Traveling is one of my biggest passions — as for the flying part, not so much.
With my bi-weekly pilgrimage to JFK International Airport comes preboarding jitters, mainly focused around my ability to be comfortable and sleep through the flight.
Luckily, with all the flyer miles I've logged, I've picked up some anxiety-aiding tricks of the trade. My favorite: Delta's onboard meditation podcasts.
Not that sitting in coach is comfortable for anyone, but being 5'10" makes it a tad more challenging. I'm often left restless trying to find a comfortable position in the middle seat without disturbing my neighbors, and the anxiety never fails to creep in.
"You know how you can watch TV shows and movies with Delta?" a colleague asked after hearing of my flying woes. "They now offer meditation podcasts, too — you should give them a listen."
During my next red-eye, on my way home from skiing in Utah, I typed "meditation" in the TV search bar and tuned in to the Meditations For Travel podcast by Ten Percent Happier to help drown out rumbling feelings of worry: will I get enough sleep to make it through the workday tomorrow?
Upon pressing play, a soft, kind voice flooded my ears — his purpose was to rationalize my apprehensions and encourage self-compassion.
The narrator prompted a series of questions, which pushed me to address my emotions and thoughts, accept them for what they are, then put them aside.
Since I chose a session focused around resting, I was guided to relax my muscles and mind while setting conscious intentions to compartmentalize any unfinished thoughts or plans. As my racing thoughts subsided, I was able to shift gears toward sleep.
No, the soothing speaker didn't offer me more legroom or swap my armrest-hogging neighbor for a more polite individual, but he empowered me to take control of my mind.
What makes these podcasts so great is that they zone in on common flying fears. No matter what feelings trigger your midflight worries, there is a meditation track that can assist you through the uncomfortable emotions and thoughts that ensue.
My biggest takeaway was to be gentler on myself. It's normal to feel claustrophobic when confined to a small space for hours on end. It's not natural for people to fly, hence my nervousness over any and all turbulence.
Sometimes you need a reminder that what you are feeling is common nature and that managing your thoughts can provide a lot of peace and clarity — a message Delta's meditation podcasts ground me to every time I'm 38,000 feet up in the air.