How Do I Overcome My Fear of Flying?

Posted on by Sen.

This was a query that came in from one of the readers, and I thought I would post the reply as blog post so that it can be insightful to other readers who might be dealing with certain “Phobias”.

Where does fear originate?

It’s important to realize a very simple truth that fear “originates” in the brain. Fear does not originate in the lungs, liver, heart or tonsils, but in the “brain” of a human body. The brain is just an organ in the human body just like the other organs, and it has various functions like memory, nerve co-ordination, temperature regulation, survival thinking (protect body against threats through fight/flight response), subconscious mechanical functions (which allows you drive a car subconsciously) etc

So one of the aspects of the brain is to sense danger or threat to survival. This aspect has a useful function in that it responds to physical threat to survival, but it also has a “dysfunctional” aspect when it makes up stories or projects fear into an imaginary situation. This aspect of the brain is responsible for all the phobias/fears that a human comes up with. Remember that the brain can interpret a situation as “threat”, without there being any real threat in the moment. For example, you may be lying in your bed comfortably and you can still be in fear if your brain is thinking about some future threat or making up fearful stories.

Psychological fear makes up 99% of your fear

What’s important is that we be free of psychological fears, so that we can live a life aligned with freedom and joy. It’s fine for the brain to have certain survival fear to protect the body against physical threats through fight/flight response, but it’s a huge problem to have the brain fearing situations where there are no immediately physical threats. We face physical threats very rarely these days, because we are not living in jungles, where a wild animal would jump on us unsuspectingly (of course there are rash drivers who seem to be doing that job now) – but you get the point that physical danger makes up only 1% of your day, but psychological fears could make up 99% of your day. Psychological fears are completely unnecessary and are counterproductive to your well-being.

You need to use the Aeroplane to travel, so it’s a necessity. It’s true that flights have crashed before, and hence the brain is afraid of such a situation re-occuring. So you have two options – you either stop flying or you let go of the fear of flying. Since flying is a necessity, the only option is to let go of the fear of flying and allow the experience to be
joyful. So the questions arises – how to let go of the fear of flying when it’s so apparently present in the brain. This is where it’s important to realize that you are not the brain, that the brain is an organ and you are the consciousness that can observe this organ’s movement without identifying with it. This is your freedom – you don’t have to identify with the brain. You have the choice to stay detached of the brain’s movement.

Detached awareness is start of freedom

As long as you realize that the brain is not who you are, but is just an organ performing certain functions, you will start becoming free of being a prisoner to the brain’s pull. The next time you sit in a flight, just stay aware of how your brain is reacting to the situation,
without getting “identified” with its voice. You will see that you are able to observe the brain, and its reactions, but you are also present as this “detached” awareness that is not taken in by the brain’s pull. As you sit as the detached awareness (I also call it relaxed awareness), you will see that the brain does not have the power to pull you in, and it
slowly wanes away in momentum. As the brain movement slows down, its noise will start ebbing away and it won’t have the power to overwhelm you (the way it does now).

Your present problem is that the brain has so much momentum that its “overwhelming” you with its fears. It’s your responsibility to reduce the momentum of your brain by “detaching” yourself from identifying with it. It’s your attention to the brain that fuels its momentum. As you stay in the state of “relaxed awareness” (no identification with the brain’s movement), you start depriving the brain of attention and this starts slowing down the momentum of its thinking. As the thoughts slow down, you start having access to “gaps” in your thinking and these gaps allow joy to flow in. The more gaps you have in your thinking, the more joyful you feel. These “gaps” also allow creative solutions to emerge, and a wisdom starts taking over your life.

There will come a time when the brain has no pull over you, and this state is also called “Sat Chit Ananda” (the bliss of being). The negative momentum in the brain is the only cause of “resistance” to life. If you want to be free from the influence of fear (of any form), you have to become free of the brain’s pull. The only way you can do this is by
staying detached as a space of awareness and allowing the momentum of the brain to slow down and ebb away. It takes sometime (a few months) before the momentum of negativity in the brain can fully slow down, till then you have to stay true to this simple practice of staying as a space of relaxed awareness every time the brain starts overwhelming you with its fears or negative thinking.

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  1. nomind

    Hello Sen, I wrote you an e-mail as well However, I just wanted to let you know that your article has brought me back from suicide watch. I was depressed and extremely social phobic from last 10 years. I went to vipassna discourse but was no help, I have been meditating for last ten years or so but I could not detach my self from my mind. My mind was a plaque for me always negative which costs me so much but since last week I have been free from all medications. I can walk in grocerystores and do activities of daily living as intended per normal human biengs. I feel a joy and a bliss in no mind conciousness. I feel one with trees, grass and can feel the whole universe is alive . I just want to thankyou.

    1. Sen Post author

      The joy of being reveals itself when the cloud of negativity starts thinning away. Negativity, however, does have a momentum, from the past attention, so it takes some time before the momentum ebbs away completely. You are now on the path towards releasing the negativity that had a hold on you for so many years, and it’s highly joyful to experience this movement towards freedom. I am glad you find guidance and insights from these posts. Thank you.

  2. nomind

    Thankyou Sen. I am a licensed physician in California. I would like to meet you personally if I could. I think i am just a toddler in understanding consciousness or just merely the detachment from mind as An concept. I do have a good feeling that I can learn alot from you as this would be my wish. I hope you can allow me to meet you sometimes in future.
    Many thanks

    1. Sen Post author

      Thank you, if you wish to share/discuss anything personal you can send me a mail through the contact form and we can have a conversation. We can meet up for sure if such an opportunity comes up.

  3. Nomind

    Hello Sen,
    I would like to ask you regarding how to practice or meditate on detatchment. I agree with you per bieng aware of your mind, but sometimes the minds pull is so strong I can’t detach my self. I can try to be aware but its still fearful. In other words my anxiety still creep up on me besid understanding that I am not my mind. What do you recommend when you said practice every day. Should we sit and practice for an hour twice daily etc.

    1. Sen Post author

      The practice of staying as a “detached witness” of the mind’s movement is only required so that you can strengthen the power of your awareness. It takes time for your awareness to be stable and strong (usually a few months) once you start being consciously aware of mind movements. It’s helpful to just sit by yourself, without any distractions, for at least 30 minutes or an hour daily and allow yourself to just experience everything that arises in the mind/body. When you sit in this place of total allowing, all the suppressed energies will come up to the surface and they will be released. When these suppressed energies are released the negative momentum in the mind will also slow down, and you will be able to sense the peace/joy of your being more and more. You will have to be patient with yourself as these suppressed energies are being released. These energies got suppressed in the past because there was a lack of awareness. These energies may not be pleasant to experience but you must allow them to come up so that they can be released. When these energies come up you will sense your body feels agitated or restless, and your mind tries to run away from it – but you can just sit and be with this experience without finding a distraction. A lot of past suppressed thoughts (in the form of guilt, anger, shame, resentment, grief, sadness or anxiety) may come up when these energies are released, because these energies were created during your past unconsciousness. Now that your awareness is becoming stronger you have the capacity to allow these energies to be released consciously.

  4. Nomind


  5. Evaline

    Dear Sen
    I had written you on another article and hope it’s OK to ask you a question in regards to this older one. I’m not internet savvy but I know that sometimes waking up old threads in forums is frowned upon. If coming back to this older post is a faux pas – I apologize.

    I have been suffering with emetophobia(specifically categorized as phobic of norovirus only) for 40 years. I have tried so many times to apply techniques geared toward other phobias such as fear of flying to my phobia, but it simply doesn’t work. These phobias of illness are so different than phobias to situations that can be avoided. What emetophobics fear can NOT really be avoided in life – and we are always running from something we can’t see. The terror involved with these phobias can be absolutely devastating.
    I understand allowing – I understand negative momentum and how relaxed awareness will “in time” slow that momentum so the brain no longer has the power to keep me so terrified. It all makes sense and I am so ready to open up to this completely so my life can finally be lived instead of dreaded.
    In order to ask my question, I have to be completely honest about my very embarrassing phobia. My biggest fear is that my husband will bring the virus home; that he will be ill – I am afraid that not only will I catch it from him but I will not be able to handle any part of the situation and have a complete nervous breakdown. The utter horror I feel when these thoughts come to me is worse than overwhelming. Is there, in your experience, any one phobia so severe that the sufferer cannot benefit from allowing and is beyond hope?

    I hope you might have a few insights for my particular instance. I’m so tired of this ruling my life.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. Sen Post author

      Evaline, the approach I am talking about is not about removing a specific fear but about removing the very momentum/intensity of fear energy (or feeling of fear). Just imagine if you reach a state where your mind creates a thought of fear but there is no intensity of fearful feeling in your body/being, where you don’t “feel” the grip of fear in you – in such a state the thoughts of fear simply pass through the mind unless you want to use a certain thought to figure out some proactive action. Since this approach has nothing to do with the specific thoughts, it’s applicable to any thought – the logic is to release the momentum of fear energy as a whole. Without the intensity of fear energy, you will not find fear to be uncomfortable, it won’t create the feeling of nervousness or panic that it creates for you now. There are quite a few posts where I talk about this logic of releasing the momentum, a couple of the main ones are below. (I talk about a product called Brainev in this post that’s very effective in dealing with brain momentum)

      The crux is that for a while you will have to let go of trying to sort out this phobia, stop trying to remove it. Rather just bring awareness to the feeling of fear in your body and be with that feeling, allow it to be there fully, allow its movement in your body as an energy until you are no longer resisting its presence – in the sense that your body has a feeling of fear but you are not trying to get rid of the fear, you are just allowing the feeling. The deal is to release the energy of fear without trying to sort out the thought – as long as you keep trying to sort out, or get rid, of the thought, it will keep gaining momentum from your fear of it.

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