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Liftoff: How to Ground Yourself and Rise From a Threatening Situation


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”.