I came across this mantra a while back and it was one of those “yeah, that’s true, ha ha” kind of meme that abounds on the internet. But looking at it a little deeper and knowing what an OCD anxious never off brain does; it really is true. Pedaling and bikes have become my meditation.
Having a brain that’s never off means it only has two modes of “functioning”; anxious and really anxious. I try to keep it busy and calm reading a lot and over analyzing everything. It’s kind of why I come across as a pedantic know it all, it’s just how I know to keep this brain quietish. It’s hard to have quiet brain off time, I totally envy my fiancé she can just close her eyes and sleep. I can’t, I’m still thinking, I constantly find myself dreaming about my problems and trying to solve them in my dreams. That’s when I know something has me super stressed.
So, miles became my meditation
It wasn’t this big Hollywood golden light moment where I became this enlightened being. No, it just sort of came after lots and lots of rides. I have this mindset now of stress, grab bike, ride, come back tired and smiling and with some semblance of a plan to solve the problem.
I learned to let my brain loose on climbs and to reel it back and focus on descents. That’s my secret and my current solution until I can afford therapy. Long dirt road climbs, fire roads, double wide trail; these long pedal efforts don’t require my full attention, so I let my mind wander. I go thru a list of topics on any climb: what’s bugging me, what I want, what I need, daydream, etcetera. Everything and anything goes though wise. Just that as soon as I start to descend, all of this stops.
Descent = Silence = Meditation
That’s what I have come to love about mountain biking, I have found an activity where I am able to shut off my anxious brain even if for just minutes at a time. Just minutes of awesome brain repairing silence (aka meditation). How did I achieve this silence? By falling, a lot. I kept thinking, my mind wandering elsewhere while descending and that’s just a recipe for a crash. I didn’t want to fall anymore, I wanted to keep riding the whole way down.
So I started focusing on the trail ahead, paying attention, and focus on the path, the rocks, the drops, what’s directly underneath me and what’s coming up. I let my eyes take over the information overload and my brain focuses on interpreting all of this information fast. Eyes can’t talk, so I just drone out in silence, hearing the forest and my bike bouncing around it. That right there is the biggest joy I can ever get riding my bike silence and focus, pure bliss and enjoyment. It may only last as long as a descent lasts, but that’s all I need to be happy. In a weird way, I managed to do some meditation while descending.
Find your quiet place and ride it, meditate and you’ll always come back better than when you started. Even if it’s just a minute of meditation and silence, it’s still a minute more than zero.