A Healing Exercise based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s
‘Vitruvian Man’ or
Canon of Man
Several years ago, my good friend Michael Gelb wrote a wonderful book called How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci (1998, Delacorte Press). In 2004 he published a book called Da Vinci Decoded: Discovering the Seven Principles of Leonardo’s Spirituality.
Michael asked me to provide some healing exercises for the chapter called Corporalita’/Nurture Integration. This gave me the opportunity to focus on Leonardo’s famous image of the Vitruvian Man, which resulted in an energy balancing technique that is easy and accessible to all. The following quote from Michael’s new book describes the healing method.
“Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is a composite picture of four different body postures. Each arm position can go with each leg position, resulting in four possible combinations. These four body postures reflect the energy state of the four dimensions of man/woman. Schusterman explains, "Most cosmologies accept that there are four levels to the human being—physical, astral, causal, and spiritual. Although different systems of thought have different labels for them (physical, etheric, astral, causal or physical, astral, etheric, I am), the idea is fairly universal that there are four dimensions to man. [In the Kabbalah they are called, Asiyah, Yetzirah, B’riyah, and Atziluth.] They are often called ‘bodies’ as they are imaged as shells of energy that surround the physical body with each one becoming less dense as you move away from the physical. From the astral level we obtain our psychic senses and we often visit this world in our dreams. The causal body is experienced in deep sleep and is the realm where we tap into what Jung called the ‘collective unconscious" This is the realm of connection to archetypes. The highest world is the spiritual world where the ‘I am’ or ultimate witness state of an individual exists. What we call God ‘exists’ beyond the four bodies and is beyond any description."
“You can begin using the Vitruvian Man for healing and integration by making each of the individual postures yourself. Like yoga "asanas" they serve to tune the body to a more harmonious energy frequency. In other words, when you assume these postures, a deep part of you recognizes a connection with a higher vibration of consciousness and your nervous system attunes to this new level. Do the postures in sequence beginning with the physical and ending with the spiritual level. This exercise may be done standing or lying on your back. Refer to the image at the beginning of this chapter [top of this page] for the arm and leg positions remembering to turn the left foot outward and have the palms facing forward in each of the four postures. You’ll get the most from this procedure if you maintain a quiet, receptive witness state throughout.. In other words, simply observe yourself observing yourself doing the postures. Hold each posture 3 to 5 seconds and then proceed to the next one.
1. Start with the legs apart and the arms in the horizontal position.
2. Keep the arms in the horizontal position and bring the legs together (keep the left foot turned outward).
3. Keep the legs together and raise the arms to the upper position.
4. Keep the arms in the upper position and separate the legs.
Once you do these four simple steps, your body will be "centered", although some imbalance will remain in your system. It is not necessary that you know what remains as it will quickly resolve with the next step.
5. Look at the composite picture of the Vitruvian Man at the beginning of this chapter [above] and this will complete the integration of your body/energy/spirit.
(Please note that the image of the Vitruvian Man image in Gelb’s hardcover book is reversed and looking at it will not balance the energy. It has been corrected in the paper back edition. His text is accurate as are the images on this site.)
Repeat these five steps seven times. Some people experience a profound sense of relief from this while others just notice a very subtle feeling of inner harmony. You’ll get the most benefit if you practice this exercise every morning and evening. And, it is particularly valuable whenever you are feeling tired or stressed.
An alternate way to do this procedure if you are at work, or if for some reason you are unable to make one or more of the postures is to look at images of the individual postures in sequence followed by looking at the whole image. Click the link below to see the 5 images in the proper sequence.
* There is another exercise in the same chapter of Michael Gelb’s book that unlocks hidden patterns in the inner heart, which are then balanced by the Vitruvian Man Healing Exercise, but you’ll have to buy his book to learn them (or take one of the Sign Language of the Soul workshops)!