Improved focus, pain and fear management, resilience, stress reduction, restful sleep and emotional balance…sound good? These are just some of the benefits of MEDITATION.
After reading that intro, it’ll come as no surprise that meditation plays an important role in the lives of professional cyclists and can play an important role in yours too. Meditation is for everyone and it’s more accessible than you might think. It might even make your time on the bike that bit richer and more fulfilling. If that’s possible!
Simply put, my daily meditation practice makes each ride more fun. Who doesn’t want that? When you spend hours on your bike it’s easy to check out, get lost in your mind and be taken anywhere other than the present moment. Especially if you ride solo a lot, like I do. The benefits of meditation help me stay present and focused, I keep up my cadence and stay in tune with my heart rate - I don’t ride with technology that does that for me, call me old fashioned!
Here are a few reasons why every cyclist, whether a pro, weekend warrior or something in between, should consider introducing meditation to his/her daily rituals.
FOCUS: Focus keeps your head in the game. A regular meditation practice trains you to control your thoughts, so they don’t control you.
PAIN MANAGEMENT: You’re a cyclist, so you’re familiar with complaining about aches and pains. There’s always a niggle somewhere! A regular meditation practice will allow you to shift your thoughts away from the discomfort, to manage your pain so it doesn’t affect your performance.
CONTROL FEAR: Dreaded fear. We all live with it in one way or another but what if you could manage that voice, tell it to be quiet so it doesn’t throw you off balance and cause you to misjudge or make mistakes? Meditation has been shown to help calm the fear center of the brain known as the amygdala, long after you’ve finished the practice.
RESILLIENCE: The greatest athletes in the world are the most resilient because let’s face it, you don’t get anywhere in this life without a few falls on the way. It’s those that get back up that are the winners. Meditation helps you detach yourself from the negative thoughts that keep you from achieving your goals.
REDUCES STRESS: Cyclists pride themselves on the ability to cope well in high stress environments. But let’s be honest, for most of us it’s a hobby, one that maintains good health and wellbeing, physically and emotionally. There’s enough stress in everyday life without it creeping into play time! Meditation can be used as a tool to prevent your body from being under any stress at all. Yes please!
STABALIZE EMOTIONS: Often on the bike we have to deal with a roller coaster of emotions from uphill struggle, fatigue and unpredictable weather. Studies have shown people with a regular meditation practice are better able to stabilize their emotions, which in turn allows them to better control their moods. You might coax your partner to join you after all!
AIDS BETTER SLEEP: We all know the value of a good night’s sleep, especially when the alarm goes off for an early morning ride. Meditation has been proven to aid better sleep, so no more dragging those pedals.
In conclusion, going for a ride can be mundane, a daily exercise routine. Or it can be a beautiful experience. Meditation allows a more present, fulfilled life in every way. When we are fully present on the saddle, focused and calm, the time is so much richer. You notice the breeze on your face, the scenery all around and you cherish every moment (even those up hills, believe it not!) It brings out your sense of adventure and you find the courage and ambition to test your limits and discover new, more challenging routes.
Regardless if your cycling goal is to win your first race, complete a 100 mile ride, climb that pass you’ve always dreamt about, or to simply get back on your bike after some time off, meditation can help you achieve your goals. It’s no longer a buzzword, MEDITATION it’s the way to a richer, fuller, happier you.
3 STEPS TO GETTING STARTED
Plan a time every day you can stick to and set a reminder on your phone
Start small with 5 minutes and gradually build up to 10, 15 and finally 20minutes a day
Commit to 3 times a week to begin with and then introduce a 4th and eventually a 6th day
NOW, as good a time as any…
Sit on a chair with your sit bones on the edge and your back as straight as is comfortable without overarching. Set a soft eye gaze at about 45 degrees in front of you. Focus on your natural breath, is it shallow or deep? In your chest or your belly? Simply notice, don’t try to change anything. Scan your body from the top of your head to your feet, noticing any aches, sensations or feelings without judgement. Don’t try to change anything. Begin to count your breaths. Once you get to 10, start again from the beginning. When you notice yourself daydreaming, which will happen, allow those thoughts to pass and bring your awareness back to the breathe and begin counting again.
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