Climbing on my bike for a ride isn’t just about the exercise. Sure, I need the sweaty, sustained increased heart rate to make my body healthy and to prepare for the races I do, but that’s only the superficial benefit. Taking a bike ride, I get away, see my life, my work, my problems from a different perspective — largely I’m not thinking about them, at least not directly.
You know how people often say they have their best ideas while in the shower? Being on the bike is the same thing for me. While my mind and body occupied with pedaling, shifting gears ,and watching out for traffic, another part – the creative part of my mind – is free to roam.
A few years ago, I learned from my pranayama (breath practice) teacher Linda Oshins the yogic practice of Drishti, which is both the practice of focusing in and the practice of witnessing the world expansively. (I explored this concept with the help of some guest bloggers – and beloved friends – in a series on this blog. Dive in here.)
Here’s one way I practice this, often when I’m on a bike ride: I’ll stop on a bridge or the top of a hill, somewhere where I can see a wide area around me. I soften my gaze so that I can see the whole picture. I try not to let my eyes dart to the next bird or cloud or car that moves within my sight. I just take it all in and pause for a moment. At first, it kind of hurts my eyes to look this way. If you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t tried doing this since you were a kid — laying in the grass and staring up at the night sky.
This drishti/panorama notion is a complimentary paradox — the more grounded and connected you are physically, the more expansively you connect to Consciousness. In the Christian tradition, in which I am also rooted, it is the theology of the Incarnation — that the expansiveness of God could become fully wedded to a human body in the form of Jesus.
It is in the stepping away to see the big picture that we most often gain the most focus. This is why we have practices like meditating, riding a bike, taking a walk, looking at the sky panoramically — it enables us to see creative solutions, to get hold of our higher purpose, feel into our most cherished values. While we see things big, you can start seeing how we might focus our more clearly — responding best to our purpose, our calling, our values. We no longer get distracted by the next thing, we are able to stay focused on what we know to be our purpose.
Join my next online retreat to take a step back and refocus on YOUR next steps. Begins July 13, 2020. Discounts available for those who are unemployed and underemployed. Learn more here.