experience with dissection labs, I was full of trepidation and more than a little hesitant. My only relatable experience was from high school biology class where we first dissected a worm and then progressed to a frog. This was not comparable.
When I arrived at the lab, I was greeted by Tom in a waiting room that was separated from the actual lab. In the other room, I could hear his students working away. I’m paraphrasing here, but the conversation with Tom went something like this: “You’re about to enter into a lab where a person has donated her body for us to learn from. What you see may be shocking or moving or difficult to look at, but we’ll be honoring her and her donation and what it means for us to be deepening our understanding of the human body.” I’m sure Tom’s exact words were far more eloquent, but what I took away from his preamble was that this was a truly extraordinary experience and we must honor that.
As I entered the room, I saw 10 or so practitioners standing around a cadaver that lay supine on a table. Because these were massage therapists and bodyworkers in attendance, I felt a great reverence for their connection to the body and for the situation.
That day, there were lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” as Tom’s and Gil’s students worked with the body and uncovered new revelations of connection between their textbook anatomy training and working with an actual human being. They were amazed to see fascia being removed from the body and understanding the interconnectedness of it all. Afterward, I felt humbled by the experience and decompressed from what I had witnessed.
From her own dissection lab experience, Bonnie Thompson must certainly have been as moved as I was that day, for she went on to create her own laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after attending a similar training with Gil. In Joe Muscolino’s article “In-Depth Learning” in this issue, Joe refers to Bonnie’s lab as the “diamond standard” of anatomy and physiology learning. He was so inspired by his experience of learning about, and working with, Bonnie’s lab that he approached Massage & Bodywork magazine several months ago about pursuing an article. “I am a firm believer that anatomy is the fundamental core knowledge needed to be able to figure out physiology, and from there pathophysiology, assessment, and treatment,” Joe wrote. “And there is no better way to learn anatomy than from actual cadaver dissection workshops. That an MT has created this opportunity for so many therapists (and others) is a very big plus for the world of massage therapy and bodywork.”
We hope this issue gives you a deeper understanding of the current research opportunities available to you in the field and to the ongoing possibilities of those pushing the needle forward to increase the breadth of our understanding of the human body.

Darren Buford