The Mindfulness of Flying

I returned last night from Miami where I attended the Readers Favorite book award ceremony. I received the bronze medal for “In Pursuit of Joy”. I have to say that one of the best parts of being there was meeting the other winners. There were a lot of very interesting people there. Even though there were a few famous and nearly famous people there, there was a positive camaraderie that transcended age, experience or social standing. On the whole, it was a very positive experience. Many thanks to Readers Favorite for this experience.

But what I want to talk about is something I learned about flying. While I wouldn’t say that my “concern” about flying rises to the level of a phobia, I did always get a tingling in my gut when I looked out the window and couldn’t sleep on a plane because my anxiety caused me to have terrible nightmares. So, I tried an experiment.

Since I couldn’t get a direct flight to or from Miami I had four flights to work with. During the first flight to Charlotte I decided to direct my attention to the present–as in the mindful practice of observation. I reasoned that the panic that comes when you look down from 30,000 feet is about the possibility, no matter how remote, that you could fall and be killed–something that could happen in the future.

I discovered that by directing my attention to the present I could appreciate the beauty of the clouds and the earth below. By the time I got to Charlotte, the view was breath taking. The sun was setting behind the mountains, the few clouds present were all colors from purple to orange and the trees, unlike in Minnesota, still had their fall colors and the sky was a brilliant blue. Beautiful.

That worked so well that I did it again on the next flight to Miami. Soon it became automatic. When I left Miami for Dallas I didn’t even have to think about it. We flew along the coast of Florida for a while and it was awesome to watch. On the next leg to Minneapolis I found I was so relaxed I had a hard time staying awake.

Mindfulness is a wonderful thing.


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