A Lesson in Being Present

Nothing will test your patience quite like flying. And in my case, traveling for business in general. I love the idea of traveling, but I'm a very anxious person. Navigating layovers, delayed flights, airport shuttles to hotels, etc. is exhausting and leaves my nerves feeling fried. Follow that up with a business dinner, and I'm almost guaranteed to get overwhelmed.

Everything went smoothly Monday, but I still found myself anxiously awaiting the moment I got to head back home. It didn't help that I realized I had forgotten my laptop charger and notepad. I couldn't follow the yoga video I had planned to use, couldn't get ahead on a project I had on my mind and felt unprepared for the meetings that week. Basically I felt even less in control.

Realizing that I spend so much of my focus during business trips on the moment I get to leave was eye opening. I've never been to Tampa before, so why was I letting my anxiety ruin it? I could think of other trips where I had done the same thing.

Monday night I tossed and turned almost all night. I had a bad case of RLS and/or severe anxiety over nothing in particular. Running on 2.5 hours of sleep, I managed to make it through a day of meetings on Tuesday. (This is partly due to fueling my body with green juice and a big spinach salad at lunch.) After the meetings I had a little time before dinner, so I knew I had to do something to refocus and feel centered.

I decided to give meditation a try.

You have to understand, this isn't something I'm accustomed to doing. I always mean to meditate, but never quite get there. I was so overwhelmed + exhausted I felt like I had no other choice, though. I closed my eyes, sitting cross legged with palms up. I focused on breathing deeply and repeated a few positive affirmations or mantras in my head. After about 10 minutes, I could feel my body starting to lighten. The anxiety and stress was melting away.

I grounded myself by thinking about everything I had to be grateful for in that moment and letting go of all the things I couldn't control.

Fast forward to Wednesday evening- I had already been at the airport for 3 hours and my laptop battery was running out. My flight was delayed for a third time and everyone around me was starting to get angry. I overheard phone conversations with people saying the delays were ridiculous- they'd been traveling since that morning from Seattle, blah blah blah.

I was irritated too. My body hurt from traveling only a few days before, my mind was fried from meetings + very little sleep, and I was anxious being surrounded by so many people. I sent a text to my fiance complaining about the flight, and immediately after hitting send I realized how ridiculous I was being. I was acting so incredibly ungrateful, again. It's amazing that we're able to fly across the country in a few hours. It's a blessing that the airline was being cautious because of weather.

So, like any normal person, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and tried to meditate in the airport. I needed to clear my head, center myself and be present. The present situation wasn't the best, but so what? In a way, I was secretly thankful for the break. I couldn't do any work, and could read my book without feeling guilty.

We rush around so much and get upset when our plans get interrupted. "I don't have time for this!" But what if we could be more flexible? What if we could just be? Just exist. Be thankful.

To me, being present is about realizing what you can control and what you can't. It's about appreciating the wonders of life in this moment. Taking in your surroundings and being aware of yourself.