Keep Calm and Fly On
You have heard me talk about mediation before. Let me talk about it again. This time, as it relates to riding on a plane. You see, I am not always cool and collected, even though it seems that way. I get anxiety just like anybody else. The last time I had severe anxiety was on my last plane ride from Canada. I am not that fond of heights and planes even more so. Combine that with the fact that I watch ‘Why Planes Crash’ on the Weather Channel and I should have known I was revving up my anxiety for my next plane trip. And I certainly did!
“Get these m&*%$#f&*!%$# thoughts out of my m&*%$#f&*!%$# mind!” — Adam on a Plane
On that plane ride from Canada, several things were going on inside my head so I will discuss what my mindset was and then discuss the core reason for my slight panic attack.
When the plane was in the air going through my mind were all the errors, not successes, that can happen while on a plane. I fretted uncontrollably because at every conscious moment I replayed horrible fates. Not only was I fearful but my mind was tricking me into thinking I was in free fall. Yes, I was sitting in a plane and at the same time thinking I was falling. I know it’s strange, but that’s how it felt. Now the only way I got through it somewhat decently was because I meditated. However, afterward I knew I needed to better focus my thoughts and energy. I knew that I would be taking a plane again and I didn’t want to deal with the severe anxiety that was going along with it.
Now let’s flash forward a couple months and I am making another trip by plane. How did I prepare? Well, I knew for one that I was going to meditate. I did that last time and it worked, but I thought I could improve. That led me to rethink what it means to live. What I realized was life is a risk and bad things happen. However, that does not mean I have to fret over the hypothetical. I have to live courageously and with bravery during times when I am presented with my greatest anxieties. Thinking in those terms put me in a better mindset. Secondly, when I got on the plane and it took off I meditated with more focus and vigor. The image that I focused on was a person sitting cross-legged high in the clouds. This was a very powerful image because it not only reinforced the idea of mediation but put my fear of heights into a new perspective. I saw that gravity may bind me physically but spiritually I am free from celestial forces. After focusing on that one idea for about 45 minutes, I was in an even better state. I was finally able to relax.
After about an hour passed I opened up my laptop and started writing this piece. Pretty crazy right? Now, what was the ultimate reason for my anxiety and subsequently how I overcame my anxiety? My heart. You see ‘Why Planes Crash’ triggered anxiety in me that triggered an elevated heart rate, which then triggered a crazy thought that increased my heart rate. It was a vicious cycle. When I began to meditate and really focus, what was actually happening was my heart rate subsided and become more stable. Eventually, my heart rate became so stable and my thoughts so clear that I decided to take out my computer and write about it. You see, anxiety is a natural instinct. It deters us from doing ridiculous things. But what is neat about our instincts is that our mind can manage them. We are not bound to them.
I end with this. Anxiety is due in part to an elevated heart rate and an elevated heart is due in part to some form of anxiety or stress. It’s a vicious cycle that if left to its own devices can transform and grow into something that not only distorts our reality but changes the way we want to live: A life with no limits and without fear. Yes, my answer to all of life’s questions is to meditate. Go ahead and laugh. But some situations are no laughing matter and can quickly become unbearable. Unless of course you know the answer to the problem. It starts with an m and ends with an e. And it’s not maybe.