Who does the Lufthansa "Relaxation Program"?
November 17, 2005 3:00 AM   Subscribe

FearOfFlyingFilter: Do you fly Lufthansa? Do you listen to their "Relaxation Program" on the in-flight radio? Do you have any idea who does the guided imagery on it? Or, have any other great suggestions for calming things I could listen to at 30,000 feet?

So, I hate to fly and, indeed, I'm generally a fairly tense individual. I have listened to a few "relaxation CDs" but I haven't liked the ones I've heard. However, a few years ago I flew trans-Atlantic with Lufthansa and they had this amazing guided imagery/hypnosis/relaxation program; after listening to it for about 15 minutes, I fell asleep and woke up only as the plane was landing, feeling better than I had when I left.

The Lufthansa program alternated between an English version and a German version, but both speakers were women and the speaker on the English version (about whom I am interested in learning more) had a fairly region-neutral British accent, and instead of the therapeutic "wonderful" voice that most of these speakers affect, she had a crisp-er, almost narrative style, as if she was telling a good story. The imagery was about a walk in a field with a stream and a bench IIRC. So, the first part of my question is, if this description rings any bells for anyone or they happen to have the Lufthansa inflight magazine lying around, I'd be grateful to know the speaker's name so I can attempt to buy any commercial recording she's made (if she's made one), since I have several lengthy non-Lufthansa flights coming up and the prospect is stressing me.

The second part of my question (i.e. the part that isn't a major long shot) is: can anyone suggest any similar guided imagery/hypnosis/relaxation recordings that I might find helpful? This is a bit tricky, because my criteria for whether I can stand them (speaker is a woman who doesn't go overboard with the "wonderful" voice, non-US accents a plus) rules out at least 95% of the ones that are out there.

The "wonderful" voice, in case anyone desires clarification, is the soooothing, breathy, weird-dictioned "Berkeley therapist" style: "yooou are walking?" (odd pause here) "through a beauuuuutiful gar-den..." (odd pause here) "full." (odd pause here) "of fragrant flow-ers."

There's absolutely nothing wrong with it (I've known some lovely therapists from Berkeley!), but it has the opposite effect on me that it's meant to.

Suggestions for non-spoken relaxing things to listen to (nature sounds, music) are also _very_ welcome. Other approaches (drugs, meds, herbs) are beyond the scope of this question, but the thought is appreciated. Thank you very much!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I always listen to "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis when I fly. Most relaxing. You could also try some Chopin or Satie piano pieces or Boards of Canada.
posted by kenchie at 4:15 AM on November 17, 2005

Best answer: You probably won't be allowed to use a personal listening device during takeoff and landing, which are the most stressful bits. So perhaps it might be useful to get information on meditation, and practice it as a technique for a while before the flight.

What's scary is in your imagination (I realise that the thing you're scared of is the plane exploding or something, but as it would negatively impact ticket sales the airlines take steps to prevent this sort of thing from happening), and many practical meditation techniques are based on shifting your attention from your imagination to what is actually happening in your body without judgement: observing your breathing, or shifting your attention around your body and telling it to relax.

There is a lot of Buddhist material available for free on the internet, though obviously the vast majority of it concerns Buddhist doctrine (not sure that's the right word, but...).

Personally I like Jack Kornfield (who I first heard on Joe Frank's programmes, as an antidote to the cynicism of the rest of the programme), but I think he presses all the wrong buttons for you - American, high-voiced male.

Perhaps this will be of use to you. Perhaps not.

Doing it yourself rather than relying on being guided helps a lot, too, as relaxation is a conscious choice rather than something that someone else can do for you.
posted by Grangousier at 5:18 AM on November 17, 2005

I know you said no to drugs, however, my wife, who flies back and forth to Beijing each month, takes a sleeping pill just before take off. Personally, I prefer a xanex, but barring that I like the "where are we now" map with whatever "ethnic" channel they have (usually music from the destination/departure country). The music helps me focus on the destination and get out of myself, the map helps me see actual progress in our journey. I also take walks around the cabin and do little leg stretching exercises.

A good book can help you melt away hours of time outside your body.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:47 AM on November 17, 2005

The irrational fears are hard to control, but just in case yours are amenable to reason.... remember that the pilot of any commercial aircraft is an incredibly well-trained individual. He is way, WAY better at flying than you are, most likely, at ANYTHING... especially, say, driving, which can easily get you killed. And he is powerfully motivated to get you to your destination safely, since if you don't arrive in one piece, he doesn't either.

In other words, he wants to get home to his wife and kids, he's incredibly good at what he does, and you couldn't possibly be in safer hands. Your risk is less than a twentieth what it would be behind the wheel.

I realize that this may not help you, but whenever I start getting nervous on a plane, I run through that mental checklist and settle right down.
posted by Malor at 7:18 AM on November 17, 2005

A pilot once put the realities of flying into perspective for me: you are in far more danger on the drive to the airport than you are in the plane. In a car you don't think twice when traveling 60+ miles per hour, only a couple of measly feet from other cars, while in a plane, another aircraft within thousands of meters is considered a near miss.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:01 AM on November 17, 2005

What pollomacho said. I love to travel, but hate the traveling, and have gotten worse about flying in the last couple years. The advice below keeps me going, as recently as Monday (a coast-to-coast flight, with a wee patch of turublence, as the pilot put it, "between Colorado and Massachusetts." Great.)

1) One thing that's really helped me when things get turbulent - literally - is concentrating on breathing. It may sound stupid, but 6 seconds of inhaling and 10 on exhaling,for each breath, and no cheating, lowers all the anxiety responses. I'm pretty sure it makes me feel tired, too, and I generally have a very hard time sleeping in planes. (FWIW, I understand your no drugs qualification and am not recommending extensive studies in meditation, hypnosis, or anything else.)

2) Books are another huge help. If you have something you can read that puts you in that book's world, or requires concentration to understand, intense reading can reduce the amount of attention paid on aero-doom. Intense means reading the words consciously, individually, even up to moving lips while you read if it helps.

(Also on Lufthansa - their flights are so un-relaxing. The bright yellow interiors and brusque attendants are hard to deal with. Yikes.)
posted by whatzit at 10:15 AM on November 17, 2005

I usually listen to Brian Eno's ambient albums when flying, especially for longer flights across the Atlantic. I think there is some scientific/marketing/psychological reason for certain color schemes on planes. I find the bright red of Austrian Airlines flight attendants' uniforms a bit loud.
posted by vkxmai at 11:55 AM on November 17, 2005

Best answer: As far as the recording on Lufthansa flights, is this it?

From their site:
© Ellen Schweizer
An imaginary walk through dream landscapes, practical advice on flying longhaul by Dr. Lutz Bergau, and easy breathing and fitness exercises you can follow in your seat.
posted by MsMolly at 1:51 PM on November 17, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks! I was unable to find that on the Lufthansa site despite my best efforts.

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:26 AM on November 22, 2005

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