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Airline Tests Midair Meditation to Calm Nervous Travelers

Is in-flight mindfulness the right tool to soothe the fear of flying?

image via (cc) flickr user two8five

I feel sorry for anyone stuck sitting next to me on a flight (usually my wife). I am not, in general, particularly great on airplanes. Something about the combined indignities of airport security (stand in line, take your shoes off, get a pat down, put your shoes on, stand in another line) coupled with my body’s atavistic rejection of being 30,000 feet above ground turns me into a white-knuckled wreck the moment my plane hits the slightest hint of choppy air. I know airplanes are safe. I know the anxiety is entirely in my head. But try as I might, I simply can’t relax on airplanes.

Thankfully, my days of mid-air panic attacks may be coming to an end.

British Airways, reports PSFK, has begun testing a triptych of mindfulness meditation videos to be watched by nervous passengers, in the hopes of calming their frazzled flying nerves. The videos, made in partnership with The Mindfulness Institute, apply meditative techniques to the uniquely nerve-wracking experience of air travel by incorporating the feelings of flying into the mindfulness exercises.

Each video is just a few minutes long, and features Mindfulness Institute founder Mark Coleman leading a series of guided meditations that help passengers center themselves and “set a positive tone for the rest of [their] trip.” According to PSFK, the videos will be available to travelers via the in-flight entertainment systems found on British Airways’ planes.

There’s one for boarding:


And preparing to land:

The videos are part of British Airways’ ongoing efforts to calm the nerves of freaked out fliers. The airline also offers tips for healthy eating, drinking, and relaxation exercises to ease the experience of air travel. There’s even a dedicated course, led by airline crew along with a clinical psychologist, to help travelers overcome the most extreme cases of flying phobia.

Of course, there may be only so much “centering” a person can do before the realities of air travel burst their serene bubble. What’s more, the very practice of mindfulness may contain within it unexpected psychological effects. Still, for airline passengers, such as myself, who have a hard time calming their anxieties the moment they break the bonds of gravity, a little guided meditation (and maybe an in-flight drink drink or two) could make a world of difference.

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