Fear of Flying—Let Go, Let God

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
I used to be the classic “white-knuckle flyer.” I was in such a terrified state that I would clutch the armrests and tightly squeeze my partner’s hand to the point of cutting off her circulation. And this wasn’t only during episodes of turbulence; it was at every takeoff and landing and throughout the flight. Anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax or Valium had little effect. Wine only made me sleepy. Visualizations and positive affirmations couldn’t touch the core of my fear. I was convinced I was going to die at every sound or movement of the plane. It took courage to keep flying in the face of that, but I did. Still, no matter how I tried to reframe airplane travel, I remained stuck in my mind’s perceptual prison of danger and unease.

That is, until I met Panache Desai. It wasn’t just the expansive spiritual framework that he introduced me to. It was the experience of God that I first had through his programs and in his presence. The terror of infinity/eternity I had felt since childhood (which was probably feeding my fear of flying) gradually softened into tentative trust in something greater than my own singular life—and finally faith. I began to experience infinity as God, as a peace-filled spaceless space, which, if I surrendered to it, completely enfolded me in its loving embrace. It was an experience of the soul not the mind. That is what changed everything, slowly but monumentally.

I gradually began to fly without fear. At takeoff, I would relax into the power of the energy that was lifting me into space. It was exhilarating instead of terrifying. When the plane floated downward toward the landing strip, my consciousness floated with it. During the flight, I started to look out the window to see the worlds we were passing through instead of staring straight ahead or sitting rigidly with my eyes closed. Prairies and mountains, rivers and lakes, constantly changing clouds, sunrise and sunset, all were visible beyond the plane’s windows, and I had refused to look for years. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop looking, and I began to request window rather than aisle seats. I was Alice stepping through the looking glass into the full magic of life on (and above) Earth.

The flight during which it really hit home that I was no longer frightened was between Boston and San Francisco. I was meditating quietly as we crossed over the Midwest and headed westward. Suddenly, something moved me to open my eyes and look out, and there beneath the plane was the entire span of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains reflecting radiant light in the morning sun. The shining peaks stretched into the distance, their magnificence filling me with awe and bringing tears to my eyes. I was looking through the eyes of my soul, and my soul saw God, saw infinity, and knew no fear.

Ever since then, I have felt deeply connected to God when I fly. “Connected” isn’t quite the right word. The experience is of God looking out at God, everywhere. There is nothing within me or within my gaze that isn’t God. And being thousands of feet up in the air allows me to have that infinite divine perspective. One that is different from that we have on the ground. What we see here is miraculous and beautiful. What we see up there is beyond words.

Last month, on a plane from Dallas to Santa Barbara, I was able to experience the Southwest from above in a way that opened up my consciousness even further. I have traveled, and hiked, there many times over the years, but now I was seeing the whole area as one limitless vision: the pink expanse of the Painted Desert, the red cliffs and rock formations of the Sedona area, and the sandy brown and beige desert nuances in between. The topography was of a piece, not cut up to fit a state map or a hiker’s trail guide. It was all one, and in looking at it from above, instead of immersed in it, I could see the seamlessness of all life. I could see God. On the other side of all my fear was wonder, infinite wonder. And profound gratitude.



Celebrating Solitude

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
Even though I’ve been in a couple for 35 years, I love being alone. It’s been a part of my life since childhood. I grew up as an only child on five acres in rural Illinois, where I spent a good portion of my childhood playing outdoors alone (or with my dog) and sitting in trees reading. I don’t ever remember feeling lonely. My parents and I were close, so I was with them a lot too, and I had school friends who came to visit, but at the core of my life was time spent in solitude. It became the peaceful center from which I lived outward into the world. As an adult, I always relied on time alone to come back to myself, away from jobs and social situations. Don’t get me wrong—I loved my friends, but there was a certain point at which I had to step away and be alone. It was like breathing to me.

I have so many memories that involve finding joy in being by myself. One of the most vivid was when I worked for a senator as a student intern in Washington, DC, in college. One lunch hour I wandered around outside the Capitol Building alone and then sat in the sun in a quiet spot where no one else was walking. I can remember having a sudden flash of absolute exhilaration when the thought crossed my mind, “No one else on Earth knows where I am right now.” There was something incredibly exciting about that to a 19-year-old living in a new city, trying out grown-up life on her own. I’ve never forgotten that feeling—of being an alive, independent, free spirit in the world.

When I took up bird-watching many years later, I felt a similar thrill being alone in nature: a magical aura that surrounded a sudden encounter with a migrating bird in a bush or tree. If I were absolutely still and silent, the birds came closer and continued with their bird lives as if I weren’t there. It was a precious gift. There were even times when a wood thrush or warbler would land in a branch close to me and sing its heart out. Some kind of special connection occurred then—a living awareness that passed between us. I treasured those moments. It was perhaps my first conscious experience of the spirit of life that is in all beings.

After I embarked on a spiritual path in my 30s, time spent alone in meditation or contemplation became central to my journey. I found it absolutely key to have those daily periods of solitude in order to connect with my own soul and with God. In solitary silence, “stillness speaks,” as Eckhart Tolle has written. Divine connection is an inner experience that comes only when we set aside all external distractions and open our hearts and souls to something greater, beyond the material world.

These quiet moments are extremely precious to me. They are at the core of my life as a human/spirit on this Earth. Ultimately, too, they bring me closer to those around me. I am fortunate in having a life partner who understands and supports my wish to have alone time. She too needs time to herself. When we come together from our separate solitudes, our connection is even deeper and more loving.

Words are often unnecessary with friends and family who share this kind of connection. Something beyond verbal language is passing between us. We recognize and celebrate one another’s souls when we are together and carry our heart connection with us when we are apart. This is life on Earth at its most expansive and wonderful. To me, time spent alone is an essential part of being human, of being conscious spirit in physical form, which is why we incarnated at this particular time on this particular planet. The world is full of so many distractions. It is only in stepping aside and looking inward that we find the true nature of who we are in this extraordinary universe. Every day I say a prayer of gratitude for the solitude that is a sanctuary of peace in my life.


Your Soul’s Awareness

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
Live as your soul, and trust in God. Live as God, and trust in your soul. One and the same. Your soul is God here on Earth within a physical form. God is in every physical form on the planet—every human being, every animal, every butterfly, every tree, every stone, every tiny grain of sand. There is absolutely nothing that is not Source energy. When we come to this greater awareness, we can be free of separation on every level. Separation from God, separation from others, and separation within ourselves. My mind, body, emotions, and spirit are all one. I am one with all beings everywhere.

Separateness is just an illusion that God/dess put in place so that we could experience our unique individual forms and then come back into conscious awareness of the oneness of all things. Earth is a playground of expanding consciousness. We see one another as different and separate, but when we begin to align more fully with our soul’s awareness, we remember the oneness from which we were created and to which we will return after death. Life allows the experience of separation and the blissful reunion after separation. On this planet of polarities, we come to know all extremes, and God knows them through us, experiences life as we experience it. We are human emissaries who enable God to explore constantly evolving realms of beingness.

So if you thought that you came to Earth only to suffer, think again. Better yet, drop down out of your mind into your heart. Within the heart is where we are closest to the Divine because God is love, and our hearts are love transmitters. When we feel pure unconditional love for another being, we break through the illusion of separateness and experience our own divinity. We love as God loves, and in doing so, we fulfill our purpose for being here. We came to this planet to reach full awareness of who we are and to live as God in human form, loving all that we see as God, including ourselves. Sounds simple, but we have to live the complications to reach simplicity.

I have lived through layer after layer of complicated experiencing in my life, all of it eventually bringing me back home to my own soul, to the God within, which so many spiritual masters have pointed to for thousands of years. We were born wise, fully conscious of our divine connection. Then our clear vision gets blurred by the illusions of the world we are taught is real. All my life experiences are meant to awaken me from that illusion. We who are alive at this time have incarnated specifically to reach collective soul awareness. Each of us is here to know and love one another as God. That is heaven on Earth, and that is the grace-filled destiny that is yours.

“We’ve Been Waiting for You”

Photograph © 2011 Peggy Kornegger
These were former President Obama’s words last week after students across the U.S. walked out of their classes to attend demonstrations protesting guns and violence in this country. The Parkland, Florida, high school shootings on February 14, where 17 students and teachers were killed, was the most recent of over 200 other school shootings in the last six years. It appears to be the “last straw” for young people who have watched the escalation of lethal violence directed at their classmates and teachers.

Emma Gonzalez, senior at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, spoke fiercely and articulately at a gun control rally in Ft. Lauderdale: “The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us….Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this….It’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.” She speaks for countless others across this nation, of all ages, races, nationalities, and backgrounds. And she echoes Oprah Winfrey’s words, in a different context (sexual abuse) but also about the devaluing of human lives by those in power, “Their time is up!” We are reaching critical mass on so many fronts.

I had tears in my eyes when I listened to Oprah’s speech and Emma’s speech, and when I read Obama’s heartfelt reaction to the students taking a stand against the existence of guns and violence in their lives: “We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.” Those of us who have actively spoken out for nonviolence, peace, and the honoring of all human lives (“Black Lives Matter!”) for years see hope for the future in these angry but determined young faces. They are in great pain, but often great change comes from such pain. Pain that cuts through all the lies and gets to the heart of the matter: How do you want to live your one precious life? At war or at peace? In fear or in love?

We are at a crossroads in this country and on this planet. The culture of violence that is killing our children and breaking our hearts is also causing us to stand up and let our voices be heard for something different. Every single “ism” and “phobia”—racism, sexism, ageism, xenophobia, homophobia—that has dominated the collective consciousness for hundreds of years is starting to unravel and fall apart at the seams. It may look like hatred of all kinds is gaining strength, but what we are seeing is the desperation of those who sense “their time is up.” “Power over” is frantically trying to hang on, but “power together” (“Me too”) is gaining strength. The spirit of oneness is rising in people’s hearts, whether they are aware of it yet or not. The “otherness” and separation that we have been trained to believe in is losing its grip, and compassion and unity is coming to the fore.

That spirit is in those students whose courage and resolve inspire every one of us to stand with them, to “have their backs.” Because it’s not just about them. It’s about all of us. We are all immigrants on this Earth, and we came here for a purpose beyond our individual lifetimes: to embody peaceful coexistence and loving kindness on a planet that has never fully lived it. The waiting is over; our time is now. Each of us knows in our heart that love is stronger than fear and hatred, and global transformation occurs when we live that truth, shining it outward from the very core of our being so that it is reflected in the hearts of everyone, everywhere. To quote Oprah again, “A new day is on the horizon.” Let’s walk into it together.

Show Up, Be Open

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
At times we approach our lives with reluctance, dragging our feet. Attached to the past, apprehensive about the future, we are not fully present to what is happening now. Fear or regret keep us trapped in a repetitive pattern of non-acceptance and non-alignment with the events of life. From the outside, we may look like we’re here, but in truth we are absent. We’ve closed the door to possibility and locked it tightly, believing we are protecting ourselves from disappointment or disaster. However, in shutting down, we lose connection to the threads that tie everything together so perfectly in life’s tapestry. We feel lost and alone. Is it possible to get our bearings and experience connection once again? Absolutely.

In my own life, I find more and more that if I’m willing to be open to whatever is unfolding, that openness transforms my experience in completely unexpected ways. There is a magic that occurs when you just show up in life moment to moment without an agenda, a to-do list, or any preconceptions. In the stillness of Nature, this is easy, but recently I experienced it in one of the most crowded, noisy places imaginable: New York City.

My partner, Anne, and I were celebrating our 35th anniversary, and we had matinee tickets for Dear Evan Hansen. In the back of our heads, however, we also wanted to see Hamilton, even though tickets are hard to get and extremely expensive. We wondered what would happen if we went by the theater to see if anything was available for that night’s show. So we did. There were, of course, no seats, but they told us we could stand in the cancellations line in case something opened up. We decided to come back at 5 after our matinee.

Dear Evan Hansen was amazing and deeply moving, and we left tearfully uplifted, in a daze of emotion. The Hamilton theater was right around the corner, and the cancellations line already had several people in it. We joined them. No expectations, just for the adventure of seeing what would unfold. We spent the next three hours having a great time talking with other people in line from all over the world. The suspense grew as curtain time drew closer.

Then at 10 minutes before 8, someone from the box office came and said to us, “Follow me.” Within 5 minutes, we had tickets (not scalped and thus less expensive) and were ushered to seventh-row-center orchestra seats!! We were so thrilled we were speechless, and we watched the show (one of the best theater experiences ever) practically levitating with excitement. What an incredible anniversary gift!

I feel certain we would have been just fine if no seats had become available since we already were in such an appreciative happy mood. Perhaps it was just that state of being that opened the doors of possibility to even more joy and abundance. The key, it seems, is to appreciate every moment no matter what occurs. The greater wisdom is to be open to all experiences, not just the “good” ones. To realize that all of life is a blessing, even the perceived challenges. We can live our lives like this all the time, trusting, welcoming it all. We don’t have to wait for a “perfect” day or event. Every day, every moment, is perfect for opening your heart and feeling a connection to the magical energy of life flowing through you.