Stranger in the Next Seat

I was sitting in a plane just a short while ago, travelling from Singapore to London. A gentleman beside me and his wife had been flying on the same aircraft from Sydney when I joinedthem. For many of you, sitting next to someone in a plane is no big deal, and for the most part, it’s the same for me. However, whenever something becomes familiar and automatic, it then becomes the realm of the subconscious mind, which, once again, becomes my focus. Whether it is on a plane, a train, or a bus, we share our space with others. How we spend our time around or with others is an interesting function of the subconscious mind, with its many contributors…


What is coincidence? Is it that they were the only couple with whom I had spoken at length at the other end of another terminal buying orchids hours earlier? Was it that I had just been given a beautiful and heavy book of Singapore aerial views from the 1960s and he was an Australian pilot working in Singapore during that same time and could recognize the skyline in the pages of the book? Is it a one in a million bisect of two people and their interest or intentions? I don’t know what that official definition is, but I’ve been working with ‘freaky’ coincidences even more regularly since I got into hypnosis and I believe it is because that’s the way the subconscious mind works. Through association. The deeper part of our subconscious is highly linked and networked and is always looking for something that is ‘like’ something else, so that it can gather together disparate bits of information and cluster them in ways that feel more familiar. Because it is the patterning part of the mind, it likes to find recurring patterns that fit into the weave we call life.

We often believe that things ‘come about’ in an awesome and unexplainable way. Which is nice sometimes. Looking at it from the powerful subconscious’ perspective, it’s a little more basic than that. Our minds grasp little pieces of information without our awareness. The flash of the BA flight ticket might be one. Had my seat neighbor been into regional fabrics our conversation would have taken us to the silk on my flight pillow, or something else that would have been picked up as a talking point by someone who wanted to make a conversation.

Planes passing in the sky

When do we connect with others? I have been on planes and slept from runway to landing, without so much as a word to my travelling companions. At other times conversations and connections abound. To make conversation, I need to be open and looking to others to start one. Yet, just as it is with the process of change through hypnosis, I’m only half of the equation. The other person has to also want to participate in an exchange. Our subconscious mind does a multitude of calculations before we even present ourselves for a chat. Is the person safe? What might I be able to chat about other than the delay in flight? Is that enough?… The subconscious, being the self protective part of the mind makes sure it’s ok to talk to someone else (yes, we do get it wrong sometimes).

It also has to do with the messages that we got when we were more open and able to talk to anyone – as I’ve seen with some little kids. We are taught lessons about our socialization or silence, whether or not we should be chatting people up because they might like it, or restraining ourselves so that we don’t bother anyone. It doesn’t really matter what the other person might be thinking or feeling because we’ve already put our personal story on the potential situation long before it has a chance to unfold.

Some are Stranger than others…

Sometimes the internal messages to hold back are just the right ones. I’ve sometimes overridden a gut sense to stay away from conversing with several people (not the gentleman I was writing about earlier). That leaves me in the unfortunate situation of interacting with someone whom I’m not well suited to interact with, which can make for an uncomfortable flight. Yet sometimes I need to push myself into speaking with someone across the aisle and it becomes an unexpected pleasure. Sure, we’re all ‘strange’ as in different from each other, as in not as familiar as our nearest and dearest, yet we can feel gratitude to our subconscious mind again for working like a little powerhouse to help up connect with others through questions, peripheral noticing, and ‘coincidences’!

So whether you’re lounging in first class, or squeezed in the centre in economy, there may be someone in your section with whom you can make a connection and conversation that might just make your flight.

Bon voyage.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *