6 Ways to Practise Mindfulness & Stay Relaxed on Your Flight


Amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport and worries about the flight, practicing mindfulness can offer you a small oasis of calm and serenity if you are one of those who frets before traveling by plane. Here are some simple ways to cultivate mindfulness during the flight to feel more relaxed:

Connection with Breathing

This is a classic because it works. Start by focussing on your breathing. Sit comfortably in your seat and focus your attention on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your nostrils and lungs. Feel your chest rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.

Observation of the Senses

Notice the sounds around you, from the hum of the engine to the hum of conversation. Feel the softness of the seat beneath you and the freshness of the air on your skin. Observe the colors and shapes around you with curiosity. Then, internally name five things that you can see, four that you can smell, three that you can touch, two that you can hear, and one that you can taste.

Recognition of Thoughts with Detachment

As you immerse yourself in the present moment, practise accepting what is. Acknowledge any thoughts or emotions that arise, but do not hold on to them judgmentally. Allow them to pass like clouds in the sky, without trying to control or suppress them. Just watch them come and go.

Focus on the Flight Experience

Although this seems most counterintuitive if you´re nervous about flying, directing your attention to the flight experience itself will give your brain a chance to see that it is a completely safe situation. Notice how the plane feels in the air, how it moves smoothly with the wind currents. Feel the feeling of freedom and lightness that comes from being in the air.

The Practice of Gratitude

Cultivate a sense of thankfulness for the fact that you are able to fly. You appreciate the opportunity to explore new places or reach destinations quickly when years ago this same trip would take days, sometimes weeks. Be grateful for the support and dedication of the pilots and flight staff who make your trip possible.

Combination of Relaxation Exercises

Combine mindfulness with relaxation exercises to further deepen your state of calm. For example, you can combine mindfulness with guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation techniques. You have the step by step of many of these strategies in other posts that I´ve written for this blog.

As you become more skilled at mindfulness, you´ll find that you can face each flight with more calm and serenity and remember that any limiting experiences can be successfully addressed in therapy.

Happy – and fearless – flying!

David Lanzas is a psychologist specialising in anxiety and trauma, and founder of the Lanzas Institute.

Photo: SDI Productions