Slow down and notice the gila monster!

These days much of my insights are coming when I am on the bike. For me, this is moving meditation, especially when I am mountain biking. I am completely engaged in what I am doing in the moment. There is value in this presence and focused awareness, much like when I practice mindfulness of breath or sound or a mantra, but I was reminded of another way to look at it the other day.

I was on a ride and passed by this woman who was pausing on the trail. Further along the path, I ended up stopping to stretch my back and she rolled up a few seconds later and said, “Did you see that gila monster on the trail?! I had not…in fact, I had been super focused on not getting caught by her, ha! I was totally immersed in my self-imposed game of winning that I had missed something that would have rivaled any 1st place prize that day.

I likened this moment of awareness to how I sometimes move though life unconscious of HOW I am doing it. Now if you’ve ever mountain biked on trails that have rocks, roots and downed trees, you know that you need to focus and be totally present with what you are doing, and those competitive juices start flowing! There is nothing wrong with riding like that, but I realize there are some days when I arrive at the trail and I’m not as intense or ‘into it’ as I need to be, and these are the days when I wreck or don’t enjoy it as much.

Going forward, perhaps I could consciously choose to respond to these days in a new way? Just like this woman unknowingly reminded me on the trail, there is another way to ride. One of the main reasons we moved to Tucson was to connect with nature, so maybe I could take the cues from my body that day and enjoy my ride in another way? Instead of making myself ride with the intensity that I am clearly lacking that day, I can slow down, look around, take in everything that surrounds me, and actually put this learning into practice. This seems much more in alignment with living mindfully where I pay attention to what is happening in THIS moment, and let it be just as it is rather than making it into something else.

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