During the winter months, the Boulder Cycling club retreats to the warmth and comfort of the Rally Spinning class. There Heidi, our instructor, takes us through drills: sprints, climbs, down hill descents—watch the bear coming down Old Stage. During some of these less inspiring grinds, Heidi asks us to visualize climbing up Lee Hill or sprinting to catch a group in front. If you give yourself over to the idea, the tedium of spinning indoors is lifted and your mind’s eye plays the scene in front of you: the sharp left up Lee Hill, the rises along Nelson until the drop down 63rd, the glimpse of other riders in the distance as you reel them in(to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever reeled anything in).
During the break, I’ve been reading up on mindfulness, meditation, the practice of using different techniques for dealing with destructive thoughts, a fly-away mind or real physical pain. What I’ve gotten from it is that through practice I can learn to quiet the mind, approach irritability, envy—all these destructive emotions with ways that defuse or manage those feelings in a more constructive manner.
Last night, the readings I’ve been doing this past week came to me while spinning. Visualizing climbing up Lee Hill is not too far removed from looking at an event that annoys me from the perspective of mindfulness, both require focus and training. I’m sure I’m reaching here but to me it felt like I was calling upon similar techniques. In these books, meditation does sound different but perhaps in practice it is not so different than being absorbed in painting or music. After all, if new neurons are created by masters of painting or athletics and meditation then there must be some connection.
Mindfulness and spinning, winter’s strange bedfellows.
Books: Happiness, Matthieu Richard