10 Best Tips for Mindful Cycling
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been a huge part of the wellness trends that have seeped into the mainstream and with that brings some preconceptions about it. It can be perceived as a bit obscure, abstract and exotic with intangible benefits. Many people want practical solutions and often the thought of mindfulness and meditation seems dauntingly impractical.
However, mindfulness is very basic. It’s the fundamental ability to be wholly present. It's an awareness of the present moment; where you are and what you’re doing without attaching or reacting to anything. This ability is something that all humans already possess, it’s just a case of practice!
Ben Tipton, a qualified teacher of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) talks about how this looks when you’re cycling, referring to it as a state of ‘flow’. “When you can let go of your ego—thinking I’m good or I’m bad—when you’re having fun but you’re still in control, that’s flow,”.
Is mindfulness the same as meditation?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation yes, many people see it as a more practical way of meditating – with mindfulness practice, anything can be a form of meditation if you’re completely present. An activity that involves you moving your body is even better to help get you out of your head where the thoughts about the past and the future lie, and into your body where you can be fully in the present moment.
How can I be more mindful when cycling?
The best part about mindfulness on a whole is that you don’t need to change and anyone can do it. With cycling it’s all about getting into a state of flow but learning how to get into a state of flow on a regular basis can take time. So, to begin with, its best to try a mindful ride every so often to cultivate your mindfulness practice.
Here’s some top tips on finding your flow on the bike:
- Set an intention for your ride
Setting an intention before you ride e.g. My intention today is to calm my thoughts OR my intention today is to feel more energised. This helps you understand what you want to get out and it takes you back to why you wanted to do it in the first place. If there’s ever a moment where you lose trust that you can do it, take yourself back to this intention.
- Ride somewhere away from traffic or potential danger
It's important to ensure you're safe whilst riding but also to ensure your practice doesn't get interrupted by lots of distractions on the road. Somewhere in nature is the best kind of place for cycling mindfully.
- Take 10 deep breaths
Taking 10 deep breaths before you begin or at a point where you’re struggling can significantly lower the heart rate, calm you down and enhance your focus. Focusing on your breath for this amount of time is one of the best ways to quickly connect to the present moment.
- Observe your thoughts
This can be slightly trickier but it’s a great way to detach from everything else except the present moment. When you become aware of your thoughts, you see that most of them are about the past, the future or things outside of yourself. The trick is to notice your thoughts and detach from them. They’re neither good nor bad they’re just thoughts that come and go and you are the observer watching them pass by.
- Stop the judgement
Like Ben Tipton said, judgement is all from the ego. Thinking about whether you’re good or bad at cycling is your own ego. Detaching from this can be very liberating. Who decides what's good or bad? Do you actually care if you're good or bad if you're happy?
- Stop, get off and take a look around
Doing this, particularly after an effort, is a great way to cement a sense of achievement. It allows you to have the space to appreciate what you’ve just done. We are constantly thinking about the next thing and taking heed in simple ways like this gives us the opportunity to be present with our achievements.
- Take a picture of a view you love
Appreciate where you are right now. Taking a picture can mark a moment of gratitude.
- Connect to your senses
Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This is a great way to focus on all your different senses one by one. It allows you to get out of your head and into your body. The more consciously aware of our bodies we are, the more we aren’t residing in our heads. This is a great thing to practice on a regular basis and can reduce anxiety as well as overthinking.
- Aim for peace
Although the process of mindfulness is all about the journey, many people struggle without knowing the destination. Sometimes it can help to just aim for peace, whatever happens on the ride. Do the next peaceful thing.
- Don’t get disheartened
Mindfulness and meditation is just like learning to ride a bike. It can be difficult to get the hang of to begin with and it can be frustrating enough to just give up. The more you practice and persevere, the easier it gets. You didn’t give up learning to ride and look how that’s worked out for you, imagine if you didn’t give up on this too.
There are lots of resources out there to help you with your mindfulness practice and we are more than happy to help. If you want some recommendations or help with this then drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . We would love to hear from you!