Since most of us do not spend much time in a laboratory environment, here are a few strategies to make your time in the lab as body- and spirit-friendly as possible, so that you can focus your energies well.
- Have comfortable shoes. It’s good to have a dedicated pair of shoes that are close-toed (for protection from falling instruments) and cushioned so that you can stand for long periods of time without feeling too much pressure in your hips and back. After my first lab experience, I decided to bring a pair of shoes that are exclusively worn there, so that I don’t have to worry about tracking anything around outside the lab. Some folks like to wear booties, which may be a better option for you.
- Invest in a second lab coat. The last thing I want to do after a long day of standing is laundry, so I invested in a second lab coat. I was grateful to be wearing one and have a spare at the ready.
- Keep a small, personal notebook. I have found it handy to have a small notebook that fits in my lab coat pocket, because I like to be able to write notes—either to capture something interesting that Gil or another somanaut has said, or to record my own observations in the moment. The first time I took the intensive I was so busy processing information and I thought I’d remember everything. I now wish that I had taken better notes day to day the first go-round.
- Find a buddy. Not everyone is going to be as excited about what you’re experiencing as you are, so it’s good to have someone you can share with who will let you express yourself as needed. A virtual buddy (e.g., a journal) is a great option, or you can reach out to the YTU community, or shanghai a friend into taking the lab with you (right, Alex?) 🙂
- Don’t try to keep up with your everyday life. The lab is intense, and being there brings up many feelings, memories, thoughts, etc. As much as possible, try to leave the mundane tasks aside—pay your bills and do your laundry before you go into the lab—but the pets will still need feeding (if you’re commuting); if you have children and/or a spouse/partner, they will require your attention; and there will inevitably be something that happens to distract you from the task at hand. Do only the necessary outside tasks.
- Be with the process. If you have a meditation practice, that can be very helpful as a tool to work with this unusual experience. Or you can find whatever outlet is helpful for you. I was lucky enough to commute mostly by ferry to all of the labs I’ve attended so far, so I used that time on the boat to write, to soak up the water and wind and sun, and to be surrounded by the living.
There are, of course, many ways to create a comfortable, positive environment during this time, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope that other somanauts from the YTU community and beyond share their favorite strategies and observances, so that those who are curious, yet uncertain, can consider making a choice that I found life-changing and life-affirming—to learn anatomy in the real world from the gentlest of teachers.
Learn more about Gil Hedley and Integral Anatomy Dissections here