PTSD comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging in intensity and triggered by many factors and effects us all differently. Most of the time when you hear PTSD, you think of war veterans and extreme causes of trauma, however those are not the only causes. Many people experience PTSD around the world and it’s far more common than you think.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be caused by any trauma one experiences or visualizing the trauma of another. Those reeling feelings, the sleepless nights, countless health issues mentally and physically that follow can become grueling and make simple life tasks seemingly impossible for those who experience them. Eliminating opportunities to work, enter new relationships or maintain a social balance to regain the normalcy of their lives.
There are many groups that have helped veterans regain their lives by reentering life on two wheels. The Motorcycle Relief Project is one that instantly comes to mind, but there are many more branches available to help guide new riders or regroup old riders to use this therapy in their everyday lives and give them a chance to regain the normalcy that they’ve lost. Some refer to it as “wind therapy”, which personally I like the idea of because those effected highly by auditory flash backs and racing thoughts, benefit heavily from this aspect of motorcycle riding.
In a small scaled outlook, simplify what motorcycle riding is to the rider. When you’re operating a motorcycle there is a huge amount of focus required, this alone will start to show the benefits of this form of therapy. The amount of balanced motions and multitasking takes a large portion of your mind and focus out of the gate. Motorcycles are certainly dangerous and require a huge amount of focus, not just to insure you’re riding safely, but to focus on those around you who are more likely to be the cause of an accidents that can follow. It is true when people say that no one can see you on a motorcycle. You don’t actually become invisible of course, however even a nod from a fellow driver, never insures that they’ve seen you and are in tune with your next actions.
There is a term that I really dig called “wind riders” that refers to riders who are unobstructed by sounds, like music, headphones, other auditory distractions. This is my way of riding because just like it sounds, you’re riding with nothing but the sounds of the wind and the other noises around you. When riding in beautiful and desolate areas, these sounds can vary with wildlife, terrain, other traffic, yet the benefits of the wind have touched me even on city streets. Personally, it became a time when my thoughts were shut off so to speak. The structures around me, the traffic patterns, obstructions in the road, these are obvious things that do not erase from my mind, but they become my main and only focus. Staying alive and not obstructing the ride for others, the goals in my mind every time I ride. Even something as simple as being in tune with your speed when entering an oncoming curve can turn your mental focus from the grueling effects of PTSD into a simple idea, apexes or speed control. For those minutes you’ve essentially “freed your mind” into another structured zone.
A key for me personally, has been to ride everyday that I can. Working six days a week, without a 24 hour period that I’m actually off of work, wears on your mind not to mention physically on your body. Even if it’s just a quick rip down by the water or even just to grab a coffee, everyday holds multiple opportunities for me to ride, pending of course on weather conditions in your specific area. It is the time in my day where my heart is free and my mind is healthy.
There is definite logic when they say “don’t ride mad” or “don’t ride with emotion”. Emotions will certainly effect how you ride and it is key to try and settle those, even just by a minute or two of sitting calmly on your bike before getting ready to ride. It will save your life from rash decision making you may be more prone to rush towards and will help you reap the benefits of a meditative ride.