The Spirituality of Air Travel

A couple years ago, while I was still in clairvoyant training, I was preparing to take a quick trip to Spokane, Washington, to visit some friends for a long weekend. I asked a couple different teachers if they had any pointers for navigating the airport as a psychic.

I was secretly hoping I’d get some fancy tips on manifesting a first-class upgrade, sailing through security, or simply creating a vibe where I could have more fun with the experience.

Oh, the Places You'll Go

“Just don’t go into resistance,” nearly all of them told me.

Meaning, don’t get mad, don’t try to control what’s happening, don’t try to force your own agenda into the energies of the space, don’t get miffed if the TSA agents are rude or if the people in line around you are snotty, don’t go into a huff if the schedule gets out of whack. Just go with the flow, as it were. Maintain the integrity of your own energetic space without allowing it to get mixed up with whatever craziness may be occurring around you.

I was subtly disappointed by this commonsense advice, but—I still think about it every time I go to the airport now.

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Though an infrequent flyer overall, I’ve always had what I took to calling Good Airport Karma. Nothing fancy, no red carpet treatment—just smoothness and ease.

For a long stretch of time, whenever I would have an opportunity to travel by plane, everything went my way. On-time departures and sometimes even early arrivals. Never lost a piece of luggage. No chatty seatmates oversharing intimate details about their lives. No canceled flights because of bad weather and no getting bumped because of overbooking.

On Vacation Around the World

Granted, I traveled seldom enough that the odds were generally in my favor, especially considering most of my trips were taken during off-peak times of year.

But it felt like more than that. It was like, simply because I was confident that I could get in, get out, and get on with my life without any strain or struggle . . . I did.

The shadow version of this theory could be interpreted as things going smoothly for me because they had to. It was nonnegotiable. My inability to deal with anything more chaotic or difficult would have sent me into a spiral of failure and panic (picking up, in some sense, where my father’s inability to deal with out-of-left-field contingencies and mix-ups left off).  So, somehow, somewhere, a wise and benevolent force in the universe made sure that my plans came together like clockwork. Taking pity on me, giving me the easy way out.

But choosing to look at it from a more forgiving perspective, I see that it was probably more my pure joy in getting to go out and have an adventure that set the tone for so many years of happy experiences.

Elsa Chang, Space Unicorn and Space Cat!

Until recently. As I’ve energetically bought into the post-9/11 notion that air travel is utterly lacking in glamour, convenience, and ease, I’ve found myself starting to get a bit queasy about trips to the airport.

In the days and weeks before a trip, my thoughts about the imminent departure would start to get polluted by dread. Dread of the indignities of security screenings. Of increasing anxiety about my physical safety while in the air. Of the great, heaving irritation that comes with forced physical proximity to people whose conversations I didn’t want to be obliged to overhear or whose knees I didn’t want to feel through the seatback behind me.

And perhaps it’s no coincidence that the delays and hassles that I’ve encountered have increased accordingly. As the energy of adventure has been sucked out of my travels, I’ve allowed the culture’s prevailing narratives of suspicion, condescension, and breakdown to set the tone for the way I move through the airport.

Ugh

And that’s why, until I can truly reclaim my own magical ability fly with freedom and joie de vivre, I’ve really clung to this helpful notion of non-resistance. It gives me more room to be in the present moment, without mentally calculating how much time I’ve wasted in line, how long it’ll be until I arrive, or how annoying it’ll be to do it all over again on my way back home.

It also helps me interact with airport personnel and even my fellow travelers with more compassion; if I’m less focused on my own irritation and agenda, I can meet others from a place of friendliness and empathy, rather than viewing them all as jerks that I want to dissociate myself from.

767 Rainbow Takeoff, Adam Christensen

I still struggle more than I’d like to admit with doubting the rightness of my own thoughts, feelings, opinions, and worldview. If challenged (or even if I’m just imagining being challenged) in regard to something I’ve said or something I’ve expressed an interest in doing, my instant default is never to stick up for myself or defend my position—it’s to assume that I’m wrong and that the person doing the questioning is right.

The assumption becomes that they can see something about my stance that I can’t and are therefore correcting a mistake I’m making before it turns into some cataclysmic blunder. (You can see how this lead to an increasing hum of anxiety during my service at the Buddhist temple where correction was a constant fact of life that could never be questioned.)

And so that’s why the slow creep of pessimism into my inherent talent for travel has been so pernicious. Without consciously realizing it, I’ve traded my own effortless grace for someone else’s sense of struggle and tension, under the guise of accepting “well, that’s just the way things are.”

I’ve decided that it’s time for me to reassert the fact that I’m actually not wrong for having the ability to coast through travel situations that can be stressful for other people. It’s time for me to remember that on the other side of non-resistance is the ability to clear competing narratives out of my energy field in order to make space for my own truth to take me where I want to go.

I Guess I'm on My Way Home

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