Airports were one of the most sophisticated places I'd been. As a young girl, I felt important just going along to pick up someone from the airport! I just loved watching people coming and going to and from important places, speaking languages of all kinds, wearing suits, and carrying matching luggage. To me it was like watching the rich and the famous. Ha!
It wasn't long before I was booking my own flights - to NYC, to Paris.
There was nothing more exhilarating than heading off to see the world on my own dime. I even felt a thrill during take-off. Turbulence was practically fun. And I had no deep fears about being on a plane. Yes, I'll have a cranberry juice, please. I loved it all.
But that all came to an end during my first marriage, while living in NYC, in my mid to late twenties.
I became terrified of flying, which seemed rather out of place for me.
This fear came about after living through 9/11, but it was also during the very uncertain/anxiety inducing years of my first marriage. I think it was all related. It was like the anxiety in one area bled to other areas. (Have you experienced that, too?)
Basically, I feared dying.
I thought for sure the plane would go down.
It felt like I had a lot to lose.
I wanted to hold onto life with all my might.
But yet, the life I had was in shambles. My husband said he didn't love me. Ouch. And in those days, that meant my worth as a woman and as a wife was absolutely feeling threatened.
Perhaps as I sat on those planes, fearing for my life so desperately, what I was holding onto was unfinished business. Perhaps I didn't want to die feeling worthless. Perhaps I wanted more time for him to choose me, to want me, to love ME. Perhaps I wanted my life to be better than it was. Perhaps I wanted LIFE, not death, with every cell in my body. Perhaps uncertainty was not welcome; my ego "needed" to know I was approved of. Perhaps facing death without peace is the worst imaginable way to go.
So there I was with sweaty palms. Short breath. Fearing the worst at every strange sound, every bump. Absolute panic.
By some miracle, I was still flying places - to Rome, to Greece, to Australia, to St. Barths, to Costa Rica. But I suffered through it all...
UNTIL, A MIRACLE HAPPENED...
When I learned how to have peace SEPARATE from circumstances, the flight anxiety disappeared. Yes, it's gone.
I can thank infertility for that. And a first marriage that broke my heart. Talk about being forced to find peace in my circumstances. There was no other way to do it, because those circumstances weren't changing.
It turns out once you know how to cultivate peace in ONE bad circumstance, anything and everything is fair game. Including when a pilot announces we'll be taking off a few minutes late due to mechanical problems. haha.
So how did I do it?!
I changed the way I viewed bad things.
- I owned the idea that every circumstance is an opportunity to "at-one" with the Divine.
- I owned the idea that the most meaningful thing in life is to learn how to do that. ^
- I owned the idea that if that was going to be the point of my life, than ALL things (good or bad) could work in my favor. All things could be a gift that could teach me how to be at one with the Divine.
I learned by experience that the BEST way to "at-one" with the Divine was to embody Love, to embody the virtues that the Divine represents, and therefore change my energy.
- If I felt worthlessness due to my marriage, I reminded myself that I was a woman of God; that I had innate worth.
- If I felt panic at the thought of being divorced and newly single, I decided that this would be my moment to have gratitude for my life - for my gifts - for all that I am.
- If I felt fear in a plane, than I tried to look out the window and feel the awe of being alive on this beautiful earth, with fields and mountains and oceans below.
And for all of you working on this - I put together this little list of things that might help ease flying fears as you learn to cultivate peace for yourself. Though to me - these are little patches. THEY HELP, YES. But nothing helps as much as changing your paradigm about death...and about life itself.
Things To Do To Ease Fears During Flights:
-USE HEADPHONES to block out sound. Anyone who has fear of flying knows that SOUNDS are the worst thing on earth. So, do yourself a massive favor and don't even think about flying without headphones.
-ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR IF THEY LIKE FLYING. Start up a conversation about it! Open up about your fears. Before you know it, you'll be connecting w/ a human being and less concerned about dying. #VulnerabilityForTheWin
-RESCUE REMEDY drops or pastilles. They use Bach Flower essences that are supposed to reduce stress and anxiety. I used to pound these things.
-HEALING MUSIC. This is a MUST. Keep your mind engaged on music. It's a game changer.
-PEOPLE MAGAZINE. I found that the most mindless, easy to read captions and headlines were the most effective during take-offs. Diving into a non-fiction chapter during that moment just wasn't going to cut it.
-MANTRAS. "I believe in this pilot. I trust the professionals who were trained to prepare the plane."
-ENVISION A CALMING OR JOYOUS SCENE. For example, envision snow falling calmly and delicately. Envision babies laughing. Envision greeting your loved ones.
-PURSUE VIRTUES FOR EVERY PERSON ON THE PLANE. Cultivate gratitude for the pilot who loves flying and has dedicated his life to flying professionally. Cultivate compassion for any one else on the plane who many be more fearful than you. Cultivate love for anyone who may have just said good-bye to a loved one or has no loved ones at all. Cultivate kindness for the flight attendants who may have to deal with difficult people. Cultivate compassion for children who will likely be more bored than you. Cultivate hope for your abilities to not be a victim to this fear.
-ESSENTIAL OILS. Travel with one of the most calming oils like: Lavender, Rose, or Ylang Ylang.
-COLORING BOOK or KNITTING/CROCHETING. These are supposed to be massively calming. I've been eyeing this GORGEOUS coloring book by Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built.
OK, enough from me! Do you have any fears while flying? Has it always been that way, or do you think any life experience had an effect? What do you do to calm your fears?
(photos from flying over Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and the Galapagos)