I realized this week that if you only read the few posts I made in Marin and since I got home (starting here), it sounds as if I had a bad vacation. In fact, I had a lovely time and several things contributed. I’ve struggled to write this as all one post and finally decided it will instead consist of two or more parts.
This first piece fits the Journey2Peace series and I think also Ra’s latest B4Peace challenge (scroll way down to reach challenge), which, in short is to write about a habit which doesn’t cultivate peace and what you do to step aside and work on peace instead.
I’ve had travel anxiety since childhood. Mostly about flying. My mother and I used to fly to Kentucky for a longer summer visit than my father could manage and as soon as I was old enough to hear about a plane crash, I was afraid. My parents both tended toward stress and anxiety around travel, so any form of travel tended to be permeated with tension and unease.
In recent years, as air travel has become an increasingly troublesome process, from the long distances to airports to the need to arrive so early to the tedious and often annoying security process… For me travel has become so fraught with difficulty and anxiety that I often question whether I really want to do it any more.
When I noticed this constant anxiety several years back, I started creating and repeating affirmations ahead of time along the lines of “whenever I travel my journey goes smoothly and easily.” Oddly, it didn’t stop me from being anxious, but it DID quite clearly create much smoother sailing through airports and plane rides, etc.
As I prepared for the house sit in Marin from which I’ve just returned, I felt more anxious than usual. As I considered this, I added to my list of “travel dislikes” that it seemed to me airline and airport personnel have become increasingly rude and unfriendly and part of what I dread is being snapped at all day long. So I created another affirmation or two about kind and helpful people on my journeys.
I set off for the airport more anxious than usual– literally shaking from head to toe — but experienced an easy journey. Including that all the security people here in Lexington — usually a cranky bunch who work hard at making it worse to get through security here than most airports I ever go through) — were smiling and lovely (possibly taken over by happy face aliens???).
Even the one who insisted on squeezing my clipped-back hair was quite gentle and apologetic. [Someday I want someone to tell me what you could possibly hide in your hair or a silk neck scarf that couldn’t be picked up by those machines you pass through that can read your underwear???]
In spite of affirmations the return trip didn’t go so well and I spent an unscheduled night in the Chicago area and wound up switched to another airline. Unlike American, which I usually fly, United had no one around to help me with the boarding pass phase of things and I bumbled my way through without really knowing what I was doing.
They didn’t have security streamlined as well as most of my recent flights, so it took nearly 40 minutes in line just to get up to the person who looks at your boarding pass and passport. Who informed me the pile of print-out stuff I handed her didn’t include a boarding pass.
When I stammered, “do you mean I have to go back out and go through this line again?”, another security person stepped up and said, “no, I’ll take you.” She walked me back to the front, got the pass, and walked me back to the head of the line, chatting amiably all the way. Bless her kindly heart!
Even the guy in Lexington who made me come back to the airport to pick up my own delayed luggage was quite friendly.
Normally all these issues, from security through cancelled flights and bags not delivered would have left me foaming at the mouth, possibly stomping around, and locked in melodrama. Years of meditation, emotional release work and spiritual practices have calmed that down.
And for once, what I remember the most is the good stuff. The acts of kindness outweigh the problems in my memory of my journey.
And I have to say, even though my affirmations don’t seem — so far — to have ended the anxiety I feel, they have changed so much about the experience of travel; every trip has seemed to flow far more smoothly than my usual unhappy experiences. My reactions to it all have changed so greatly as well, I’m beginning to “expect” good stuff to happen.
I think the practices, releasing and affirmations can all shift your experience of anything you tend to be anxious about, so I recommend working on both the exercises that calm your “self” in general and also on writing affirmations about smooth sailing in circumstances about which you worry.