Whether you’re going on the plane, on a cruise or on a road trip and have been looking forward to it for weeks, the fear and anxiety can set in at anytime. We’ve compiled our most recommended techniques to bring calm to your mind and allow you to enjoy your trip to its fullest.
The benefits of meditation are widely documented and an increasing number of people are practicing it daily with so many different styles and techniques of meditation surfacing to suit each individual.
Meditation works to relax the mind and body by:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving blood circulation
- Lowering heart rate
- Reducing perspiration
- Slower respiratory rate
- Lowering anxiety
Involves focusing on a single point which could be the breath, a mantra, a visualisation or an external object. Each time you find your mind wandering simply refocus back to your object and rather than pursuing your thoughts you simply let them go.
Involves non-reactive monitoring of wandering thoughts as they cross the mind. The aim is to observe these thoughts in their character and the emotions they invoke without judgement. With practice you will notice patterns that arise and be aware of creating an inner balance.
Involves reciting a mantra to start and following the technique through its cadences to achieve a deeper sense of calm and understanding. This technique requires being taught by an instructor and as one of the most commonly practiced types of meditation there are a variety options out there.
It doesn’t end there. Try these out and see if they work for you but remember meditation is hard, and is not likely to work with an unaccepting mind.
The most commonly known and used technique and there are so many variations. My preferred method is to inhale for the count of 1 and exhale for the count of 2.
Then inhale for the count of 2 and exhale for the count of 3.
Inhale for the count of 3 and exhale for the count of 5. All the while breathing through the nose as this adds a natural resistance to the breathe.
With practice you can go for longer and increase the interval difference between the inhale and exhale, e.g. Breathe in for 2 and exhale for 7 providing you the benefits of the calming breath and the distraction of counting.
Inhale for the count of four and exhale for the count of four all through the nose. With more practice increase the counts to 6 or 8 and observe the calming effects.
Place on hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Inhale deeply through the nose letting the air fill to the bottom of your lungs and expand your diaphragm not your chest. Aim for 6 to 10 deep breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day for good practice.
Alternate Nostil Breathing
Said to unite the right and left sides of the brain this will provide an added challenge due to the coordination required. Place finger or thumb of over right nostril, inhale deeply, close off left nostril and exhale through the right nostril - and alternate!
And there are so many more! The longer you keep it up the more it will become second nature and you will be amazed with the benefits.
During moments when things feel out of control and the panic sets in we often focus on things in the past or what can happen in the future. Mindfulness aims to bring you into the present and focus on what is happening around you.
My favourite way to practice mindfulness is to identify 5 things that my 5 senses can detect in that moment in time and this is a helpful technique for those who aren’t quite proficient in Mindfulness Meditation. Here are mine:
Flower, Laptop, Water Bottle, Remote Control and Tissue Box.
Garlic, Tea, Exhaust Fumes and Perfume.
Keypad, Floor, Carpet, Clothing and Glasses.
Traffic, the clicks from typing, background music, ticking clock and whirr of the fan.
Water, water glass and inside of my mouth.
Next step - Mindfulness Meditation! It really does wonders.
The first instinct is to start counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… but try something more difficult. Count backwards from 10,000 or backwards from 100 in multiples of 4. Or try counting forwards with prime numbers only. The harder you make it for yourself the more effective it will be in pulling you out of your panicked states.
Head to Toe
I first experienced this technique in High School during a sports day which turned into a relaxation class due to the extreme Australian summer heat!
This involved either sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Then focusing the attention starting from the top the head and, with intent, relaxing each and every muscle. Work from the top of your head to your forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, ears and work all the way down to your toes and don’t forget even the smallest muscles.
Often I find before I’ve even reached my legs I’ve fallen asleep!
There is an app for everything these days and unsurprisingly there are a few very good ones out there for relaxation and calming the mind. We like to use Calm and HeadSpace and with daily practice this will become a seamless part of your life - for the better!
Take a Break
Removing yourself from your environment will provide perspective and a change in scenery to help break out of the immediate panic. If appropriate step away from packing, from the line or whatever is making you nervous and try some of the breathing exercises and calm your mind.
It will pass
While it’s hard to accept at the time, understand that this feeling will pass, as it has done every time before! Get to know yourself in how you may react in stressful situations, the ups and downs of each attack and you’ll know how best to manage your emotions when you start to feel nervous.
Of course, these techniques will not cure your anxiety, panic attacks or the challenges involved in travelling but they are both tools to help with the immediate symptoms and implement in your everyday life to bring yourself to a place of understanding, acceptance and calm. Know that you are not the only one and that its ok to feel sad, angry and nervous and recognise that by working through these feelings you are allowing yourself to experience the joys of travelling that you deserve deserve!