In-flight guided meditation

meditation

I always prefer to take night flights, but when a day flight is unavoidable, killing 12h on a plane can get a little challenging. The in-flight entertainment system could be your salvation, but if you fly a lot you will exhaust the options soon. What to do then?! Keep calm and meditate.

If you think about it, being alone on a plane for a long period of time is a bit like a spiritual retreat. A chance for some introspection, to get some “me” time and put your head in order. There’s no internet, nowhere to go, not much to look at, no interruptions, you have nowhere to go but inwards. What does it sound like? YES, meditation.

If you are afraid of flying or just stressed by the whole thing, this meditation can help you get in good spirits for your long flight. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed even if you are a frequent flyer. The packing frenzy, the traffic, the check-in queues, that moment when you don’t know if you will get away with those 10 extra kgs in your luggage… Then security scans, shoes off, shoes on, immigration, customs, waiting, boarding, placing your luggage in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you, fasten your seat-belt and switch off all electronic devices…

You made it, now it’s time for YOU to SWITCH OFF

In-flight meditation

Settle in your seat. Make sure you are not cold. Place a pillow or blanket on your lower back and sit up straight, but relaxed. Plant both feet firmly on the floor, rest your hands on your thighs and gently take a few long, deep breaths. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth with a releasing sigh. Keep your eyes softly opened and gazing slightly downwards, to the pocket with magazines in front of you. This elongates the neck and facilitates relaxing the muscles. With each exhale try to remove the tension of the whole of your body. Do this 5 times at least.

Now start to breathe only through the nose. Observe your breath and resist the temptation to control it. You are just a witness of that phenomenon that happens without you even thinking it  Close your eyes gently and use each breath to scan your body from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. Each breath goes through that specific area like a healing wave and releases any accumulated tension. Let the tension leave with the exhale.

Relax your forehead, the muscles around your eyes. Feel the cool air entering the body through your nosetrils and notice how the air feels warmer when it leaves. Relax the sides of your mouth. Let it open slightly if that’s it’s most relaxed position for you. Unclench your jaw and your teeth. Relax the back your neck,  the front of your neck, your throat and collar bone.

Stop a little longer on your shoulders, for four to five breaths. We hold a lot of tension there. Once you are ready and at your own pace, move your awareness down to the chest. Notice the air first fills some areas of your lungs and then others. Do not inflate your chest. Remember you are just an spectator. Your breath is breathing you, you are not in control. Your whole body is breathing and it happens without your intervention. Leave the belly soft, letting it inflate and deflate naturally with each breath. Make it stick out softly, nobody is looking, nobody cares. You are alone in your own air bubble floating over oceans and continents. You don’t hear the noises around you anymore. It’s just you and your breath.

Go down to the belly. Feel it rise and fall with each breath. Stay here if you wish. Feel your arms breathing too. From the shoulder, the elbow, forearm, top of the hand, back of the hand, fingers. The whole of the arm. Do the same with your legs. The back of the thighs, the front of the thighs, the calves, the shins, ankles, top of the feet, toes. Feel the soles of the feet in contact with the ground. Feel the vibration, your whole body is breathing. Keep our whole body in awareness. With each breath feel the air run through you as if you where a sponge. From the top of the head to the soles of the feet. Stay here as long as you wish.

Congratulations! Just by reading this you have already felt the bliss of meditation. You have probably scanned your body  with each line and unconsciously followed the instructions. You might feel sleepy, then sleep. You might feel calm and content, or energized. There’s no magic formula. You are feeling whatever it is that needs to be felt right now in your body.

When you reduce external stimulus the senses stop bothering the mind and it goes quiet. I have my brightest ideas in those moments. Starting the flight with this simple meditation had me writing posts for the last 8h. I think I’m over India at the moment which is very appropriate! I feel calm and inspired, my head bubbling with ideas.

It doesn’t always go this way though, and there’s nothing wrong with you if that’s the case. Keep trying if you are keen. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Calm.com has some nice free audio meditations you can download to your phone before a flight. If your inner Buddha has gone out fishing and your inner jumpy monkey is in charge, check out 10 things to do to entertain yourself on a long flight. Coming soon.

Until then, namaste, and safe travels!

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5 really useful tips to survive long flights

fly1.jpg

 

If there’s one thing in life I have lot’s of experience with, that is flying long haul. I sometimes feel like the woman version of Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. OCD basically. I have perfected the art of passing security scans, lifting cabin luggage to the overhead compartments, maximizing your luggage allowance and providing myself with as much comfort as the economy class allows.

People ask me a lot how do I survive, so here’s my list of essential tips and equipment you should carry with you to survive on a long flight.

1- MOISTURIZE

This is THE most important thing I learnt through the years. The long exposure to the dry air of the cabin has devastating effects on my hair and skin. My eyes, my nose, my throat, even my nails suffer badly. The lack of humidity also also contributes to other discomforts one can live without.

  • Moisturize from the outside. Carry at least lip balm, and face lotion. Even my boyfriend The Troglodyte does! I also carry body lotion, face mist, nose spray, hand lotion and Strepsils for the throat. Get travel sizes, samples or just pour your own into small containers like these ones I buy in Muji.  Avoid wearing make up and before boarding apply a thick layer of night cream on your face (I pick from high end Duty Free testers) When you start feeling the tightness, go on and apply from your stock generously.
Muji Travel Bottles & PP Cases - Image from getthegloss.com

Muji Travel Bottles & PP Cases – Image from getthegloss.com

  • Moisturize from the inside. Drinking lots of water helps the skin issue and prevents the other two big ‘dementors’ of flying: water retention and constipation. I carry my own small water bottle that I refill as often as possible because they never serve enough water on flights. Yes, you read properly, you can actually pass a water bottle through security as long as it’s empty. Avoid ice water, and opt for an apple juice instead of coffee or alcohol, they dry you up even more!

If you don’t want to end up like a raisin add these to your bag and you will not regret it.

2 – WEAR COMPRESSION LEGGINGS

They should give a pack of these to every person walking into the plane, seriosyly. Without going too deep into the science, flying is not very good for your blood circulation. Women tend to be particularly sensitive to this. It used to take me days to get rid of the water retention, the discomfort and swelling of the knees, ankles and even wrists and fingers. Now I don’t even get it. I started using Dr Scholl’s compression leggings, but later I bought some exercise leggings and discovered they are so much more comfortable because they have softer parts on the knees. I have the A400 model from Skins but they get a little tight on the belly when you sit down for too long, so I’m considering the Under Armour Woman’s Fly By Legging. They have a big waist similar to yoga pants. I wear the compression leggings under comfy cotton harem pants to stay stylish.

from LuLuBu via Pinterest

Harem Pants from LuLuBu via Pinterest

3- STAY WARM

A big scarf that doubles as a shawl and a blanket can save your life. Sometimes I even wear it over my head since we lose a lot of heat from there. This pink one from Shanghai Tang is a perfect blend of silk and cashmere that’s soft, warm and light. I have a very similar one from a previous collection.

Try to keep your lower back, neck and feet covered.  A pair of thermal socks can also help if you tend to get cold feet. I like Heattech from Uniqlo and I wear them under the ones they usually give you on the flights. They are thin but warm. When it gets really really cold and two pairs of socks plus blanket don’t do the job, the ultimate trick is to put your wrapped feet inside the plastic bag of the blanket. I think the idea came to me in a moment of absolute desperation and this trick has saved me several times from frostbite!

W Peony Pop Silk Cashmere Jacquard Shawl from Shanghai Tang

W Peony Pop Silk Cashmere Jacquard Shawl from Shanghai Tang

4- CARRY YOUR OWN SNACKS

A cereal bar, a piece of fruit or something else to eat between meals. They tend to serve one meal right after take off, and one before landing. In the 7-10 hours in between you are by yourself. There’s only light snacks and it’s like war, the good stuff tends to run out quickly. You don’t want to be cold , tired, bored and hungry on top of that so add that to your bag.

5- ENTERTAINMENT

Carry enough things to keep you busy in case the movie selection is is not good, and you have a long day flight without any chance of having a long sleep. Use the time to read, meditate and enjoy the smartphone disconnection. If you are hyperactive, coming up soon, you will have my full guide of ‘in flight entertainment tips for long day flights’ for people that have ants in their pants

Until then, safe journeys!