How I Dealt With Airport Anxiety

It’s 1 in the morning and I’m staring at the ceiling. I’m in trouble because I have a flight at 5 A.M and it doesn’t look like I’ll be heading back to sleep. I still have some packing left and I’m probably going to forget something.

There’s also the airport that I have to deal with. There is always a flight delay, always a rush to the gate, always a long line at security, always some TSA agent being a complete dick. There is always something.

This is the usual internal dialogue before a vacation. If you can’t tell, I get anxious about flying. I have no problem flying, it’s everything leading up to it that’s get my mind going. The irony is none of the things that keep me up, have actually happened. They’re all based on past experiences or stories I’ve heard. The anticipation of what might happen causes me to worry. I lose control of what I can control, my thoughts about the present.

Rushing to get to the airport on time, I got there a lot earlier than I thought would. While scrolling through Instagram, I thought why not meditate. I didn’t get to this morning while rushing to pack my bags and I’ve never meditated before in an airport.

I walked around with my head rotating rapidly like an owl, looking for a quiet and empty corner. After some time, I found a spot, sat in a seat, and scanned around. I saw no one that would be curious about what I was doing. In hindsight, it might’ve been less awkward if I just sat near the gate with my shades on.

Per my usual morning meditation, I closed my eyes and brought my awareness to the breath. Because of all the activity leading up to the airport, I was in ‘monkey-mind’ mode. I kept racing from one thought to the next. I looked at the senses of feeling and hearing to ground me. How did my ass feel against the uncomfortable airport seating? What sounds popped up from people being the overpriced food in the store nearby? What was the temperature like against my skin? My mind began to calm down.

After several minutes of stable attention on the sensations of my breath, . I moved from my breath to visualizing my vacation. I visualized three things:

  • the goosebumps my skin would have from the hot sun
  • the flavorful seafood I would devour
  • the quality time I would spend with my girlfriend and her parents

Then something happened.

An unexpected avalanche of positive emotions arose. I came out of the meditation feeling ZEN AF. I was primed and ready for Florida and some good times.

I didn’t pay close attention to the altered state of consciousness till the returning flight when I noticed something. I did not have one anxious thought on the return to NYC and that’s when it clicked. Associating the airport with positive emotions through meditation will help my anxiety. No longer will I expect frustration and stress, but the `pre-game`of positivity before the vacation.

Find a corner and meditate the next time you are at an airport if you suffer from similar anxiety. Focus on the positive aspects of the vacation or trip you are about to embark on. Visualize the experiences that you will have.