Friday, January 9, 2009

Mind and Body Preparation

It is Friday afternoon, and I have one week until departure. On weekends, I turn to questions of physical preparation, mental strength, focus and acuity before a trip that will be this long and possibly demanding.

The good news is, I am going in the dry season. The humidity should not be very difficult, and there will be little rain. The mosquitos should not be in swarms! I will be doing a fair amount of hiking, but given the country is flat as a pancake, the physical demands should be quite light.

But, the mental demands are very great on these assignments.

I am very dependent on taking excellent notes. While, I have tried recording with a small recorder, it is too time consuming later. Rather, I must work like a "reporter." I have a notebook that can fit easily in a bag that is rugged and waterproof. I use simple pen and paper, and I am very fast at outlining what is being said while I speak with each person. I take photos with a camera that is light, but very good quality, with an excellent telephoto lens. I want to be able to capture the people, their geography, the wildlife, birds, and the architecture that is typical of the place.

I have to be very quick to notice how my hosts perceive things, and what their attitudes and viewpoints are. The cultural differences are vast, and I must immediately understand how their culture background gives them a different way of perceiving the world.

To prepare, I read about the history of the country, and its religion and culture. I try to understand past wars and conflicts. Where there are many ethnic differences, I work to begin to understand how majority cultures interact with minorities.

There is alot more to say, but it is Friday! My focus is on Mind Body preparation. I try to stay physically fit. I work out regularly. I do yoga to keep limber and to keep all of my mental and physical systems working optimally. I rely on my good health and the ability to resist disease, But, I like to eat foods in an adventurous way, in fact I must eat local foods. This puts me more at risk. I find doing mind body work in advance helps me to be acute, healthy and ready.

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