Die to the past with each moment that passes. If you do this, there will be no suffering in mortal death.

Do not resist your fate. Accept your fate, doing anything else is insanity.

A Sordid History With Travel

Travel has never been a pleasant thing for me. Vacations and exploring new places have always been divine, but the actual act of “traveling” has always been painful. My mother gets extremely anxious as family trips approach. The morning-of is a nightmare. Unfortunately, I inherited her travel anxieties. On top of that, I’ve always had a terrible fear of flying.

Yet somehow, over the last 4 years, I’ve ended up traveling & flying quite a bit, whether for work or for my frequent desire to explore new places. In this time, something magical has happened, my pre-travel anxiety is gone. I realized this during my last two trips. As I was getting ready to drive to the airport, my heart did not race, there were no familiar knots in my stomach, and I didn’t feel sick or panicked at all. It was amazing.

I attribute the disappearance of my pre-travel anxiety to two things: 1. experience (which makes everything easier) and 2. acceptance (the knowledge that everything will be okay and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end).

One Fear Gives Way to Another

On the other hand, my in-flight anxiety is still alive & well. My body wretches in horror during takeoff & turbulence. Anytime that the plane is not 100% stable, my body & mind revert to sheer panic. My mind is flooded with horrific images of the plane going down. I am completely unable to form coherent, rational thoughts.

Instead, I do three things. I grip my seat handles until my knuckles are snow white. I breathe as deeply as I can to avoid passing out. And I silently repeat familiar phrases over & over again—for example: I love my dog, Bella. I love my cat, Mika. I love my dog, Bella. I love my cat, Mika.

While these coping mechanisms “work” for me, they are unacceptable. I refuse to be driven by fear in life & time spent in a plane should be no different. I should practice acceptance and embrace the power of now whether in a plane or in everyday life. And recently, for the first time in my life, I was able to do this—while flying!

As I write this, I’m 30,000 feet in the air on a prop plane, home bound from Columbus, Ohio to Newark, New Jersey. I experienced my first true moment of “acceptance in the air” a couple of days ago on my outbound flight.

Takeoff was fairly smooth, but we hit some turbulence later in the flight. I started to plummet into my usual throes of panic. Then suddenly, I could hear the voice of the great sage, Eckart Tolle, in my mind. Die to the past with each moment that passes. If you do this, there will be no suffering in mortal death.

My mind was flooded with clarity. I knew that I had to let go of everything—my fear, my past, and my future.

The music in my ears from my ipod became the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.

The light-infused clouds sparkling in front of the sunset became the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

That moment was the most beautiful moment I had ever known.

There was nothing truly profound about it. The song was a song I had heard hundreds of times before. The sunset, while pretty, was a scene I had viewed thousands of times before. But what made that moment so incredibly beautiful—the most beautiful I had ever known—was the fact that it was the present moment, the now.

Finally, it all made sense. There was no fear, no past, and no future. I realized that every single moment has that power—the power to be the most beautiful moment of my life. With that great knowledge there was no fear in my heart, especially not of death. How could I be afraid to die during the most beautiful moment of my life?

When you accept the incredible beauty & power of the present moment, your entire being is filled with the Peace of God. It is a feeling of true joy, not false man-made, shallow joy; but a far-reaching, everlasting peace. The Peace of God is the realization that divinity is within you. Understanding the true nature of the present moment is commandment of the Universe. It is the sudden realization that you possess divine power.

On the Path

It is amazing and overwhelming, isn’t it? However, I have a confession. Even after experiencing this divine state of acceptance, I still experienced moments of paralyzing fear during that flight and again, during this flight.

This begs the question: If I am so enlightened, then why am I still afraid? Why do I experience peace during some moments of turbulence, but blinding fear during others?

The answer is simple: I have not yet learned to harness the power of the present moment completely. I have only seen a glimpse of it. It will take practice to harness the power completely and to be able to control it at will.

It is a lot like meditation. When one first starts to meditate, she only gets glimpses of complete inner silence. As she continues to practice meditation and deepens her skill, eventually she will experience extended periods of complete inner silence and peace. With years of practice, she can call upon the tranquility of deep meditation at anytime.

With much practice and dedication, I will sharpen my ability. The great sages of this world have learned to live in this state of inner silence & peace nearly 100% of the time.

Risk Your Life, Embrace the Now

The power of now is not simply a tool to be called upon during bumpy flights. This power can be used in any scenario that causes anxiety—from social situations, to phobias, and so on. We should strive to experience this power in everyday life as much as possible.

As human beings we spend a great deal of time resisting & regretting our fates. This is insane. That is not a judgment, it is a fact.

A close friend of mine is terrified of flying. When I expressed the fact that I was taking a weekend trip to Ohio for a wedding party, my friend asked me, “Why would you risk your life getting on a plane just for a wedding party?”

I responded that I risk my life every single morning when I get in the car for my morning commute. In fact, I risk my life every single moment of the day. We all do. If you want to remain completely safe then you might consider investing in a good bubble suit or a padded room. There are all sorts of “risks” out there—car accidents, heart attacks, stray lightning bolts, killer bees, and so on.

Despite those things you won’t catch me in a bubble suit anytime soon 😉

My flight is about to land. Time to shut my laptop.

4 thoughts on “Overcome Fear of Flying: Acceptance & the Power of Now”

  1. I sent this wonderful post to my husband who used to be terrified of flying and now has overcome his fear to such a point that he asked to be a guest blogger at his wife’s blog to write about it. 😉 I see that you have beaten him to the punch!!!

    1. @ Farnoosh – Wow! I am so happy to hear that your husband overcame he is fear of flying, too. Well, I suppose I have not completely “overcome” mine yet — but I am definitely heading in the right direction.

      If your husband does end up sharing his story, I would love to read it!

      Have a beautiful day.

      -D.

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