Flying… it’s not my favorite. It’s probably the only time I wish I was still drinking… I used to say I “liked to be passed out by takeoff.”
Yesterday, when I was flying, Martin suggested that I spend some time observing my anxiety instead of letting it overtake me. I was thinking this would never be possible for me, but as we were taxiing to the runway, I turned on this Ram Dass meditation recommended to me last week. It was originally recorded in 1994 with ambient accompaniment by Boreta and Superposition. Here’s the link to it on YouTube, Apple, and Spotify. It’s very beautifully put together, and it takes you on a journey of being the awareness of all that is, not too tightly identifying with it.
Let the phenomena of life arise, exist, and then change. Thoughts arise. Memories. Judgments. Plans. See them just like the horns, the traffic, the sensations in your body. They come. They exist. And then they move on.
We don’t attach our eyes to a leaf as it blows by. Why then do we linger in the thoughts of fear, and anxiety? We hear a horn and then don’t attach to it for hours. It arises, exists, and then moves on.
I’ll often grasp an idea of what may happen, and I OBSERVED myself on this plane fighting to let it go.
You can experience fear and anxiety without identifying with it, so long as you notice it, let it exist, and let it pass. Far too often, we don’t. We fall into the hole of “what was” or “what could be.” All fictitious realities created by the mind.
I had an actual mental fight about letting the anxiety, the worry, just exist and then pass.
“BUT WHAT IF SOMETHING DOES HAPPEN…”
I chose to keep listening to this meditation and was mindful to simply see myself as awareness. Moments later, thoughts later, the anxiety was gone without a second thought. (Don’t get me wrong- it still tried to creep back, but it wasn’t nearly as incapacitating as it normally is.)
Flying is kind of an irrational fear. It truly is the safest way to travel. However, we do this for so many different things in our lives.
For example, we do this with people who have hurt us. We KNOW that to let it go is the way through, but we feel vindicated in lingering in the anger.
We do this with our being “correct,” with our model of the world being the “right” model.
We do this with expectations of friends and lovers.
We expect every person to be in the next moment the same as they’ve been in the previous.
When we feel upset, we relive it. A fight with your boss that happened, for example, might be replayed 17 times to every person who will listen.
You had a fight with someone in the grocery store? How many people heard about that? Fight with a spouse? Did you call everyone and replay the who what when why and where? Over and over? Living in a moment that isn’t now? Replaying it in your head?
Your subconscious mind doesn’t understand future tense. It only knows now, and now arises, exists, and then moves on.
The meditation was very useful in helping me with this particular anxiety. I listened to it from pushback through takeoff (lucky me, the 17-minute meditation took me from the gate to 10,000 feet. That’s not always the case flying out of LaGuardia. 😂)
I recommend it! Might help if anxiety is one of the things you struggle with.
Hello Ande, just scrolled through the writers of the weeks articles and your title caught my eye especially as I read a little of the article before clicking in for entire read, and saw the word flying. Then I understood. I use to be afraid of flying and I know that is not what your article is focusing on, but I had to overcome that anxiety. For me, I now carry my Women’s Devotional Bible and randomly flip open to begin reading whatever pops up. I keep my journal nearby and will also begin to write down my thoughts. I still will have a glass of wine but not like I use to, needing 3-4 before boarding. I understand.