I've had to admit the kind of spiritual challenge (is there any challenge that isn't a spiritual one?) that flying in airplanes has become since as I child I was in a plane that was struck by lightening. Since then every jolt, bounce and heave of the jet screams to my mind that I'm about to die, that there is absolutely no support under me, not a shred of protection. I still fly and cope by deliberately and repeatedly surrendering over and over again against the fury of the part of me that screams "NO" to every change in atmospheric density, in orientation towards gravity, in mechanical vibration or sound, even in the taste of the air in the cabin or the kind of gravel in the pilot's voice.
I've become good at surrendering in order to reestablish equilibrium in my heart rate, my pulse, my blood pressure. Meditation has helped tremendously as an intervention in those moments when I'm feeling like I really can't endure this overwhelming sense of having no support whatsoever. The free fall. I remember once dreaming about being in a circle of people about to reincarnate, we stood like parachuters in a circle ready to launch out of a plane. A man said "Let us say a blessing and forget, again."
The last time I flew I was vaguely aware that it would be ok. The sense of ok-ness had an abstract shape, like a pale putty-colored semisolid ribbon of benevolent airplane essence. After several boughts of panic-striken surrender interventions, I took out the inflight magazine and found the sudoku puzzles. I felt so dumb, I had no idea what to do. But something overcame me and I couldn't do anything but figure for mystery numbers of the grid for the next two and a half hours. I had no sense of the motions of the plane, the sounds, the terrifying destabilizations in air pressure. The mysteries and secrets of the numerical grid allowed me to completely dissociate from the triggers of the flight.
I've been feeling dizzy since the morning after that flight two and a half weeks now - as if by the act of that extreme dissociation from continual emotional adjustments to extraordinary gravitation effects I've blown some kind of subtle circuit. And sudoku has strangely felt like the most luxurious indulgence.