Zen and the High Art of Sleeping On a Plane


I noted with pleasure a recent post by Virginia Heffernanthat reveals her yearning for the ability to catch a sound nap on board a plane. After all, a refreshing nap has plenty of positive health benefits. Unfortunately, there are lots of physical obstacles—cramped quarters, aisle traffic, public address announcements, turbulence—not to mention the cognitive strain of reconciling the banal proceedings inside the cabin with the unlikely fact of traveling at 500 miles per hour at 35,000 feet. I find sheer fatigue (and abstention from alcohol) is the best sleep inducement, but at least one reader suggested a routine that includes 1) avoiding an aisle seat, 2) covering neck or lap with a scarf or fleece (to produce blanket memory), and 3) repeating a positive thought as a mantra with eyes closed. And, oh yes, “vigil sleep”—the state of drowsiness with “one eye open” doesn’t count. I went through a phase where I would fall into a deep sleep only to startle myself awake with the vivid image of hanging suspended above the Atlantic in a tiny tube and wondering “how did I get here?” I guess I still have a long way to go before I lose my self-consciousness and gain perfect knowledge.

Are you able to meditate on a plane?

Photo by floralbrigades.


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