I Believe I Can Fly

Monica Urdva Clayton

A few months ago, I received an email from Steve Rogne of Zen Shiatsu Chicago. He was looking for people to participate in a demo on Shiatsu for Phobias presented at the Women’s Athletic Club in Chicago. I was chosen for the demo because I was a perfect candidate for the treatment based on the reaction my body had at the mere idea of being on an airplane: rapid heartrate, shortness of breath, tightening of the chest…

This phobia was caused by a very intense flight during a thunderstorm in which the small plane that I was on needed to land on a small mountain. Serious lightening. The winds were so high that the plane felt like it was being tossed around like a toy in the hands of Godzilla. The flight attendant strapped herself into her seat and her wide-eyed panic provided zero comfort for the passengers. There was loss of altitude at a near nose-dive angle. Complete silence except for the pilot stating the obvious – that we were moving through an intense storm. And to please remain seated with our seatbelts on. We landed. Safely.

However, I held anxiety about the return flight the entire time I was away. Though that flight was smooth and without trouble, it’s been over 15 years since that airplane ride back to my city of residence. That experience grounded me. It didn’t keep me from traveling to beautiful places, but it did keep me from boarding an airplane.

During my first Shiatsu for Phobia session, which lasted all of about 15 minutes, a mantra came to me: “The past is not the present. Each new experience deserves the opportunity to be viewed with fresh eyes.” And this is the goal of the treatment, that the brain will store that past experience in the place where it belongs so that the thought of it no longer triggers an adrenal response. I am certain that something has shifted in regard to my past fear of flying. Where I would normally begin to hyperventilate in the recounting of that old story, this time as I told the story to a friend, it was almost as if it had happened to someone else.

I returned for a one hour follow-up session at Zen Shiatsu to discharge any nervousness about future airplane travel. I suppose I will know for sure how I feel about flying when I next go to book a flight. Stay tuned for Part II…



About mymyriadmuse

Monica J. Brown is a multi-disciplinary artist.
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