Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Travel if you're a chicken

All month we've been talking about traveling and how it enriches us as writers. Well...I'm not afraid of much, but I do have a fear of flying. So how do I get to all these hot spots I've written about?

Hypnosis. Yup. That's my secret.

Several years ago I took classes to be a hypnotherapist and was certified in hypnotherapy with extra certifications in smoking cessation, weight loss, and metaphysical applications (past life regressions, etc.)

It wasn't until learning more about how hypnosis works that I realized I could hypnotise myself. In fact, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Ever driven way past your exit on the highway? You were hypnotised. Why didn't you crash? Hypnosis isn't sleep. You're awake but your subconscious takes over for a little while. You didn't have a hypnotherapist in the car with you, did you? Probably not...

So here's what you do if you need a little help getting on the plane or taking off or landing. Before you go on your trip, find a relaxing spot where you can practice this. If you want, play some soft music in the background. Preferably something soothing and repetative without words. You're going to need to concentrate on your own words. New Agey music is good. If you like drums, how about some Native American drumming? Nature sounds? Even white noise is fine.

Be sure nothing interrupts your concentration. Wait until the kids and pets are out of the house. Tell your significant other not to interrupt you for 20 minutes.

Now, get comfortable. Take several deep breaths. All the way in and all the way out.
Then breathe normally, but slowly, as you would if you were sleeping. If you do fall asleep during this process, it's okay. Your subconscious will take over.

Think of some comforting words you can repeat to yourself. Affirmations are perfect. they're worded in the positive and that's what you want--a comforting, positive thought. Something like, "I release all my fears and embrace my stregnth and security." For lots more, Google "Positive affirmations."

Okay, now you have your music, your comfortable position and your words. The only other thing you need is your special place. Do you have a favorite vacation spot? A place outside where you like to sit and take in the view? A favorite hiking trail perhaps? Picture yourself in a special place in as acute detail as you can. See the dew on the leaves. Feel the sun warming the top of your head and your shoulders. Are you barefoot in your special place or wearing sneakers? Feel the sand under your feet or the pine needles cushioning your footsteps. Smell the air around you. Are you enjoying the sea air or the forest?

Okay...Now you're comfortable and in your special place with all your senses as if you're really there. Take those three deep cleansing breaths and tell yourself, "Relax, relax, relax..." Let your body go limp as you count down from 10 to 1, silently. As soon as you feel very relaxed and are enjoying being in your special place, say your positive affirmation over and over in your mind. Repeat this for as long as you feel good doing so. If something intereferes with your relaxed state, it's better to come out of hypnosis (gently) and deal with it. You can resume hypnosis later. Simply repeat what you did before. As you do this more and more, it'll take less time to relax and feel even more wonderful when you come out of it.

When you're ready to come back to reality (yes, you must at some point) silently count back up from 1 to 10 and let your eyes drift open. Notice how much clearer you feel. You'll probably even notice your vision is better and colors are brighter. In only a few minutes, you had the benefit of a long nap without the hours involved.

So how does this translate to travel? You might have noticed, there's nothing involved in doing this except your mind and a place to sit. When you get on the plane, simply get comfortable in your seat, close your eyes, and go to your special place. Take your deep breaths (you can be a bit more subtle in public) and let yourself relax completely. Count down to your most relaxed state and repeat your mantra or affirmation. I keep it up until the plane is safely in the air. Then I can count myself back up, let my eyes drift open and enjoy the view. The same goes for landing.

If at any point turbulence becomes a problem, I go back to my special place and relax again. The turbulence will pass. On my way to India there was turbulence much of the way. I went into self-hynpsos several times and I was fine. I'm not even afraid to make the 18 hour trip again sometime.

I hope you find that as helpful as I have.


  1. Very interesting post! I don't mind flying, but I've never been on a plane for longer than maybe four hours. :)

    Now, in April, hubby-man is taking me to Hawaii and I don't know how I'll react to being over water. Time and a fruity umbrella drink will tell! lol

    You're description reminded me of French Kiss where Meg Ryans' character has her mantra to sing while on the plane. Such a fun movie! Thanks for sharing such awesome tips. :)

  2. Interesting post, Ash. I too am a certified hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner. I suspect that the process of becoming engrossed in a story is functionally identical to hypnosis, and fiction writers are drawing on some of the same skills as hypnotherapists.

    I've never used hypnosis to manage flying because flying doesn't scare me. I'm more afraid I will die of boredom on a long flight than that the plane will crash.

    But now that I think about it, how I handle flying is by buckling the seatbelt, noting the position of the exits, and making the whole thing disappear from my experience--by diving into a book. It comes down to the same thing, doesn't it?

  3. Right you are, MM! I didn't think of it like that, but there ya go! A good book to "take you away from it all."


  4. I loved reading this, Ash. I'm sure you've had some very intersting things happen because of all you've learned. But I'm a whole lot more frighten to self hypnotize myself than I am to get on that airplane!

  5. LOL Amelia!

    There's a common misconception that a person under hypnosis is helpless. That's just not the case, especially when it's all you.

    You can even think of it as meditation or deep relaxation. You wouldn't be unaware.


  6. Great post, Ash! :) I get so absorbed in a story, whether reading or writing them, that it really is like being hypnotized! :)

  7. Great post! Thanks for the suggestions. Thanks to my parents, I've done quite a bit of traveling in my youth. However, I developed a fear of flying during a particularly bumpy flight in bad weather coming home from Amsterdam. It got much worse after 9/11. I fly when I have to, and I'm always okay. But the anxiety leading up to the trip is horrible. Next time (maybe for RWA national if I get up the nerve) I'll try some self-hypnosis.

  8. Interesting. Leaves me wondering, did I hypnotize myself through childbirth?

  9. Cool~ post, Ash! Thanks for the hypnosis tips!

  10. You described the exact same process that I use! I only get nervous on take-offs for some reason, so I "go to my happy place" and repeat a mantra until we level out. It really does work!

  11. Great post, Ash! Thanks so much for sharing. :}

  12. I need to tell my CP this. She hates to fly - which is why we're driving from Philly to Nashville - 13 hours - for National.

    And back home again.

  13. This is some seriously interesting stuff. I just went to a presentation today on the benefits of mindful meditation, which has some similarities. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. I'm going to have to find my happy place!!

  14. Thanks, Ash. I'm running behind on the blog posts, but I'm bookmarking this one and using it! I'm not afraid of flying, but this sounds like something I could use when I "stress out" -- which is often!