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Interview With KRS Edstrom

Aired November 24, 2002 - 07:39   ET


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: The fact is, is some people are just simply afraid to fly. And since the terrorist attacks, that number has certainly increased. Author and stress expert, KRS Edstrom, has come up with a way to ground your fear of flying with details of her methods in her new book and CD, "Fly Without Fear: Guided Mediations for a Relaxing Flight."
KRS Edstrom is with us this morning from Los Angeles. Boy, you've got up very early for us this morning. It's the middle of the night.

KRS EDSTROM, AUTHOR: It is the middle of the night, isn't it? Hi, Catherine.

CALLAWAY: Good morning to you. You know, I know there are people that are simply just afraid to get up in the sky in a plane, but with 9/11 came a lot of fear of just the unknown, who was going to be on board with you, and what could possibly happen. Have you talked with a lot of people that were trying to conquer those fears, as well as their fear of flying?

EDSTROM: Yes, it -- well, it all kind of goes into the same ball of wax, if you will. A lot of people were afraid pre 9/11, it was funny. And the fears got exacerbated when 9/11 came. It's like, well I was always afraid of this. In fact now, 44 percent of the people are afraid to fly. That number is epidemic and I'm doing what I can to help.

CALLAWAY: You know, I don't know about 44 percent. I think all of us at some point know that there's some risk in being up that high in a plane. And you know who's going to be on a plane with you, but what can you really do to make someone feel better?

EDSTROM: Well, that's why I -- in the past, I've designed in flight relaxation programming for the airlines. And it was so successful, that I got feedback of where can we get something like this, especially from those that are afraid to fly. And that resonates with me, because I had a nine year history of not flying. So I came out with the CD and I'm doing seminars on how to overcome your fear of flying. And it's not about the intellect, if I can start it backwards by the way. Everyone says well, don't be afraid. And your spouse may laugh at you and say oh, driving in a car is still safer.

They're right, but in my seminars... CALLAWAY: It doesn't help you. You know, they may be right, but it doesn't help you. So give us some quick tips, if you can, on what we can...

EDSTROM: Exactly. Well, I do a lot of things. Breathing techniques, because different strokes for different folks and then different circumstances. So it's nice to have an arsenal of techniques. Breathing techniques, attention released techniques where you learn how the muscles in your body are tense most of the time. Even in the middle of the night on bathroom trip, you can see you're gritting your teeth and you're asleep. Or you're fists are clenched.

So I like that. It's literally body education. Then I use visualization. But one of the most powerful techniques is something -- actually, it's a Buddhist tradition called the pasena (ph). We are now calling it mindfulness in America. And we're using it in hospitals. Therapists are using it.

CALLAWAY: What is it?

EDSTROM: It basically it's -- you have a negative body mind pattern going. I'm afraid. I'm afraid up in the brain. And then in the body, oh yes, my heart better start beating and my muscles better get tense. So you get a negative pattern going. And instead, with mindfulness, we break it apart. As my teacher says divide and conquer.

So we note these are thoughts. These are only thoughts. This is body sensation. And especially with fear. So here's the punchline, you go to the fear, exactly what you don't want to do in a sense, circle -- I like to have people circle it exactly, whether it's your shoulder, your jaw, your whole body, and identify it. Then you notice that there's a tension in there, an internal tension, which makes the mind afraid, but instead we're going to stay in the body, soften that work to release even those watching right now, who are going to fly today...


EDSTROM: ...can say yes, I'm tense right here. And I'm saying give it a chance. Open, release, melt, surrender into the stress, if you will, the tension, and you'll find that that energy, because that that's what it is is blocked energy. So just like an acupuncture needle of awareness in this case, we are going in and breaking up the energy. It's fabulous, exciting work because it gives you more than just getting over the fear of flying. It gives you skills for everyday.

CALLAWAY: I think -- yes, I think I'd have to have you just telling me that all the way through. I don't know that I could do it on my own.

EDSTROM: I do. Well, hey, I've got -- I have a CD for that.

CALLAWAY: But you know, a lot of people don't just go to the pain. They go to the bottle, like the wine or for... EDSTROM: Yes.

CALLAWAY: ...or for a pill. Does that really help? I mean, for some people, it has to be released at least.

EDSTROM: Well, it is. And in my seminars, people say, well, I -- this is what I've done in the past, but I don't want to do that anymore. I -- you know, who wants to have a hangover? Plus if the flight gets canceled, the pill or the alcohol kind of reaches its peak. And then you're sort of crashing internally by the time you get on the plane. And then you get off. And two days of the vacation are missed. So people are not liking that anymore.

And this way, I've had people call this a spa in the sky. You know, I say take a magic carpet ride. The visualization is fabulous. And it really kind of taking an internal vacation, because it's the fear up here that scares us and ruins it for us. And it's up here that can change it for us, talking to the body.

CALLAWAY: Now you said you didn't fly for nine years? I'm out of time, but...



EDSTROM: Yes, nine college in college. Had a bad flight, had to land at a different airport. Got off, said, I'm never doing this again. Stuck to my word for nine years and thought wait a minute, airplanes are not going away. Plus, and this is sort of a punchline, who wants to live with that? It doesn't feel good internally about yourself to know that you're avoiding something in life.

So like the show "Fear Factor" or anything else...

CALLAWAY: You conquered it, all right.

EDSTROM: Going through, yes, exactly.

CALLAWAY: All right, KRS. Thank you very much.

EDSTROM: Thank you so much. Happy flying, everyone and happy holidays.

CALLAWAY: KRS Edstrom, and she's obviously conquered her fear.


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