I really love the concept of mindfulness but I often struggle to do it. Mindfulness to me is about focusing on the present moment, instead of dwelling on the past or fixating on future events. It’s about being present, even if it’s not something that brings you pleasure.
Mindfulness and cycling go hand-in-hand and here’s why you should practice it while riding:
It will keep you safe
Being mindful while you’re riding a bike ensures that you are aware of potential hazards along the way. Depending on where you ride the hazards could be potholes, rubbish/glass on the road or bike-path, or even pedestrians. If you ride on the road like I do, then the hazards are often cars, so you need to be aware of what drivers are doing and expect them to be unpredictable, and at times erratic. If you’re daydreaming about other things then you’re not focusing on the present moment and keeping yourself safe.
You’ll enjoy the things around you
I love that saying ‘stop and smell the roses’, and it’s something that I try to do both literally and figuratively. When you ride a bike you get to experience things around you that you wouldn’t see, smell or hear in a car, or other mode of transport. If you are focused on the present then you’ll notice beautiful scenery, and also smaller everyday things like friendly people and changes in your neighbourhood.
You’ll enjoy the company of friends
Being mindful is certainly easier when you’re alone because you can focus on your surroundings and yourself, but you can also practice mindfulness in the company of others. When you are riding with companions it is a great time to speak to them about their lives and really listen to what they have to say. You’ll be surprised how people will open up to you, and share things they probably wouldn’t if you met them at a party. There’s something magical about riding along that brings out more inner thoughts in a lot of people.
You’ll make the most of your exercise session
This one applies when you are on your own or riding with a group. If your mind is focused elsewhere you are more likely just to drift along without putting in a huge physical effort. If you really focus on pushing yourself physically even if it’s in short intervals you’ll be getting a better workout than if you just keep turning over the pedals.
You’ll be grateful
Being mindful also makes you more grateful for being alive and healthy. You are unlikely to feel sorry for yourself and wish you were somewhere else, particularly if you focus on the present moment. I am grateful that I found the fantastic pursuit of riding a bike even if it took me until my middle age to get there. I am grateful that I’m healthy and happy, and I live in a fantastic country where I can ride my bike wherever and whenever I want. Mindfulness helps me to be grateful.
While I was undertaking a little research for this post I came across an interesting man called Ben Irvine who has written a book called Einstein & The Art of Mindful Cycling: Achieving Balance in the Modern World (Mindfulness). I’ve bought the book and put it on my Ipad for future reading. Ben himself explains the concept here.