You’ve done this before. That’s why it sparks a tremor in you. The blast of a fired engine, mysteriously tucked into a metal body, a missile with wings, a fragile piece of human invention speeding through an insurmountable display of nature’s power, clouds and lightning, storms and oceans, with nothing to hold onto besides shared armrests, your miniature bag of chips, your very existence cradled in the dangers of a chaotic universe, trapped inside a floating cage, a flying tomb.
Flying on an airplane can be viewed through a different lens once one adjusts the frame of thoughts upon the activity. Humans instinctively have a survival-based aversion to danger, avoiding certain animals, environments and situations that threaten human life and well being. It seems, though, that aside from the many personal risks we take in our own lives, the true expansion of a human mind and the scope of a collective psyche is broadened in the risk-taking decisions made through courage, fantasy, insanity, and the desire to bring stretched ideas into a practical mode of reality. The inventions and expansions of our reality, culture, and human development are brought upon through ventures that include risk. The airplane is a timeless display of the inner desires of the human to fly.
Flying is married with other existentially monumental happenings in our lives, the ones that call our attentive awareness to pour extra presence into that moment. Whether it be the awe of a child, the ache of loss, the pulse of orgasm, the adrenaline of fear or the bliss of harmony, in life we are pulled out of our numbness with the deepened experience of the soul. This thrill is why people take risks, why people fall in love, why we will create any activity that brings that heightened sense of being alive.
We have two choices, to avoid the experience, or to face it. The ‘fight or flight” that is wired into our minds can be expanded into a rational mind that is consciously decisive and self-aware of the operative brain-body experience. This state of mind is achieved through “meditation”, or in other words, a personal check of mindfulness. How do we achieve that while in an airplane, or in any other heightened situation?
You have your ticket, your seat, strap the seat belt, the phone is put away (right?), and the plane starts moving down the runway, slowly at first. A momentary stop, the plane rotates a bit, and those three magical words are assertively spoken into the sealed vessel of human cargo, “prepare for takeoff”.
This is when you do it, you face the fear of the moment. This is the roller coaster at its peak, it is the building elevation of climax, it is the transition of wake to sleep, life to death, the movements of one plane to another, one state of mind to another. Breathe! Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, reciting a frame of thought that brings about a lens which comforts your heart, which eases you into yourself. You can do a visual/mental body scan, while breathing, and inhabit the personal space of your body.
The pressured moments of life, when the risk of our livelihood and our well being are threatened, are opportunities to display an ability to bring yourself into a personally peaceful state of being. This is done not through force or mental coercion, but through integrating oneself more fully into the moment, observing, being, and in a wholeness of all that is, One.
When we lift off the ground in a plane, we can elevate ourselves into another mental plane, one that is vibrating with the freedom of trust in something beyond our control, beyond our frames of mind. We can imagine the layers of thoughts that we have built up as castles that separate us from true loving connection with all life, falling away as we are lifted above it. I like to imagine my mind dropping down as my body lifts up, closing my eyes with deepened breaths and adjust my mind with intentional words. Words of intention, recited internally or softly out loud, are powerful tools for the mind. Prayers, mantras, meditations, affirmative and gratitude filled thought, are great ways to focus the mind and collect the body.
The training of the mind, and the breath, is the control we have that builds the personal vehicle into a place where we can let go of control. The threat of losing our lives can fundamentally change how we live our lives. Instead of living with thick walls that keep us in a seemingly safe personal tomb adorned with mirrors and self-obsession and deterioration, we can use the lift-off to transcend this fear-based frame of mind, and find peace in a grander working of things, that we are unique individual pieces in the same puzzle creating one intricate picture, together. We handle our personal container through facing ourselves and the present moment with a deeper sense of reality and breath, and let go of the stressful attempt to claim an understanding or identity, that our lives requires a trust and loving of the unknown, in something larger. When the plane starts to coast, look out that window, that serene collective picture, the beauty of our planes. It is in these moments that we connect more strongly to ourselves, to a larger power, to each other, to our hearts. And of course, it always evokes a smile, being elevated with the clouds, experiencing the beautiful mystery of our collective reality on this plane of existence.
We prepare for “takeoff” and “liftoff” our whole lives, and death will be the take-off of our current physical reality perspective. We can lift-off everyday. We can lift our minds above the obstructions and open our hearts into the trust of life itself. We must let go of the things that weigh us down, especially when we cling to them as the structure and bars of our own personal prison.
We are fundamentally grounded with a survival instinct that is framed by fear. We can though, utilize our conscious mind to adjust the framework of our perspectives, allowing ourselves to bring more presence in an innately stressful situation, and out of it comes something much deeper. The courage to expand, to utilize the strength of the soul to endure momentary circumstance brings an intimate knowing of the self, as a trusting strength, securely strapped in for the ride.