I really love the concept of mindfulness, and as my regular readers know, I really love cycling, so to me, mindfulness and cycling go together beautifully. Mindfulness 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. And as much as I love the concept of mindfulness, I’m not always good at it. So here’s why mindfulness and cycling go hand-in-hand, and this is why you should practice it while riding:
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. You get to go places you wouldn't ordinarily go. 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 neighborhood or trails. When I was riding on Sunday I noticed a beautiful bird call, so instead of fixating on the fatigue I was feeling, I focused on enjoying my surroundings.
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 whenever I want. Mindfulness helps me to be grateful every day.
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. I find that men particularly like to speak frankly when they are riding, and this is partly because they are relaxed, and not making direct eye contact with you.
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.
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, trail obstacles, or even pedestrians. If you ride on the road , 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.
Take a moment to remind yourself how to be mindful. It may change your next ride from a good one to a great one.