The other night I was having a conversation with my sister-in-law. We’d just watched Tom Hanks in ‘Hologram for a king’, a film that whiles away an hour and a half, but fails to make the impact it shoots for (watch ‘Lost in Translation’ to see this type of movie done well). The sense of mid-life crisis and finding oneself led to a conversation about ‘mindfulness’. Of late, a little bit of me cringes every time I hear the phrase. I suppose we have to call it something.
Now this is not the cynicism you might expect. It’s not a ‘don’t give me all that new age mumbo-jumbo’ sensibility. It’s perhaps the reverse of that. In the Western world we struggle with this stuff. We find it hard to buy into a concept unless its pre-packaged, boxed and available in a variety of colours.
Which all rather misses the point.
I tried to explain what it meant to me and failed miserably. The wine didn’t help. If you’re tripping over your thoughts internally and mumbling your words externally, you’ll struggle to hold an audience. So I closed my eyes. Mindfulness is…….
Tracing the path of a Buzzard’s wing through a woodland canopy.
Watching sunlight dapple across the Mediterranean.
Feeling icy rain turn to snowflake on a silent New Zealand trail.
Sensing changes in the surface of a crumbling country lane.
The common theme of all these? Sensations experienced on a bike. Some on road, some off. Often miles from anywhere, occasionally close to home. But always (always) on my own and bringing a feeling of welcome calm (a calm that is not easy to find in our smart phone controlled uber busy lives).
This is not to say that books, courses or guidance don’t have their place. A steer can provide some motivation. But to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness, you don’t really have to look too far (or spend too much). It doesn’t necessitate a concept, a container or a schedule. It doesn’t need a Hollywood movie to prompt you, nor a set of instructions to walk you through it, step by step. All it requires is receptiveness, observation, awareness and bit of head space. So don’t bother trying too hard or looking too far. Just go ride.
Top image: Mindfulness for the West.
Bottom image: used previously but sums it up well. Bird in flight, Penylan. Spotted on the bike.