I love to travel, and I know this is an anomaly for most. For me, I find it is grounding and peaceful (oddly enough), when flying 30,000 miles up in the air, at speeds I’d rather not think about. The confined space within the airplane calms my nervous system and anxious mind. Why? Because I have to accept I am in my seat for the next few hours and there are very few distractions or options that can occupy my time.
According to Ayurveda, traveling especially at high altitude and high speeds should be incredibly destabilizing for vata dosha, the principle of air and movement. And hence, my feeling of ease and stability up in the air defies most logical thinking within Ayurveda. How is this so, I asked myself?
I queried the answer by applying the famous Ayurvedic axiom: “Like increases like and Opposite heals.” The movement of travel and the airplane are counter-posed by the stability of simply sitting and being. If I can harness this understanding and employ basic Ayurvedic practices while flying then I should be able to counter most of the negative side effects of riding on an airplane and travel in general.
I have a wonderful routine that I follow when preparing for all flights, and even more so for international travel, that allows me to glide into my seat and enjoy the ride. The practices outlined below have proven to be essential and supportive to most of my days but especially when I travel. The most important piece to remember is that at least one—if not all—of the following practices will be favorable for travel (and life).
- Oil the body as much as possible close to departure. Either the night before or the morning of the flight, generously rub warm sesame oil (or other herbal oils) on your body. Half cup to one cup recommended.
- Pack an inflight amenities kit that includes: rose or lavender spray bottle, sesame oil, socks, and ginger tincture.
- Keep the face and body hydrated and calm with either lavender or rose spray. Spray right before take off, mid-flight, and before landing.
- Lubricate to offset the cold, rough, stale qualities of airplane atmosphere. Rub the sesame oil inside the nose, around the eyes, lips, ears, and feet if you like. The smooth, heavy, slow qualities will counter the qualities of air travel.
- Stay warm in the plane with socks, scarf, jacket etc. Layering is best, as you can never predict whether it will be hot or cold on the plane.
- Support agni (your digestive fire) and mind with ginger. Ginger liquid extract is easy to add to room temperature or warm water while in flight. It supports circulation, the immune system, and digestion, and calms occasional nausea.
- Check your bags! Skip the aggravation of opening, closing, lifting, pulling, and carrying excess weight. It is undue stress that you don’t need while moving through the TSA lines, gates, and arrival destination. Keep it simple, check your bag and minimize the stress of schlepping.
- Meditate during take off and landing. Close you eyes and feel yourself traveling through space. Breathe and feel steady, calm, and grounded in your breath.
- Connect to the earth upon landing! You can walk on bare feet, clap two rocks together near your ears to hear the sound of earth, or just spend time in nature. Connect to your new space by settling into your new surrounding, no matter how temporary. Love your new space.
- Do NOT get caught up about time zones and time change. Time is relative. Time is space organized into units. Don’t be deluded. Leave your past time zone behind and focus on the present. Glide right into the rhythm of the landing site and follow the energy accordingly. Plan ahead and know what time you are landing. Therefore if you land at night, be ready to go to sleep and if you land during the day, be ready for activity.
I’ve traveled extensively the past 12 years and slowly found how not to be destabilized by the travel, but rather how to conquer and harness the adventure before me. Whether your travel is for work or pleasure, enjoy the trip and allow the journey to nourish you from beginning to end.