When you’re anxious—your heart’s pounding and you feel a loss of control—you may be experiencing an imbalance of too much air and space in relation to earth. It’s very common to come up against these sensations when flying. Turbulence or not, being in an airplane means you are literally hurtling through space. This is as ungrounded as you can get. When you’re feeling this way, it’s time to rebalance to feel good and safe again.
The quickest way to regain stability, comfort and calmness is to go for routine, warmth, serenity and nourishment. These are precisely the things that are not typically present on an aircraft cabin or on a trip away from home. These are qualities that need to be built and consciously cultivated in our daily lives. Here are three techniques for making you feel more grounded even when you are not.
1. Find the ground, literally.
Wherever you are, say flying over the Atlantic, plant your feet flat on the floor and your derriere in your seat. Feel your spine rising up as you push against the floor and seat cushion. Be forceful with your overactive mind and tell it to focus on stable things, like your breath (try lengthening the exhale so it is longer than the inhale) and the feeling of the seat and floor beneath you. Identity what your senses are picking up: The hum of the engines. The sounds of your breath. The feeling of your quick pulse and beating heart. Use these to help ground yourself. For an added sense of stability either place you palms down on the tops of your thighs and apply some light pressure or clasp your hands together, palm to palm, and feel the warmth and security of the clasp.
2. Gently massage your ear.
In Ayurveda, we recognize that there are thousands of touch points called Marma points around the body that can stimulate healing. An easy accessible area is your ears and they are full of these points. Gently massage your ears with your thumb and forefinger. Softly pull down on the lobes, pull out at mid ear, and up at the top. Rub the inner ear surface. Keep at it for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Try the Sa Ta Na Ma finger press.
Practice pressing your fingers together in the following sequence. Thumb and forefinger, thumb and middle finger, thumb and ring fingers thumb and pinky. Repeat. Use medium pressure as you press the pads of the fingertips together. Do both hands simultaneously. Once you get the hang of the finger pressing, add these mind focusing sounds (follow the guided meditation video above!). Don’t worry about any meaning. It is a classic mantra, or word sequence to elicit calm and soothe the mind. Each sound goes with one press.
SA – thumb and forefinger
TA – thumb and middle
NA – thumb and ring
MA – thumb and pinky
Make sure you are breathing throughout. Find a rhythm. I suggest inhale for one full round and exhale for the next. No need to say the sounds out loud. In your own head is just as effective. If you’re on a crowded airplane, your seatmates will appreciate your silence. They may even get the benefits of your calmness.
Bonus tip for air travel: Keep hydrated and avoid excessively crunchy, dry or cold snack and drinks. And no alcohol! You might try sipping hot water throughout the flight to stay hydrated and warm. Lubricate sinuses with a drop or two of oil (sesame, olive or specially formulate nasya oil) in each nostril.
By Lisa Hedley