Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? I have read about it, and I have run in the past but I never achieved such a state. But once in a while I experience complete bliss while riding my bike; my mind releases all of its inner constraints and I am allowed to be myself, to smell the moisture rising from the ground, to hear the wind in the popples, and see the world as it is meant to be seen. My morning ride the other day brought me to the realm and I feel that it may have changed me for the better.
A few months back when I was riding I popped in an earbud and queued up a back episode of Be Here Now from Ram Dass wherein he ends his lecture with a 20 minute meditation session. I set out from my house towards Goose Lake and settled into a gentle pace. The first 5 miles was pavement and the miles just seemed to melt away as Ram Dass discussed Breath and how we are Breath. It reminded me to focus on the preciousness and joy of such a simple thing, breathing. You see, I have been working on my spiritual path over the last few years. I have become obsessed with my earthly role and need to shed those beliefs and values. This obsession has driven me to chase silly shiny new things all of the time which in turn robs me of what it truly means to have a human experience. I have delved into Alan Watts, Ram Dass, and Guru Singh in an attempt to help me grow and learn. I highly recommend listening to works from these three thought-leaders when you are out on a long ride or run; I find that I am particularly receptive to their thought-provoking lectures while riding.
Anyway, as I hit the gravel on the way to Goose Lake I stopped the podcast and let the message sink in. Opening ourselves to other planes of reality on which we also exist. Dropping the “someone special” myths that we have all been tricked into focusing on. This means that we have to develop strategies to get into the mechanics of our minds. Trust me when I say that Ram Dass eloquently guides the listener through this process.
After spinning and ruminating on that message I reached Goose Lake. My intention for the morning was to zip out to the lake to do a mala meditation. This is a pretty normal ride for me; I see Goose Lake all of the time. But today something was different. As I sat and prepared for my meditation I heard the wind in the trees and I was struck with the realization that the wind has always been here. It has jostled through the trees from time immemorial. It struck me as a tangible connection to the prehistoric, the primordial. There is wisdom in that wind if you take the time to listen to it.
After my mala meditation I hopped back on the bike and fired up the podcast for the second half of the lecture which consisted of a semi-guided breath meditation. I have never listened to a guided meditation while on the bike before so I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. The session is very simple, and if you are new to meditation I recommend you try it out. It focuses on your breath; the rhythm, the feelings, slowing down to appreciate it, and above all other things shutting down the noise to be mindful of the simple sensation of breathing. Though simple in substance, I found the impact to be profound while riding. I was riding very familiar sandy two-tracks that I have ridden many many times however, as I focused on my breath I fixed my gaze at a vague point on the horizon and found myself just pedaling away without any thoughts. This was the freest that I have felt in a long time. I let go of so many inner knots and blockages and just rode my freaking bike. Nothing else mattered. I owed that 20 minutes to myself and I know that I emerged a better person. I must admit that this is practice is probably best done in a rural area where you are not subject to motorists, other cyclists, or trail users.
I rambled on for quite some time listening to the subtle cues of Ram Dass and popped back out onto the road shortly after the session ended. I felt renewed and inspired. This was first time that I have meditated on the bike in this fashion but it will not be the last. Ram Dass, Guru Singh, and Alan Watts all share a viewpoint of the world that places significant weight on the power of the individual to change their world and to reach higher planes of thought and existence. Their message has resonated with me lately.
Do you listen to any specific spiritual or inspirational podcasts while riding or running?