Wednesday, March 30, 2016

To Stress or Not to Stress - You Can Choose

I am in a cab on my way to JFK Airport, my flight to New Delhi leaves in three hours. It's rush hour. The concerned voices of work colleagues advising me to play it safe and get the train linger in the back of my mind.

Choice Number One: Focus on the endless string of red tail lights in front of me, the ticking cab meter, the time on my cell phone.

Choice Number Two: Chill out, enjoy being a passenger and talk to the cab driver.

No matter how I choose to spend my time in the cab, I am going to reach the airport at exactly the same time.

Luckily, I remembered this fact, saved myself a lot of grief, and chose option two. So instead of having a horrible conversation with myself, I had a delightful conversation with Manish.

Manish, my sage like driver, could not understand why so many of his passengers stressed out over time. "If you miss the plane, get the next one. It's not the end of the world." I agreed and felt compelled to confess  how close I came to choosing option one minutes earlier. A humbling reminder of how tender our solid practices can become when we are feeling under pressure. Little did I know I would have another opportunity to put my practice to the test in a few hours.

The flight started off great. I occupied an aisle seat, there was an empty seat in the middle and an interesting young man sat by the window. We chatted briefly and cordially about where we were headed and the purpose of our trips. I told him about working/volunteering with A Fresh Chapter and he shared that he had no plan other than to explore Sri Lanka, India and Nepal for the next six months. We shared the empty middle seat with our books, headphones and blankets. Good boundaries seemed to be in place and I settled in for the long flight.

About two hours into the fourteen hour journey horrendous turbulence kicked in. The kind where it feels like the plane is in the middle of a gigantic cocktail shaker. I held my breath for a few seconds and prayed for it to pass. It didn't. I focused on my mantra, for at least another ten minutes, still there was  no sign of it stopping. Suddenly, the terrifying thought that it could be like this for the next twelve hours sprang into my mind.

That single thought had the potential to wreak havoc. "Oh my God! I'll never make it!" I could feel the panic rising and had an incredibly strong impulse to grab the arm of the young man by the window. Instead, I calmly said out loud " Hey Tim, I am having a really hard time with all this turbulence. How are you doing? " Tim simply said, " It's just rocking you to sleep Pasha. No big deal, it's just rocking you to sleep."

Wow! In that moment my panic turned into acceptance, just like that. My focus changed and I let go. Manish flashed into my mind and I remembered that I was going to arrive in New Delhi at the same time, whether I was freaking out or not.

I put on my headphones and listened to the relaxing playlist I made for a yoga class the day before. The turbulence eventually subsided. The potentially terrorizing journey transformed into a rocking one.

We always have a choice, sometimes we just need to be reminded. Important strangers can often serve as important messengers. Once we shine the light of awareness on any situation we have a better chance of making a choice that serves us as opposed to one that hurts us.

The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle reminds us that with each breath we have an important voice to make.
Present moment: friend or enemy?

Remember, you get to choose.

Bright Spring Blessings for friendly choices!

With Tremendous Love,


  1. I needed to hear this. Getting tax revision done at Santa Fe Community College and the volunteers are grumpy :) I choose to be the helpful stranger for them today. Many thanks!!! Love & Miss you greatly Pasha♡♡♡♡

    1. Thank you dear heart! Good choice! I know the feeling I am working on my taxes today too.....deep breaths, good music, cup of tea....all is well. Big Love you YOU!

  2. It is always a good time to be reminded of how the person next to us is ourselves often feeling and dealing with the same struggle but with different methods, the potentially stressful situation we may find ourselves in can be gotten through with mindful breathing that shifts the entire situation, and lastly and fundamentally true is the wisdom of Manish that it is our reaction to stressors that determines how we make it through otherwise tough moments. We are all struggling, why not reach across and support each other to reach understanding and peace in our days... Love and thanks to you Pasha for stimulating this discussion. XO

    1. We are all in this together! Thank you so much Kathleen for your insightful and thoughtful comment. Good reminder to be gentle with ourselves and everyone we meet as we never know what is going on with one another. Namaste px

  3. Wonderful post! It reminds me of my coming to a similar kind of peace in my tent in the woods in heavy thunderstorms. I can freak out about being hit by lightening or a tree branch breaking off above me, or enjoy the light show. I also used it to appreciate how dry my tent was on the inside and how well my tarp was working. (The sound of water draining away from my tent is beautiful music!) I use that now, in my apartment, to appreciate being indoors in a thunderstorm!

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!


    1. I love this! We can practice Thicjh Nhat Hahn's "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment" no matter what is going on!

      and thanks for sharing your wisdom too Yvette.....Huge Love to You my Friend xoxo