Integral Anatomy

Gil Hedley


Meet Gil Hedley, Ph.D., founder of Integral Anatomy Productions, LLC, and Somanautics Workshops, Inc. Gil is one of the most amazing, and humble, human beings I’ve ever met. His ultimate intention on his fabulously generous website is to share a larger vision of community and relationships based upon insights drawn from self-responsible and embodied life experience.

For over 20 years, he’s had the privilege of guiding thousands of “Somanauts” in the exploration of the human form. Gil created the word “somanaut” to describe those who explore the inner space of the body, and discover there the rich terrain of themselves. For those curious about his background, he earned a BA in Religion focusing on ethics from Duke University, and went into the academic study of religion for graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where he earned his MA in the study of religion and his Ph.D. in the field of theological ethics. He also trained in, and graduated from, an esoteric healing arts school, practiced and taught Tai Chi for a number of years, and was at various points certified as both a massage therapist and a Rolfer, though he no longer has any private hands-on practice, occupied as he is in developing educational programming and resources for hands-on practitioners from many modalities. Gil is basically self-taught when it comes to dissection (as well as videography, photography, and webmastering), and this explains the uniqueness of his insights. The world is extremely lucky that he shares his learning, even on the fly in the anatomy lab.


What a resource: The videos!

gil in lab

Gil’s intention in sharing The Integral Anatomy Series is to cultivate an appreciation for the hidden and amazing aspects of  human form, to increase respect for the gift which is our human bodies, to enable people to learn about themselves, and to do so in a manner that respects both the viewer and the material. His website has so much content, I can’t possibly do it justice here.


Courses and Offerings:

The following words are from Gil himself, on his website. This comes from the first page of the manual that we receive before beginning any dissection course. This might be the most important page, and the most important part, and the most important thing to remember,, so i think it’s worth highlighting here. In Gil’s words:


A Few Words about Donors and their Gifts:

“For my part, I am deeply grateful to those individuals who saw fit to donate their bodies for others to study and learn from them. Their remarkable act of generosity makes possible our exploration at this level, and I consider myself very blessed to be on the receiving end of these gifts. I encourage you to reflect as well upon your own status as recipient of these awesome gifts, and to find within yourself a place of gratitude as well. Now, one thing about gifts is that they are given to be opened. Our appreciation for the gift is signified in many ways, not least of which is our readiness to look inside with wonder and excitement and curiosity, having become present ourselves. You must be present to receive a gift! There’s an odd turn of the tables! When you actively make yourself present, you will find yourself surrounded by gifts. Spend the entire week unwrapping your present. Every day is your birthday!

This week you also make a gift to the donors and their families. Our work together is a kind of intervention in someone else’s process of letting go of their body or their accustomed relationship with a family member or friend. We are in fact stepping into the path of someone else’s loss. The donor’s have left not only their body behind, but often family and friends as well. The loss to the living may have been a grievous one, or a relief, or a joyful transition. We don’t know. The body has been embalmed and “cured,” usually for six months to a year. Now we will do our work, after which the remains will be cremated and returned to the family, interred on university grounds, or sometimes scattered in the ocean. We charge each group with whom we work with the following responsibility: let your personal engagement with this experience be a positive offering to those who will receive the cremated remains, whether family, friend, earth, wind or sea. When those ashes show up on someone’s doorstep one day in the future, or when they are returned to the elements, they will have been infused with your own appreciation. In this the giver will be gifted as well. I believe this, and I hold the intent to extend the giving back from whence it came. I invite you to do the same.

Having said all of this, I hope I have conveyed our insistent concern that we take excellent care of the cadavers. I am by no means counseling timidity, however. Dissection is a very practical matter in itself, frankly requiring the talents of both the butcher and the artist. When I say “take excellent care,” I maintain space for both skill sets in the process. I must be the butcher to cut with a knife or manually differentiate the tissues, to divide bone, to clear the layers, and to handle the cadaver’s bulk. I must be the artist to recognize and highlight delicate structures hidden in more amorphous ones, to finesse apart adhesions while preserving component elements, to reveal the beauty in the rock. I must feel into my own depths to look upon and feel the depths of another. Please also remember: there are Zen butchers and apprentices, master sculptors and novices. The medium of preserved tissue is new for most of you. Where one person may feel herself to be considerate and careful and enthusiastic, another perceives brutality or incompetence, and so on. Forget your judgments of self and other, be true to yourself, and make room for a multitude of perspectives, skill levels and comfort zones, while you track your own. Juggle many balls. You can!”


gil 2

Links that Gil provides for further seeking and learning:


Content credit: