To most people, cycling is merely a method of transportation. It’s a way to get from Point A to Point B when using traditional vehicles or walking is not an option.
However, to experienced riders, cycling is much more than that. It’s an experience that can provide countless mental and spiritual benefits. Whether you choose to ride throughout established city roadways or in the calm serenity of a winding mountain trail, you can use the time to learn and meditate while connecting with the world around you.
Meditation and Focus
The goal of meditation is to be totally present in the moment. While it might sound like an easy task, people are always inundated with thoughts. With every menial task you complete, from cooking dinner to sleeping, your mind is going a hundred miles an hour. You may be thinking about all the things you have to do in your daily life or something that’s weighing heavy on your heart.
Unfortunately, this process can make you forget about the beauty of the world. Instead of appreciating what surrounds you, you’re overwhelmed with anger or anxiety.
When you’re cycling, you can’t afford to let that inner dialogue take over. Even if you’re exhausted from cycling up a steep heel, you have to be present in the moment to stay safe.
You have to anticipate what traffic is doing, be aware of the actions of pedestrians, take a look ahead at the trail ahead of you, and pay attention to the obstacles in front of you.
All of this is done while you’re going through the familiar motions to propel you forward. While it may not be the conventional image of meditating in a quiet space, it’s a form of meditation nonetheless.
The very second you let emotions take over or get distracted by thought, you’re putting yourself at risk. There’s no time to indulge in road rage or strong internal emotions. Instead, you have to stay focused completely on your surroundings. Your thoughts and emotions have to be clear.
New emotions that may arise while your ride, such as anger from a distracted driver or frustration from difficult obstacles, have to be like water off a duck’s back. They have to simply slip away and be let go.
Pain and Endurance
One of the most important things you can learn from cycling is the process of pain, endurance, and reward. Think about rides you’ve taken in the past. It’s not uncommon to stick with easy trails, especially for new riders.
Have you ever looked at a menacing hill and opted to go for an easier trail to save you the frustration and pain?
Let’s face it: going up hills isn’t fun. You have to put in a ton of work just to move a few yards. Your legs will hurt, you’ll be out of breath, and you’ll want to give up halfway through. But what happens when you reach the top?
The top of the hill is the payoff. It’s your opportunity to take in the view and glide gracefully down the slope to the next hill.
Every cyclist feels that sense of accomplishment when they reach that crest. The sense of accomplishment comes from overcoming your gut instinct to stop. You were able to work through the pain, exhaustion, and inner dialogue telling you to just turn around.
Before your ride, both the incline and decline are in perfect balance. What comes up must go down. But it’s that hard work to get up the hill that makes you go further. You have to find the inspiration and drive to keep going.
This process of going up and down hills is the perfect allegory for life. Every battle has an end and you can only enjoy the good moments once you’ve gone through the bad.
hen you make it through, you get to reap the benefits. It’s part of the human experience to be grateful for the joy after the suffering. While people often choose to avoid the pain altogether, in life and in cycling, they never get to truly experience the beauty of the ride. This is why cyclists choose to go for the advanced trail filled with ups and downs. There’s no joy and value in a smooth ride with no bumps in the road.
Connection to the World
People can live in the same city or town their entire life without truly knowing their surroundings. It’s because we navigate the world full of protection and safety. While it’s definitely important to cycle with all the appropriate safety gear, you’re still unprotected compared to traditional forms of transportation.
You’re not encased in a giant box of metal. Instead, you’re open to the world and vulnerable to weather, hazards, and so much more. With that being said, this openness lets you see your surroundings as they truly are.
You can appreciate the little things, like the smell of flowers as your speed by, the way the different types of terrain differ or connect, the regular routines of critters you may encounter, and so much more.
If you live in a big city, you’ll have the opportunity to see how different streets and neighbors intermingle to create your home. Before you know it, you’ll be a master navigator that knows much more about the city than just where Main Street is.
Beyond that, cycling lets you explore places that most don’t get to see. Untouched nature that most people don’t even realize is there. Through exploration, you get to create new experiences and create memories that will undoubtedly lead to further connections with people that call the same place home.
Sure, you can explore and learn about the world without a bike. However, that focus and meditation you’re doing as you ride puts you in the best mindset to truly appreciate what you’re seeing and learning.
Over to You
All in all, there’s a lot to gain from cycling. It’s so much more than a hobby or a cost-effective form of transportation. For many seasoned riders and newbies alike, cycling is a spiritual journey that can provide benefits to every facet of their life.
No matter what religion you practice, cycling can help you achieve a deep connection with your spirituality. It’s a journey that can help to improve your attitude, outlook, and character for years to come