Cycling Mindfulness

Decent Essays
Cycling, Mindfulness, and Top-line Behavior

In many Twelve-Step Addiction Recovery programs, a regular regimen of aerobic exercise is considered to be a Top Line behavior. In this article, I’ll discuss the relationship between a common aerobic activity—cycling—and a more esoteric concept—mindfulness—and describe how I incorporate mindful cycling into my addiction recovery program.

Exercise and Recovery
In the last decade, researchers have demonstrated a direct, positive connection between aerobic exercise and alcohol and substance abuse relapse prevention. In their March 2009 article “Aerobic Exercise for Alcohol Recovery: Rationale, Program Description, and Preliminary Findings” published in Behavior Modification (Vol.33 No.2) Brown, et
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It’s difficult to describe, but I’ll try: there’s a wonderful sense of simultaneous stillness and motion, of action and observation, of intention and reflection, which perfectly mirrors the type of mental state required by mindful meditation practices. Mindful meditation asks the mind to be both subject and object at the same time—to be both the doer and the watcher in the same moment. When I set off on my ride, within ten to fifteen minutes, my legs find their natural pace, my breathing finds its natural time signature, and my mind, soothed by the repetitive nature of the activity, finds…show more content…
I’m in my rhythm; I’m in my zone. I’m going downhill, pretty fast. I look at my handlebars—they’re perfectly still. Beneath my tires, the ground speeds by in a black asphalt blur. Beside me, trees, bushes, and flowers stream by, a seamless whole, the colors an unbroken flow. There’s constant motion everywhere, yet I am completely still. Yes, my legs move, and yes, I breathe. I turn my head, I adjust my hands, but in relation to the ground, the things around me, the trees, the flowers, the street— I sit in the middle of it all, calm, peaceful, and observing.

Finally, I am the moon. I am my bike. The world spins around me, by me, and beneath me, but I am at the center and I do not move. I am undisturbed. I watch the ripples until they disappear. I savor this moment as long as I can. I’m there—I’m the doer and the watcher, the subject and the object—living in the glorious chaos of the moment without being swept away and consumed by it.

I bring this lesson home with me, back to my life. No matter what happens, I can be in both places. I can be the doer and the watcher. I can be in my life, and I can see my life. This realization has been an enormous help in my continued recovery. It helps me stay calm when stressed, and helps me keep perspective when perspective would be so easy to lose. It’s one of my strongest tools against relapse: the mindful practice of a Top Line
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