I know, some of you are thinking I’ve gone all “happy valley” with this topic. Hang in here with me a bit. I am not the first to think something meditative happens when I ride my bike, but let me share my experience.
Our professional and personal lives are crammed with insatiable demands, shifting priorities, and seemingly endless information overload. The internet is wonderful and cool. I can look up anything anytime.
I remember encyclopedias, dictionaries, and reference books. My “Physicians’ Desk Reference,” a fat, red book , came every year with new drug information. I haven’t seen one in over a decade. All this new immediate information can now pound at me from all directions all the time. E-mail, voice mail, texts, tweets, memos, meetings, books, chores, shopping, kids, parents, household repairs: yikes, what do I do first?
How do you cope with overload and the associated stress? I exercise and meditate. Other activities help, such as going out to dinner and unwinding over a glass of wine, enjoying good food, and spending time with my wife and friends. And once a year I disappear into the woods for 4 or 5 days with no ‘devices,’ and I move to a different rhythm. I get up when the sun wakes me through the tent walls, eat when I’m hungry, hike or paddle or both all day, go to sleep after the sun sets and my tired body tells me it’s time. I sleep better on the forest floor than in my own bed.
Six years ago I started bicycling. After 40 years of running, my orthopedist repaired a second ‘ground up’ meniscus and said, “it’s time to find a new way of exercising.”
Reluctantly, I bought a road bike. Some combination of running withdrawal and stubbornness led me to whine and complain about all kinds of things: “cycling takes too long;” “it’s a hassle getting all the stuff together;” “I get numb in all kinds of weird places.” Then after a while I got it. Cycling is fun. I can compete against myself and ride the same route faster. And now it’s getting meditative.
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