Flying used to give me such anxiety that I dreaded the idea of going to the airport. The ticket booking, the packing, going through security, and boarding the plane was a surefire way to get my cortisol shooting through the roof.
Meditation changed all that. It keeps me calm before, during and after travel, and also helps reduce jet-lag. Now I look forward to flying and find being 40,000 feet in the air surprisingly blissful.
Flying not only affects the mind, but is also tough on the body. The rapid change in elevation, the 500 mph plane speed, the increased solar radiation exposure, the drop in atmospheric cabin pressure, the electro-magnetic frequencies and radiation from the plane technology, and the turbulence (not to mention the dry, cold, recycled cabin air) all combine to make a rather demanding energy suck on the body. This makes it much harder to adapt to change without going into a stress reaction.
To mitigate the negative effects of travel, here are 5 recommended actions that I’ve found to work well for me. I’m on a plane at least once a month and wouldn’t be able to keep up with so much travel without these 5 tips. Try them out, and let me know how it goes for you!
1. Join the Mile-High Meditation Club
Have you meditated on a plane yet? It’s pretty awesome. There’s something quite peaceful about meditating 7 miles up. It’s a total game-changer for those longer flights because it boosts the immune system so you’re less susceptible to catching a cold, and it boosts energy to mitigate post-flight exhaustion and reduce jet-lag. Something about transcending in meditation helps reset our internal clock so we can get in the right timezone more quickly.
This year I flew to Europe and India with virtually no jet-lag on both trips. I timed my meditations during the flights to give me energy to stay awake at the right times so I could adjust to the new timezone upon arrival. The general travel strategy is to meditate during take off, for periods of time throughout the flight, and during landing. The longer the flight, the more you can meditate. Because flying is so demanding on the body, it’s one of the times I recommend meditating more than twice a day and for however long you wish. For example, if you’re flying between NYC and SF, you might meditate 6 or 7 times — once at take off, 4 or 5 times inflight, and once again at landing. There’s nothing like arriving at your destination freshly meditated. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
2. Bring a Hot Water Thermos
Hydrating with hot water is your second best friend while traveling. Put an empty thermos in your carry-on bag. Then before getting on the plane, visit a coffee shop in the terminal and kindly ask them to fill your thermos with hot water. Bring it with you on the plane and sip on it periodically throughout the flight. Hot water is very calming and soothing for the nervous system.
It’s best not to drink hot water from the airplane because the water quality is so poor. The right thermos is also important to consider. Glass with a protective sleeve is ideal. Stainless steel is the next best option. Plastic and aluminum containers are to be avoided due to potential toxicity leaching.
3. Protect your Nose, Fingers and Toes
Protect your nose from airborne toxins and dryness by applying a drop of nasya oil in each nostril. This is something I practice everyday whether I’m flying or not. I’ve found it to be super helpful especially in the winter when we’re most susceptible to airborne illness.
For your fingers and toes, wear a pair of thick socks, extra layers and a warm hat. You never know how cold it might get, especially on those longer flights. If you’re too cold on a plane it increases anxiety and compromises your immune system so you’ll be more likely to get sick.
4. Fast and B.Y.O.B. (Butter, that is.)
To optimize your body’s energy, it’s best to minimize digestion while flying. Fast from food and stick to water (hot and room temp) while flying if you can. Before you get to the airport, have a nice hot meal at home (like this oatmealorthis kitchari). In case you get hungry or don’t want to fast, bring with you healthy snacks that are easy to digest and easy to travel with such as soft fruits like bananas and organic nuts butters.
Now if you really want to try something unique (and super helpful), bring a small container of organic ghee with you (less than 4 oz.) and put a teaspoon of it in your hot water inflight. This will nourish and ground your nervous system like nothing else. The healthy fats in ghee do a body good!
5. Book a window seat
We live on a magnificent planet. Sitting by the window is a wonderful opportunity to earth gaze and appreciate the beauty. Notice the vastness of nature. How many shades of blue can you detect? What cloud formations are occurring? Perhaps there’s a sunrise, a sunset, or city lights to admire? Let the beauty stimulate your senses. The ombre fade of a rising or setting sun helps recalibrate our circadian rhythm. It can also have a wonderful calming effect, drawing out the bliss from meditation into the eyes open waking state. Plus, you never know, nature might just put on a fabulous show for you.