Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meditating Whle Riding

What a great addition to my life bicycle commuting has become. I haven't quite got some of the logistics worked out into a little easier method, but it's getting there. As I said a couple weeks ago after starting this habit, that it is a great way of both starting and ending the work day. The possibilities for new things to be seen and heard, new smells, the changes in the ride from day to day- they all make it an experience in mindfulness and meditation.

 Dr. Amit Sood, author of Training Your Brain, Engage Your Heart, Transform Your Life made a comment to a group of s a few weeks ago. Many of us in 21st Century United States have a difficult time doing "sitting" meditation. We are not necessarily made that way. Of course we can train to do so; many of us can and do show that. But that isn't the only way to become mindful and experience meditation.

Since hearing that from Dr. Sood, I have started utilizing some of my bike riding as a means of cultivating my mindfulness and meditative practices.

The first time was a few weeks ago on my long weekend ride. I started out with a significant uphill challenge as a strength and endurance building. As I struggled up the last part of the hill I heard myself telling me to head over to the Douglas Trail, a former rail bed without significant hills, to do some "mindful biking."

So I did. The ride on the trail took on a different rhythm and feel. It was a first.

Then last week I was heading home after work and realized that I was really working a lot harder than I had on other rides on the same trail by the river. Oh- there was a head wind. I got home and said to my wife, "Mindful riding is a lot more difficult with a headwind!"

Which was only partly true. What happened was that I had to switch what I was being mindful of. Suddenly my body was more important to monitor. I was exerting more. I had to pay attention to my switching gears to keep from exhausting myself. I had to watch the pace and really pay attention to my breathing. The mindfulness moved from the stuff around me to the stuff within me.

Then on another morning I left home knowing there was a chance of rain before I got to work. I wanted to ride; I didn't want the rain to keep me from it. (That's one of the logistics I'm still working on.) So I headed down the street toward the river watching the clouds, feeling the breeze, pedaling at a decent pace.

Heading down the river I found myself preoccupied with the weather. Will I make it? I rushed on. Then, just as I got to one of the bridges I ride under, the sound of pigeon wings taking off grabbed me. It broke through and I looked up in time to see the bird heading away from me and the trail.

I didn't realize the sound of one bird flying could be that loud.

It brought me back, mindful, of what was happening. Always something new or different to experience. How can one get bored in such a changing and diverse world?

No, I didn't quite make it ahead of the rain. But it was close.

I then had the pleasure of a tail wind on the way home in the afternoon that made up for the morning.

I am actually finding myself expectant each evening to what might be found on the ride the next day. A turtle on the side? New flowers blooming? The trash left on a spit of land by careless people fishing? Children swimming in the creek near the confluence with the river?

But always the pedaling and the water; the feel of the rolling wheels and rhythm of my legs and body moving forward.

1 comment:

Remigius said...

"What a great addition to my life bicycle commuting has become." Awesome, Barry! Don't be afraid of the rain - though I do suggest getting good gear, and not riding in dangerous slop with ice... I love these reflections.