Cycling and mindfulness are the perfect tandem for exploring new paths of personal knowledge while on two wheels. It’s not enough anymore to just play sports and escape from our routines, there’s something else to be taken into account: mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Well, it’s a technique that involves being present in body and soul in everything you do.
Put plainly, it means enjoying the present moment and making the most of every day.
Being attentive and observant.
It also means being kind to yourself and your emotions and not letting yourself get trapped by overthinking or worrying about the future.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help you feel calmer, happier, and more controlled. It helps you deal with difficult feelings and relax when you’re stressed.
In short, it helps you cope better with life’s difficulties.
If you’d like to learn a bit more about it and how to combine cycling and mindfulness, stay with us and read on.
How to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life
The world of mindfulness is growing exponentially and more and more people in different fields are rediscovering the benefits of the practice.
Its purpose is to control those negative emotions and thoughts that can harass us without warning at any time of the day and throw us off balance.
It requires some dedication, but once achieved, it can be applied in environments as different as on the train, while cooking, while working, or even, and this is what we’re talking about today, while riding a bike.
What do you need to do to start practising mindfulness?
Start by focusing on your breathing. How does your breath enter and leave your body? Notice if there is any tension in your chest or stomach, or if the air feels cold or hot when it enters your nose.
You may notice that your breathing changes naturally over time: sometimes you breathe quickly, other times you breathe slowly, you may notice that your breathing becomes shallow when you’re stressed.
It’s about taking a few minutes to notice how it has altered so you can balance it again.
A good way to start practising mindfulness is through meditation. Sit comfortably with your back straight and close your eyes or gently look down to a point in front of you. Let thoughts come in and out of your consciousness without judging them.
In order to get away from negative or distressing thoughts, think of your favourite place or try to visualise yourself in a situation where you felt really happy. Once there, remember how you felt at the time and try to bring that positive emotion to the present.
The power of food
They say that the stomach is like a brain and, therefore, good or bad digestion can alter our emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness tells us to eat little by little and savour the taste and texture of food. It also tells us that the thoughts that we entertain while we eat are very important. Mindfulness teaching recommends that we focus the mind at this time, it advises against watching the news or reading work reports during meals.
Knowing how to contract and relax groups of muscles in the face, abdomen, arms and hands can help us become aware of our body and begin to listen to it.
We should consider the possibility that many of the bodily pains we suffer are caused by our own emotions.
Trying a relaxation exercise before going to bed will help you practice and apply it at other times of the day when you may need it.
How does cycling affect your mood?
Cycling is a wonderful way to stay fit, escape the daily routine and feel happier.
Research shows that regular cycling can increase happiness by up to 63%, thanks to greater exposure to sunlight and contact with the outdoors.
Pressure, traffic and pollution affect our lives in many ways, but what does the most damage, especially in cities, is something we are all familiar with: stress.
When we are at the limit of our ability, we fail to meet deadlines at work, and suffer from insomnia and episodes of anxiety or dietary imbalances.
We simply can’t do it any more.
That’s why cycling helps us give a more human, sustainable and fun dimension to our lives.
In addition, in terms of health, cycling helps to reduce blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and, therefore, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
When we cycle, we release endorphins and dopamine, the so-called happiness hormones.
Whether you cycle to work or go for a ride in the mountains once in a while, you will feel stronger emotionally and better able to face life’s challenges with a more positive outlook.
What are the benefits of combining cycling and mindfulness?
We’ve already learned about the benefits of cycling and mindfulness separately and now it’s time to see how we can combine them so that all five of our senses are invigorated.
In her article on www.sportlife.es, Patrícia Ramírez, a specialist in sports psychology, says that mindfulness:
“Increases concentration, improves attention and regulates emotions.
These are all key aspects for improving sports performance.
It consists of getting all our attention directed to a single focus:
whatever you’re doing now, be it running, swimming, jumping or playing football.”
If we are to extract a keyword from Patricia’s explanation it would be focus.
Cycling and mindfulness means that while cycling we focus on aspects such as the way we cycle, our breathing, or the tension in our arms and hands as we grip the handlebars.
We should also focus on the route, the sensations we feel and on enjoying the scenery.
It won’t do us any good to take a mountain biking tour if we’re thinking or talking about our personal or work problems all the time.
What’s more, we can even get injured or have an accident if our thoughts are not where they should be.
Mindfulness applied to cycling means that every time our mind wanders, we have to be conscious of it and be able to retrieve it and bring it back to the here and now.
That way, we can give our full attention to what we are doing, and we will be able to fully enjoy and absorb all its benefits.
What, then, will be the results of combining cycling and mindfulness?
Given everything we’ve mentioned, they’re sure to be good.
There’s no doubt about it. Whether it’s the physical activity itself or the mindful way in which you approach it.
The combination of cycling and mindfulness guarantees total disconnection from the distracting thoughts that pass through your mind all the time.
With a bit of practice, this time spent on mental cleansing and enjoyment will result in better control of stress, anxiety and even physical pain, which could be the cause of many of the cramps we suffer throughout the year.
Are you ready to practice bikefullness?