Yoga meets Anxiety at the Airport

A Life Lesson

My recent trip to Miami was quite an interesting experience. My boyfriend suggested I make the trip to visit my family and friends, since he would be in California for a reunion with his cousins. I felt bad because I had just recently started teaching yoga at a local gym in NJ and I did not want to start missing work. However, it meant a lot for me to be able to spend the holidays with my mother and family. After all, what better way to start the new year than in the company of family and friends.


But really, this is where the real story begins…

The winter storms and polar vortex in the North East caused my flight to be canceled twice! Originally, I was only planning to stay for four days so I could get back to Jersey. However, Mother Nature intended to keep me longer in Miami. I learned to accept my situation and continue moving with the flow. Perhaps, I needed to spend this much time away to really appreciate home, friends, family and the beautiful weather. What was even more beautiful was that my boss was very understanding of my situation.

Finally, my third flight was said to arrive in New Jersey with half hour delay due to the thunder storms in Miami. My bags were packed and ready to go. My mother dropped me off at the airport, I gave her a big fat hug and a little farewell card. As I began to walk toward the security gate, I realized I had left my cell phone charging in her car and my flight would depart in an hour. The first thought that popped into my head was “Don’t panic, she’ll be back”. So I ran back outside to see if she came back, but after 10 minutes passed, I realized she wasn’t coming back. I couldn’t remember her cell phone number, because she has always been saved into my favorites. So, I asked this nice island gentleman sitting by the security check point to lend me his phone so I could make a call. I start calling my cell phone hoping she would hear it and answer it. Tenth attempt and no response. Later, I found out she had the windows down and the music loud. I walked back outside of the airport hoping to see her, but still no luck. I ran back in and used a payphone, which was free only for local calls. Great! Well, I couldn’t get in touch with anyone because everyone had a different area code. I asked a security guard where I could make a phone call, and she told me I had to go around the lobby and purchase a $20 dollar calling card. Instead, I found a nice Indian girl sitting by the payphones and asked her to please lend me her phone. I called my boyfriend, no response. I called my cell phone, no response. I called my sister, and again, no response.

The second thought that came to mind was “she could always mail me the phone – let’s just get through security and get on the plane.” Well, a hard realization hit me right away… The only identification along with my credit cards- were together with my phone in its case. I was very disappointed at myself but still kept trying to stay calm. I got to security and explained my situation to them. The TSA administrator told me I had to wait a half hour to run an identity background check and suggested I get on the next flight because she was sure I would miss my flight. I kindly reminded her that my flight was delayed and that it wouldn’t be a problem, but she still felt I would miss my flight. While I waited for her, I pulled out my laptop outside the security fence and started to get in touch with my brother and my boyfriend through Facebook, so they could get in touch with my mother. Finally, my boyfriend messaged me to say my mom had gone back to return my phone, but that one of the personnel would leave it at the Jet Blue Gate, and that they would be paging my name.

I ran back to security and told them that my mother had just returned my phone. I could hear my name being paged inside my designated gate. The TSA administrator told me I couldn’t get through screening and instructed that I must go to the Jet Blue help desk, so I could get my phone at the reception desk. I can only hear my heart racing faster and faster. With only fifteen minutes left for my flight to depart, I ran to Jet Blue and told them I was Angela Alvarado the person they’ve been paging for a lost phone. A nice gentleman offered to run to the gate and get my phone. I knew this would take at least ten to fifteen minutes. And my heart continues to race a little faster. I told myself not to panic and also psyched my self in that everything would be all right.

This entire situation made me feel as if I was exhausted after running a half marathon. I was stressing and experiencing anxiety. Being a health enthusiast and Yoga instructor, I took a step back to analyze my situation, rested over the counter with my head down and began to breath with deep inhalation and exhalations. It was hard to breathe because I felt my chest constricting from the fear of missing my flight and for making my mother late for work. After a few breaths, everything around me began to slow down, as did my heart beat after beating so fast from the anxiety. I was able to bring my focus and attention to the breathing and began to let go of all the negative emotions building up inside me. The noise in the airport from the announcements and people rushing around also began to ease and dissolve. I made an internal connection with my heart. I looked up and there was the sweet gentleman approaching me with my phone in his hands.

I finally got through security. Only this time, the guard scanning the monitors pulled my bags for a search. I’ve probably missed my flight by now I thought. TSA told me I must either get rid of the two 8 oz. jars of lotion or run back to the Jet Blue counter to check in my bag. I can feel my heart starting to beat harder again. I tried to stay calm but it became nearly impossible to not let tears of fear stream down my face, because I thought by this point, I was definitely not getting on that flight. Those 8 oz. jars were gifts I was taking for my family up there. The TSA dude escorted me back out so I could check my bag. Luckily, I was able to get someone immediately to register my bag and not to mention, ask me ten thousand questions as to why my bag wouldn’t make it to the plane in time. Oh, this bag may be too heavy the clerk said. I nodded my head yes and agreed with him for everything. I couldn’t hear half of the stuff he was saying because all I could hear was my heart beat louder and harder. The moment I was anxiously waiting for; he took my bag and dumped it on the carousel. I ran back immediately to security and the TSA dude let’s me in and made sure I got checked in as a pre-screened traveler. Finally, I made it through (what felt like hell) and began to run towards my gate only to find out that no one had yet boarded and that the airline was experiencing longer delays due to inclement weather in the North East and overcast in Miami.

Seriously, time to find a bathroom, wash my hands and face, look at myself in the mirror and say, “You’re going to be all right” and reassure my self “everything is all right.” I later found a chair where I could continue my breathing and thought to myself,  I should not be annoyed that my flight was still delayed because after all, I was on my route back home. As soon as I realized that, the attendant at the desk began boarding wheel chair passengers and families with strollers. It was an amazing relief to know that I was finally on my way home!

This is where I take this experience as a life lesson:

I learned many, many wonderful things about myself during this trip. Spending time with my mother gave me the opportunity to see a reflection of each other. We might agree on some things and disagree on others. What’s important here is we are very unique in our own ways.

Catching up with friends felt like a blessing from above. You clearly come to understand why they came into your life and why they stuck around. Fortunately, I was and will continue to be surrounded by such amazing and wonderful friends.

Driving around town, witnessing how beautiful this city has grown and developed, made me realize there is no place like home. The energy in Miami is always vibrant and positive with friendly folks and warm beautiful weather.

This is why Yoga continues to improve the quality of my life and helps me battle whatever stress I’m facing. It teaches me which journey the roots of my actions will lead me on. This is also why I’m able to stay motivated and share the knowledge of health and wellness with my friends, my clients and my family. Through clarity, I am able to understand my purpose in this world and it also gives me the strength and courage to pursue my dreams. Then, there are some special people around me who encourage me to grow. Because they’ve believed in me, I am able to believe in myself. And for that I am grateful.

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