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Cleared for Take-off

If you have ever flown in an airplane, you have experienced air turbulence. I am reminded of a time when I had the not-so-pleasant opportunity to spend an additional 45 minutes in a holding pattern. We circled around the Salt Lake airport waiting for a high wind warning to expire so that the pilot could land the plane safely. (This was after spending over 10 hours in the air already so you can imagine how much fun it was.)

The air was really choppy and people were starting to reach for the airsickness bags in the seat pockets. We eventually got the clearance to land and we did so safely of course. We all know that the possibility of turbulence is just part of flying.

That experience reminded me that in several ways, flying can be a powerful metaphor that can teach us a lot about our healing journey.

Take Off is the Bumpiest Time

I know that take-off can be a pretty stressful process for many people but I love it. I love to feel the power of those huge jet engines as they engage and hurl us with crazy speed down the runway. It is still somewhat mind-boggling to think that something that heavy can actually get airborne. I’m impressed by just how much energy and force it takes to break the pull of gravity. I’ve read that planes use close to 25% of their entire fuel just to get off of the ground.

Think about that when it comes to your healing process. Doesn’t it feel like it takes a ton of energy, money, and focus just to get things started? There is so much to learn. So many new things to do. It is often so time-consuming that it disrupts your normal life patterns. I’ve seen a lot of people give up right when they get started just because they weren’t prepared for it to take so much energy. But, just like in flight, once you start to climb to a cruising altitude, you can pull back on the throttle and still maintain altitude. Eventually, many behaviors soon become habits and second nature to you.

Hang in there, cruising altitude is coming!

I’m no aviation expert nor would I consider myself a frequent flyer but it seems to me that 90% of the time, the bumpiest part of the flight happens during take-off. That is the case with healing as well. It isn’t always smooth sailing as you begin to implement health changes. Sometimes you even feel worse before you feel better. Not every adjustment, supplement, or healing modality you try works as well as you might hope. If you are persistent and can hang on a bit, you can make it to smoother air and the ride becomes more enjoyable. You figure out what works for you and you get into a good healing space.

I often find that when a patient understands this simple analogy, they get a better picture of the process of healing. They understand that there will be ups and downs, smooth times and turbulent times, times that seem to be overwhelming, and times that seem effortless. It’s all part of the journey.

Where do you think you are on that journey? Are you taking off, still in climbing mode, or are you at a comfortable cruising altitude? Are you feeling bumpy air and need to adjust your altitude a little bit to smooth out your ride?

Share your thoughts about this simple analogy. Does it help you understand the process you are on? Feel free to reply and add to this discussion.

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