The Mindfulness of Motorcycling
When it comes to mindful practice, a common refrain is “I haven’t got enough time…where will I fit it into my busy life?”. This was something that concerned me during my 8 week mindfulness training course. However, over the last couple of years I’ve discovered the secret to regular mindfulness practice. No matter how frantic it gets, everyday life is full of opportunities to find a moment of peace and calm.
Mindfulness on the road
Recently I was riding my motorbike and enjoying the countryside with my husband and friend. I was struck by how peaceful and completely centred the experience of being on my bike is. Bikers often describe how they are “connected” to the bike or “part of” it. After over 20 years riding this experience suddenly became very real for me.
You see, when you ride a motorbike, you must focus and pay attention to the present moment, even more so than in a car. I say this as someone who also loves driving – but I admit there are many times where I drift off mentally when driving, thinking about the past or the future, and often not 100% engaged with the driving experience. However, with a motorbike it’s almost impossible to do that without serious consequences.
Whilst riding my bike I was acutely aware of the breeze passing my face under my visor. The smells of the trees and fields as I rode past, and the quality of the light through the tree canopies that reached over the road. The sounds of the engine and gear changes were distinct, giving me useful feedback. I could also feel, almost immediately, when my body tensed up, sure sign that I was not paying adequate attention to the bends and sweeps ahead of me. An old motorcycle instructor of mine always used to say keep your arms floppy when riding so you can feel tiny movements in the bike and appreciate the quality (or not!) of the road. Having momentary awareness of stiffness in my arms allowed me to remedy this, almost subconsciously.
Mindfulness can bring such clarity to an experience. Even one which seems routine and everyday. It’s almost like turning the tuning dial on a radio or turning up the volume. Suddenly we notice individual sounds, where previously there was simply a ‘sea’ of noise.
So next time you feel it is a chore to practice ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ – consider the simple, everyday activities that can be done mindfully and give you that opportunity to connect. Your morning coffee brewing. Feeling the breeze on your face as you cycle to work. Noticing individual noises in the cacophony of sound on your commute. The body language of your colleagues as you wish them good morning. Perhaps you’re a biker like me and you can truly engage in your next journey. There are opportunities for mindfulness all around us.
How do you make mindfulness part of your everyday? Share your thoughts below!