Can you meditate on the bike?
When Chloe Smith approached me about writing an article about mindfulness I wondered what mindfulness, or meditation, had to do with cycling. Surely once you’re meditating you’re increasing your risk of running off the road or falling off, or even worse. And is it even possible?
But I was quite happy to find out exactly how she thought mindfulness would combine well with cycling, so was happy for her to write the article.
Here’s the article, courtesy of Chloe Smith.
What do meditation and cycling have in common? When you meditate, you focus your attention on certain things on purpose, or in other words, you are mindful in every moment. Cycling can be a perfect moment to do this, and more than just good for the environment, your physical health and a social activity.
When you cycle, you have to be fully aware of your surroundings. What you can do is take this to a whole new level by meditating on your thoughts, and therefore boosting your emotional and mental health and strength. This mental exercise is particularly great if you are over 40, and need a way to relieve all that stress.
In this article we are going to discuss how you can channel your thoughts in order to get the best out of your cycling experience in terms of mindfulness.
Begin with paying attention to your bike
Before you jump on your bike and head towards your destination, do some thorough examination of it, in order to prepare yourself for the upcoming thought process. Check the tires to see if the pressure is right, and make sure that there isn’t any problematic wear on them that could affect your ride. Put your hand on the frame and glide over it, checking for any cracks. Now look at the chain. Check if it’s well in order, oiled, and clean. Test whether your brakes are working fine by spinning the wheels and squeezing the levers.
Your bike is in fine condition. But what about you? Take some time to think about how you are feeling. Can you feel that energy and excitement for the ride that is ahead of you? Are you nervous? Take some time to think about all that’s running through your head.
Get ready for the ride
When you have examined your bike and your thoughts, it’s time to do a little exercise. The idea is to get your blood flowing and wake your body and brain up for the process that is coming up. Do some side stretches, hamstring stretches, spine exercises, and movements that open up your hips, to prepare your body for cycling, and also do a forward fold to get the blood and oxygen to the brain.
Now it’s time for the final step before heading out for your ride. Take a little pause and focus on your breathing. While taking deep breaths, visualize an enjoyable and safe ride, and smile. This way, your body’s chemistry will react in a positive manner.
The ride itself
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and connected with your bike and the world around you. While you’re cycling, you should move in harmony. Focus on the sense of flow that’s going through you while you’re going through your surroundings, be it a street full of traffic or a peaceful country road. Be mindful of every pedal stroke that you are making, and synchronised with your bike in an active rather than a passive manner. Be aware of your body – the way that your leg muscles are working to produce the flow. Think about how simply your bike is boosting your movements through the world.
Breathing is of essence. If you pay attention to your general activities, you will probably notice the shallowness of your breath, and pauses in breathing. This happens because our mind is somewhere else. As you ride your bike through your surroundings, remind yourself to take deep, slow breaths. This is particularly important when you are going over terrain that poses a challenge or in heavy traffic. It’s the perfect way to calm yourself down, and feel good about you are doing, no matter the circumstances.
Developing healthy thought habits while cycling
This is a great opportunity to develop healthy thought habits. You’re often in a tough position when you’re cycling -in danger from cars around you, having to keep the pedestrians in mind. This can inevitably bring you to producing defensive thoughts. What you should do is allow yourself to empathize with the people all around you. Send positive thoughts to everyone, even if they don’t seem to be acting in a positive manner themselves. Don’t let negative emotions build up when, for example, a car cuts you off. This can prove to be a challenge, but you’ll see that once you start thinking this way, it will become natural to you in time.
The connection between the body and the mind
If you’re riding your bike through traffic, you need to be present all the time. You can’t allow yourself to linger on a car that you just crossed the road by, because the next moment is already here, and something else seeks your attention. Each and every one of those moments is new in its own way, and your mind needs to be awake and receive everything while working in harmony with your body to build that flow through the world. If this mind-body connection is constantly focused on the present, then there’s no need to worry yourself about the past or the future. The moment right now is what matters, and it is when you are aware that everything is alright, and that you can feel peace. Remember to take deep breaths and let your mind sink into the world.
When you have reached the state of calmness, you can become fully aware of sense impressions. Feel the wind against your face, the air temperature, the sun on your skin, and fully embrace the space around you. This way you can also notice when your body becomes tense when overcoming certain obstacles, so you can adjust it and relax again. At this moment, the world is yours.
Meditation is a perfect way to practice mindfulness when cycling and if you are over 40, this is the perfect way to improve both your physical and mental health. It’s all about practicing to purposely focus your attention. It creates a connection between the body and the mind, and enables you to focus on everything. Be fully present when cycling and you will also feel a lot safer, knowing everything that’s happening in the world around you.
Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast, business consultant at Reef E Bikes and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She combined her passion of cycling with business, and now she can cycle around the world carefree.