With the holiday season upon us, articles are showing up on the web with tips for fearful fliers, Though intended to be helpful, inadequate advise sets people up for failure.
Properly used, Mindfulness, Yoga, or Breathing Exercises put us more in touch with inner and outer reality. They do the opposite if misused. When misused as a distraction, they become a way to avoid awareness of both our inner and of the outer world. Attempting to be unaware of the flight is a set-up for trouble. When turbulence begins, distraction ends. No matter how relaxed or distracted a passenger may be, when the plane drops, the amygdala releases stress hormones. If unprepared to experience the feelings caused by these stress hormones, fear, panic, or even terror may result.
When stress hormones cause alarm, the anxious flier needs to reject the idea that these feelings mean danger. When turbulence begins, remember:
Before the flight, set up an automatic calming response to stress hormone release.
You can partly desensitize the amygdala to dropping. Go with a friend to some stairs. Step up on the first step together. Turn around and face the floor. On the first step, the floor is seven inches below you.
Put your arm around your friend's waist. Have them put theirs around your waist. On a count of three, jump together to the floor. You and your friend will be in mid-air for about a tenth of a second. During that time, you are in free-fall, a zero-G condition the amygdala ordinarily reacts to as falling. But, mutually embraced, the amygdala will "rethink" its reaction. Do this a few times the day of, or the day before, your flight so it is fresh. Repeat before your return flight.
Download the free app at http://www.fearofflying.com which has a g-force sensor that will monitor the turbulence and prove it is not in any way a threat to you or to the plane.
If more help is needed, which often is the case if traumatized by a past flight, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org