#MondayMotivation – Cycling as Meditation

My head is a rather chaotic place.

My brain is constantly switched on, analysing, fretting, questioning. When there’s a lot going on in there, I can’t finish speaking a sentence without starting a new one. I can be manic, jittery, and completely incoherent.

I used to manage this with meditation. Every night I dedicated 15 minutes to slowing down, silencing my thoughts and clearing my mind before going to bed. It used to really help, but these days I just can’t do it anymore. Meditation is a real skill that you need to master, and my mental state just isn’t compatible with it anymore.

But cycling helps to tame the chaos.

A friend recently commented that I’ve become obsessed with cycling – it’s all I talk about, all I do. It’s true. I spend every spare moment looking at bikes, riding them, fixing them, and talking about them…

Heck, not that long ago Adam and I were discussing bottom brackets in bed, and realised we really need to reassess our pillow talk.

My response to this friend was simple: cycling is the only thing that’s keeping me sane right now.

My professional life is in flux. I’ve just resigned from a permanent position and am looking to go freelance while working part-time in a bike shop. I’m getting myself involved in lots of different projects, I’m going to have very little money to live on, and I’m taking a huge leap into the darkness.

On top of this, I’ve had some mental health issues to deal with, and have been struggling to overcome some emotional barriers that can sometimes be crippling.

I’m constantly telling myself I’m not good enough, setting myself impossibly high standards and then branding myself a failure for not meeting them. Dwelling on choices I’ve made in the past, forgetting the right ones and punishing myself for the wrong ones. Constantly telling myself that I’m worthless, that I’m going nowhere. Feeling completely and totally lost. It’s a never-ending stream of abuse, directed inward.

But when I ride my bike, everything goes quiet.

Suddenly, the only thing I need to think about is where I’m going. I just need to keep my wheels turning, keep my centre of gravity balanced, and keep my cadence consistent.

My attention turns to my body: my breathing, my hand positioning, and the speed at which I’m turning the pedals. Going up a hill, all I need to think about is the burning in my legs, the dull ache in my lower back, and the drops of sweat forming on my brow. When I’m descending, I’m concentrating on how I’m positioned on the bike. I feel the rush of the wind past my ears and through my hair, the tears forming as I reach eye-watering speed, and the pounding of my heart.

In traffic, the chaos is external. All I need to do is stay alert, predict others’ actions, and position myself in the safest place on the road.

In quiet country lanes, I can afford myself the time to take in the views, feel the sunshine on my face, breathe in the cleaner air, and notice the wildlife around me.

Cycling gives me the space I need to slow down, internally. Everything becomes a circular motion: my feet on the pedals, the spinning of the wheels, and the loop I carve onto the map as I leave the city and return again later.

So as my life takes a turn in the coming weeks – leaping out of the safety net of permanent full-time employment, into the unknown – cycling will be my therapy. I cannot wait to have more time to spend on my bike, and explore the beauty that our countryside has to offer.

I will have much less money, that’s for sure, but cycling is free, and it’s the kind of happiness you don’t need to buy.

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9 Replies to “#MondayMotivation – Cycling as Meditation”

  1. I think you should try a bit of mindfulness 20 mins quiet time each would not do you any harm ! Have you tried the headspace.com app offers ten sessions for free. Can you do your next post on bottom brackets I keep getting a squeaky one !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment! I have used Headspace before, and I did find it helpful. I also agree mindfulness is a good habit to get into. I will aim to incorporate more of it deliberately into my life, particularly once I’ve gone part-time and have more time to do these things. For now though, I do find cycling is propelling me into mindfulness accidentally, which is a plus!

      Happy to write up something about bottom brackets! Do me a favour, I have a contact page on the blog. Can you send me some details about what problems you’re having, and specifically what you’d like me to cover? I can put something together from that 🙂

      Like

      1. I was only joking about the bottom bracket . But could email you some ideas if you really want to do a post on them?

        Like

  2. Keep doing what you’re doing, pal. You’re strong and you can do things, as you more than proved to yourself (and to me) on our ride last weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good luck with all future endeavours. You are not worthless–I say this because you might take it in better if you see it in print. You don’t know me, but I am not a liar. Please keep this in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are awesome, intelligent, clever, witty and you need to give yourself a break. You are brave, strong, talented and more brilliant than the brightest star…so you’ve lost your pathway in life, at least you’re aware of it, which means you will pick it up again,,,when you know what you want,,,when you know where you want to be,,,so you left a permanent job, for now, it’s only temporary and just like cycling you will soon be back on track, spinning your wheels and burning rubber and squeezing your brakes…because you can…because you are you…because you are one amazing individual who happens to be doing more with her life than she gives herself credit for!

    Liked by 1 person

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