Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

Mindfully walking away from bad dreams?

I had more vivid nightmares the night before last… In the first, I was waiting in the airport with Baby. We were about to go on a trip to an Island near the one we’ve just visited, and Bf was already with the crew planning the flight and doing his pre-flight checks. After going through airport security, I realise with horror that I forgot to check in my suitcase-and that I left it at home! I rush back home in a taxi to grab it, and make it back inside of half an hour.  The stress of the frantic journey is overwhelming and I feel sick to the pit of my stomach for the whole time. I try to send a text to Bf about it, but he must have his phone switched off.  In the end, by the time I got back to the airport, we have missed the flight.

I woke from that dream feeling really stressed out, but relieved that it was only a dream, and then realised how stupid the scenario was. However, I proceeded to go back into a very similar dream, only that time, instead of forgetting my suitcase. I was in the departure lounge, and I get a phone call on my mobile phone informing me that my Dad has just passed away. I am completely overwhelmed and distressed by the news, and desperately want to contact Bf… However, in much the same way as before, he is un-contactable.  I feel incredibly frustrated and stressed, that despite the fact that we are probably only separated by less than 100 feet, that I am completely unable to communicate my distress to him.  I end up leaving the airport to get to my father without managing to speak with him.

I woke up from that one in a sweaty mess, and lay awake feeling thoroughly stressed out and upset, and worried that if I went back to sleep I’d just torture myself with a different scenario instead!  I am not sure why I am having these nightmares. Last night, I took a sleeping tablet, and thankfully avoided the restless night.  I can only imagine that it is a combination of the stress of the past few months, the fact that Bf has been unable to be as supportive as I would have liked because he has been away on trips when awful things have happened, the heat and the stress of wanting to do well at my new job after my experiences at the last place.

I went to my mindful meditation class today, and explained my frustrations about my lack of sleep, and as it transpired that other people in the group were having issues with anxiety and hectic routines too, we practiced a ‘walking meditation’.  I really didn’t enjoy the walking meditation. In the past I have practiced sitting meditations, and body scan meditations (laying down).

The teacher asked us to stand for a while, with our eyes closed and concentrate on our breathing, becoming aware of any sensations in our bodies, noticing things like where we felt our weight supported in the soles of our feet (heels, mid foot, ball of foot, etc).  She invited us to shift our weight around and notice the sensations with the changes.  I started to sway involuntarily a bit, and then I felt really frustrated because I couldn’t relax as much as I do with the sitting or body scan (laying down) meditations that I have practiced so far.  Then she asked us to start walking very slowly, noticing the sensations in the soles of our feet as we shifted our weight across the foot, and pay attention to how we balanced as we lifted our feet, etc…  Every now and again she would say things like: ‘relax, notice if you are holding any tension or tightness anywhere, and how that makes you feel, relax your stomach muscles… If your mind starts to wander… Notice where it wanders to and gently pull yourself back to into the practice, by anchoring your thoughts to your breathing.’

I tried to follow her instructions, but found myself feeling self conscious about my posture, and felt silly as I thought about how silly we must all look walking around in slow motion. It reminded me of my old after school club drama lessons, which made me even less able to relax.  I began to find myself feeling frustrated that I was not getting as much out of this practice as I wanted to. I felt out of my comfort zone. After going through various exercises of paying attention to synchronous breathing in and out to the actions of each foot, and then paying attention to the sounds we could hear, and the sensations, she asked us to try to focus on one part of the experience alone.  I wanted to focus on the sensations in my feet, but noticed that I became pre-occupied with the noises instead.

Then finally, she invited us back to our chairs, to discuss our experiences. As I sat back in the chair, I felt like I was back in a comfort zone.   I explained that I didn’t get as much out of the walking meditation as previous meditations, and that I wasn’t as relaxed as a result… However, the teacher said that mine is a normal reaction to a first walking meditation, and that you actually learn more from noticing your reactions to these situations than you do by simply relaxing into something you can already do (and is in your comfort zone)… Since mindful meditation is about acceptance, if I struggle to be at ease with this; I am being too self critical, or have placed unfair expectations on myself about how I should feel about it, then I am likely to carry this through into life in other areas too.

It was interesting to note that some of the others found the walking meditation really relaxing, and one lady experienced similar self consciousness about her posture and relaxing her tummy as I did, except that she then mentally hardened herself, and said she dealt with it by saying to herself “Oh I dont care, Im going to do it any way”.  The teacher suggested to her that this kind of defensive reaction sets her apart from others in her mind, and she is therefore putting up barriers between her and other people in situations where she feels anxious or stressed, she said that although subtle, these little things that we do can have wider implications on our relationships with others than we realise!  She invited her to explore her feelings as she notices them, but to be curious instead of judgemental and self-critical or assumptive, and to be kind/gentle to ourselves.

So, as she pointed out, breaking outside of your comfort zone, though awkward, can be a good ‘growing’ pain, as long as we can be open and receptive to exploring our reactions.  I am finding the whole this SO fascinating.  I actually can’t wait for next week. I am going to attempt to do some more walking meditation this week.  Any way, although it’s only 9:30, I must go to bed, Bf has to be up at 4am for a short-haul flight, and I have no doubt that he’ll wake me too, and I cannot afford to be tired as I am still in the courting period at work!


3 Responses to “Mindfully walking away from bad dreams?”

  1. Thank you for that post, I found it really interesting! It’s a concept I think may help with my own anxiety. Would you say that mindful meditation is similar to yoga or tai chi? I can go to these classes free of charge at the gym I am member of but I don’t know of any mindful meditation classes near to me.
    The dreams that you’re having sound very distressing. I think you have done a good job in managing to identify the reasons that they’ve been happening. It may be helpful to try to notice any patterns that occur in these dreams such as; do they happen more when bf is away? Or after a day at work, or the night before a day at work? etc. Perhaps there is no pattern but it could help reduce them if there was something that you could identify. I hope the mindful meditation continues to help, I know what you mean about drama club, I thought the same whilst reading that post!

  2. Thank you 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: