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Alan Diaz, Associated Press

Julia Cameron

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Author shares how she conquered fear of flying

  • Article by: EMILY BRENNAN
  • New York Times
  • April 5, 2013 - 9:34 AM

When Julia Cameron, the author of the popular spiritual guide to developing your creativity, “The Artist’s Way,” moved to Santa Fe, N.M., a few years ago, she found herself flying once a month to teach writing classes and workshops in New York. The frequency of the trips made her long-standing fear of flying unbearable.

But she overcame her fear with the strategies she reveals in her new book, “Safe Journey: Prayers and Comfort for Frightened Fliers and Other Anxious Souls,” to be published this month.

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Cameron:

 

Q: What’s your first piece of advice to anxious fliers?

A: Get yourself a journal and write down your fears. The whole process of flying is a process of surrendering control. You’re not flying the plane, the pilot is. When I’m frightened, I do a little dialoguing in my journal. It might say L.J., for Little Julie: “I’m scared!” Then I listen, and I hear: “You will be fine. You’re safe. You’re secure. The crew is skilled. The pilot is sober.”

 

Q: Why do you think it helps to write down your fears?

A: You almost become your own parent, comforting the terrified childlike part of yourself. Prayers can also create a sense of calm. If you think the pilot is in charge, then maybe there’s something larger than the pilot.

 

Q: What else do you take on board to help with anxiety?

A: Comforting distractions like Kindles, video games, crossword puzzles, trashy reading. I never read tabloids except when I fly. There’s something vastly comforting about worrying about celebrities’ cellulite.

 

Q: Is there anything about the process of packing that can help?

A: Given that you’re dealing with the fear of a lack of control, packing is one thing that you can control. Do it about two days ahead of time.

 

Q: How do you stay relaxed while on vacation, knowing that you’ll have to contend with the flight back home?

A: Create a sense of before, during and after. I call my daughter from the airport, and I say I’m in the gate waiting to board. When I land, I call my daughter again and I say I made it. Just hearing her dear, familiar voice is a tremendous comfort.

When you travel, set up a little altar, a few totems of things that are comforting and speak of home. I bring a picture of my grandchild, a card from my daughter, a candle, a picture of my dog and a pine cone. Pine cones always make me realize the mystery of life. I still don’t understand exactly how they work, but I love them.

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