Oh, what a day… what a lovely day-
(an area of) farm track/road/footpath/bridleway etc. which consists of potholes, loose paving, stones, rubble, and mud.
You may plainly perceive the traitor through his mask; he is well-known everywhere in his true colors; his rolling eyes and his honeyed tones impose only on those who do not know him-
Why am I waking up this morning?
The answer is, hopefully, not because I have to or I should, but rather … I have a sense of purpose and direction for this wonderful day.
Being able to adapt well to a myriad of challenges, to be able to bounce back from a period of difficult times, requires me to have a sense of direction in my life and a belief that I am acting in a way that is consistent with my true personal values.
Biking is about rhythm and flow. It’s the wind in you face and the challenge of hammering up along a hill. It’s the reward at the top and the thrill of a high-speed descent. Biking lets you come alive in both body and spirit. After awhile the bike disappears beneath you and you feel as if you’re suspended in midair-
Flipping through some old photo albums while spring cleaning our spare bedroom – yes digital aged kids, photo albums! I stumbled upon a picture of myself thirteen years ago. In the background is my beloved mountain bike, a Cannondale “F” something or another, the same bike I ride while walking our beagle after dinner. Looking at the picture I recall that frustrating, exhilarating process that is learning to enjoy riding after suffering though a series of injuries. I needed a lot of help back then and still do to this very day. Sprinkle in a ton of support and patience from others to get me to this point in life – Close family and friends, caring but rigid doctors, rehab therapist, yoga teachers, open-minded “folks” who listened to my quibbles – All helped me
walk ride a path towards “whatever” I suppose.
A bright cloudless summer day in Upstate New York; my patient father watching me taking my first solo ride on my battle torn BMX bike, as I wobbled and bobbled right, then left, trying to find that savory spot of – Balance.
I was deathly afraid of falling on the asphalt hill in front of our house. So I would try riding into the grass when I started to lose my balance. It would hurt less if I fell in the lush green grass, right? Shortly after an early morning shower, I got my seven year old legs pumping away as fast as I could coming down from the top of the hill. Rain splatter streaming from the front tire onto the down tube as I picked up speed, as I neared the intersection at the bottom of the slick hill, the handle bars started to shake, and I lost control trying to make it over and through the inviting lawn to my right. I promptly keeled over and slid along the greasy asphalt for what seemed like an eternity and smacked hard into the raised curb, completely missing the grass. Crying with road rash down the left side of my body, bleeding knees and elbows … I limped to sit on the curb to gather myself.
A few days later I was pedaling my bike in varying circles at the top of this very same hill. Suddenly, a moment of unbridled bliss washed over me, I felt myself balancing, not shaking, not thinking about the newly formed scabs irritating my skin as I effortlessly pedaled. I was being, I was riding my bike without a worry in the world!
Not much has changed over the years, there will be lots of falls, bruised knees, bleeding elbows still to come. But eventually there is – Balance. It may be very small and fleeting, although it will happen.
I realize today that nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself-
Early this past Friday morning while driving to work, an event occurred that made me question everything in life.
Mindfulness and Awareness are a journey, not a destination, not something to achieve, not the latest “trend” to trick you into signing up for a months worth of yoga classes, and since mindfulness and awareness are deeply personal, I will humbly, and reluctantly share with you the events that enveloped my recent experience. An experience that has both failed me, and helped me tremendously.
Typically, I commute to work via bicycle. I wake early, reheat a cup of black coffee I make the night prior for a minute or so in the microwave and ease into my riding gear, gently and peacefully. This was not the case last Friday. For you see, I was in a rush, I was outside of my body, I was aware of my actions but not mindful of them. The usual list of things come to mind – Work, riding more, building a new bike, helping friends and family, trying to practice yoga twice a day, spending more time abusing myself than nurturing my spirit. Slowing down does not come naturally to me. I once had an old riding buddy (he was old and had legs like tree trunks …) in England say to me, “slow down to go fast mate” and I got it at the time. It’s the proverbial Aesop’s Fable the story of ‘The Tortoise & the Hare’, the tortoise won by going slower. Faster only gets you to your destination quicker – Driving to a noon yoga class while at work, instead of riding my bike to work and practicing at Halleck Park when the sun rises. Driving to work so I can pick up and drop off some bike parts a day ahead of schedule instead of just waiting for the weekend. By practicing to go slower, I become mindful of the world around me, and I pay more attention … I actually arrive exactly where I want to be, with more awareness. Instead of a steamy car wash bay, spraying the putrid, burning flesh of a deer from the underside of my car.
All of this sounds so simple, although in practice, its much harder.
So where does this leave me? I believe I need to reflect and review my actions with intention – Do my words and actions really align? My feelings really are indicators of my true spirit. When I am feeling incredibly frustrated with life, unsupported and angry? I need to pause, and take better care of my own emotional well-being. My thoughts truly create the world I call home. Being mindful of how I think is essential to my place in this comforting world at times.
Actions, feelings and thoughts that convey encouraging messages, that leave me feeling content and with a smile on my face, are at the heart of living mindfully.