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Journaling With Your Bike

Honor the writing. Honor the silence. Honor your life stories and you will be fine.

--Christina Baldwin

Here's a meditation for you to consider when you have something that is bugging you — a problem of some sort. It combines riding your bike and writing in a journal.

Here's how you start: you begin by writing out what is bothering you in your journal. Get it all out on paper. Your mind is busy, but your body is basically still. Then, pack up your journal in your pannier or bike bag, and get on your bike. Don't forget a pen!

While riding, use the basic bicycling meditation until you are relaxed and open. It is very likely that your problem is going to come up while you ride. There's lots of ways it could come up: a conversation gets replayed in your head or a feeling wells up inside. What you do when this happens is, you say to yourself, "Oh. There's that bunch of thoughts (or feelings) again." Acknowledge that they exist, and then return to your pedaling or your breathing as a focus. Don't try to force the thoughts or feelings away, or greet them with anger or frustration. They are just what they are, thoughts or feelings. So just recognize them, and then let them go, and return to your body moving rhythmically and naturally on your bicycle. Now your body is moving, and you are aware of the movement, but your mind is basically still.

writing diary

Finally, you reach a place where you will be comfortable sitting and writing for a while. If it's a sunny day, maybe it's a shady picnic table at a park. If it's a cold day, it might be inside a cozy coffeehouse, with a steaming mug at your side. For me, it's helpful not to be at home or at work — somehow being away from all the normal distractions helps me get a better perspective.

Pull out your journal, and re-read what you wrote before. Now you're ready to write again. I find it very helpful to write a focus phrase that will indicate that I am ready for a deeper perspective. An example could be, "I am now available to receive my own fuller visions" or, "I am available now. I receive gifts of direction from my Greater [or "Higher"] Self." Another one could be, "I am your Guardian Angel, and I would like you to know..."

Then, write about your problem or your situation again. Maybe you now have a different viewpoint than when you started riding; maybe not. Your body is now basically still, but your mind is back, working. Write until you feel you are done writing. Then put the journal away.

Get back on the bike, and resume a cycling meditation, again using pedaling or your breath as a focus. Again, the issue you wrote about may come up again. That's okay — again, acknowledge it, and let it go, and return to your focus. Your body is moving, your mind returns to stillness.

diary

When you get home, if you want, pull out the journal for the final time, read the previous entries, put down your focus phrase, and then write. Your mind again is working; your body is quiet and still. See if your perspective is the same, or has changed, over the miles.

Adding in seated meditation

If you also have a seated meditation practice, you can add that in. What works well for me is to have seated meditation follow bicycling, so the sequence would be: write, ride, sit; write, ride, sit; write. Other people might like to always have the seated meditation precede their writing -- these people would probably order it this way: sit, write, ride; sit, write, ride; sit and then write. Play with it and see what works for you.

One of the problems for those who would mix seated meditation with bicycling is how to work it so you can sit in meditation in public. You may be undisturbed in a rural or unpopulated setting, but for those of us who live in urban areas, finding a place to sit may be difficult. You can write in a diner or coffeehouse, but it's harder to meditate in these places. One possibility is using a public or university library — you probably won't be disturbed in a quiet study carrel. Another possibility is using public transportation — you can load your bike in many North American cities on the bus, and sit quietly on board and be left alone.