Airline Travel

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I must admit this is kind of a rant if you will. In the last few months I have been traveling about every other week, so I have had the joy of flying with a particular airline that has its headquarters in Dallas Texas where I live. I won’t name the airline, but if you know anything about Dallas it could only be one of two airlines. Let me first explain my company does not purchase first class tickets for their employee’s so I fly coach exclusively.

Let’s start with the seats and their lack of size and comfort. I weigh about 160 pounds, so I would be an average sized man, and I barely fit into these seats. I’ve noticed some pretty big guys and gals on the plane and I can’t believe they can squeeze in these tiny seats. Recently I needed to pull out my laptop and get something done for work before I landed. I was in the middle seat, although I’m not sure that mattered all that much and let me tell you I could barely type and the screen on the laptop was vertical. There is not enough room to comfortably use a computer on these planes with the exception of flying first class. I try to get an aisle or window seat, but there have been a few times I was in the middle seat, which is maybe 5 times worse than the aisle or window seat. In any case these seats are way to small, with no consideration for the customer with the only objective to jam more people on the plane to make more money per flight.

Now what about flight times? I love it when the airline says we have a 2 hour flight, but what they don’t tell you is they intend to board the plane 30 to 45 minutes prior to take off and then they close the door having you nicely trapped on the plane. Now you are likely to sit around for 30 to 60 minutes on the runway before departing to your destination for all kinds of reasons usually related to their inability to understand logistics. You start to feel some sense of relief when you land, but wait there is more. During a recent trip we taxied around the runway for 25 minutes before getting to our gate and then it took them 10 minutes to hook up the walkway so you could actually leave the plane. Add another 45 minute Uber ride and then I am finally home. Here is the total time:

  1. Uber to the airport 45 minutes
  2. Get to the security check area and get through it 15 minutes
  3. Sit around the airport for 1 hour before boarding
  4. Board the plane 30 minutes early
  5. Sit on the runway waiting for weather or other planes to take off (say 45 minutes)
  6. Two hours for actually flying
  7. 30 minutes once you land before you actually get off the stupid plane
  8. 45 minute Uber ride home

Grand Total = 6 hours and 30 minutes

Let’s talk about the TSA, also known as the people that work at the security check you need to go through to get to your gate. If you are TSA precheck then life if much better for you, but if you are not you are treated like a potential terrorist. Take off your shoes, your belt, take your laptop out of your backpack, empty your pockets, and now you get to stand in a full body scanner with your arms raised like you are under arrest. To add insult to injury they do random body searches, which I think is more like every 10th person or so. Now if you don’t have anything on you because you are trying to hold up your pants and you just went through a full body scanner, why in the hell do you need to be patted down?

I won’t even go into cancelled flights, the airline employee’s, the smell of fuel in the cabin while you are sitting on the ground, the louder than hell cabin, other passengers babbling incessantly,  or how hard the fucking seats are.

Unfortunately a two hour flight can take you places over a 1,000 miles away, a lot further than you could comfortably drive in a day. So flying is a necessary evil for many of us and it is a shame the airlines and airports can’t make this a more tolerable experience.

Well I feel much better now. Sorry about the airline rant and if you work for an airline as a pilot or steward I’m sorry for you, as you are not to blame for what has become one of the worst ways to travel.

Namaste

 

 

 

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Be patient

I was reading a post on LinkedIn the other day and the person said that they meditate twice a day for an hour each time. To me this was a long time to sit as I am now sitting 20 – 25 minutes in the morning and this took some time to reach even this modest amount of time. When I first started meditating I was lucky to reach 10 minutes without completely losing focus and thinking about all of my issues, concerns, dislikes, and problems. I guess the message of this post is that you need to be patient and not compare yourself to those who sit for long periods of time. In my own practice it took me several months to work my way up to comfortably sitting for 20 minutes at a time. My advice to those starting out would be as follows:

  • Make your initial target 10 minutes, and use a timer.  I use a clock app on my phone and this works pretty good.
  • You might try using music to help you get into the right frame of mind. I use a Yoga station on Pandora which works for me.
  • At first you might try counting breaths do help drown out other thoughts. This technique is really forcing you mind to think of counting each breath, say from 1 to 10 and then start over.
  • Find the most quiet place in your dwelling and invest in a Zubuton and Zafu.  The Zubuton is a thick mat and the Zafu is a round or rectangular sitting cushion. (see below, about $65 at Amazon)
  • Having a Zubuton and Zafu make it more comfortable to sit, especially if you are sitting in half or full lotus.
  • You can meditate with your eyes open or eyes closed. If you are following the Zen Buddhism method you will keep your eyes open. I’ve done both, but prefer eyes open as I am less likely to feel sleepy.
  • Sit with your back as straight as possible.
  • Meditate in the morning if possible, as it is a great way to start your day.

Above all, give yourself a break, even 10 minutes of meditation per day is extremely helpful in centering yourself and becoming mindful. Like I mentioned it took me months to work up to 20 minutes a day, as there were lots of things going on in my mind and it can take time to stay seated for longer periods of time. What I can say is that being consistent helps, if at all possible meditate on a daily basis. The more you sit the easier it becomes.

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Zubuton and Zafu

Namaste