Meditation. What an unattainable feeling goal, am I right? For years I was convinced I could never properly meditate, that it was out of my reach with my wandering mind, too serious for someone so prone to goofiness and laughter. The thought of meditation and my lack of concentration towards it made me feel mentally weak, which I know in my heart I am not. It was frustrating to say the least, but it didn’t stop me from trying.
Meditation focuses heavily on breathing and within that internal rhythm, you’re then able to get to the next level of properly clearing thoughts away, slowing everything physically to gain calmness and tranquility in the mind. Brilliant in theory and proven beyond helpful to millions worldwide, yet so foreign and distant from the bustle of our everyday lives. When I yearned for these feelings of tranquility I found a place, public or private but “removed” from people and sat comfortably in a chair or on the ground. This time was reserved for thinking.
I would start by listening to my thoughts themselves, usually random and racing, uncontrollably grim or silly. Within a few minutes, that itself would start to stir up a feeling inside my chest. Once I paid attention to that spark, the physical nature of the meditation came into view. Start really paying attention to your body, the weights and pressures and where they are, how intense they are, your breath, your heart. Scan from your toes and really get in tune with how you’re feeling just for that single moment. Ten minutes and I’d start feeling calmer, more tranquil and aware of how I felt. I’d have the internal level set to continue with my day. Not focusing on others fully before myself, paying close attention to how my body felt, taking time to turn it all off and restart. For me meditation felt almost selfish for a while. It brought to light how often I had put other emotions ahead of my own, which sound glorious in theory, but in the reality of your mental status, it is entirely your mind that should come first.
Breaking apart what meditation did for me and for my PTSD became simple. To classify myself as anything I’d say in the forefront is being a worry wart. A few years back I had “WORRY” and “LESS” tattooed on my feet. Everyday in the shower or on the occasional morning when I pop them out of the covers in a sleepy haze, they bring a smile to my face, but most importantly a reminder to let the inconsistencies and “bad juju” flow through me like a soft breeze. Under the word “WORRY” was a brain; makes sense, the brain worries. Under My right foot and the word “LESS” I have, of course, a motorcycle. I began to wonder why I worried incessantly and what the worries actually were stemming from.
As I’ve mentioned several times I come from a large seven member family and they are all wonderful, in 100% separate ways; together it can become a tad overwhelming. As the baby of the five siblings, many other things come along with the mental status you take into your teens and adult years from your family members themselves. You can essentially absorb their worries, their judgements, their ideals and morals; even morphing into believing in the exact opposite strictly for the act of going against the grain in a small attempt at carving out your identity.
I was living in fear of being judged, therefore not living my life fully. Each odd hobby I’d take on, color I dyed my hair or thing I shaved in it, job I took on became a fad or phase to those in my life. Having an identity doesn’t exist after the forth child, they’ve all done it already or have their own theories on why they didn’t do it themselves. No one will fully understand this but other babies of the family, just as I don’t understand the mindset of the middle or the eldest. When I rode on my Pop’s 1982 Yamaha Virago, my mindset changed. I knew it was something I never wanted out of my life. I would look forward to every opportunity I got to ride on it, I would let my arms hang like windsocks, close my eyes and lay my head back towards the sun. This was when I first fully experienced meditation. This level of meditation was achieved mostly because I was not the one in control of the vessel, I had no worries but the wind. No one could harm me there, no one judged me, nothing was taken from me, I was completely free.
The occasional June bug or stone would interrupt my meditation, but it didn’t matter when I was inside of that bubble, my Pop and I were the only two people on the Earth. As the years passed and I was involved in my own life, my own problems then into college, the rides became less and less frequent. The bike wasn’t working as well as it once did, my Pop didn’t have the time to fix it as often and I was convinced that I didn’t have the time to hang out with him. I rode with friends on occasion, it was always a big deal and I would be waiting, sweaty-palmed and smiling as they pulled up. Then I got to the point where I was riding on friend’s bikes every single day. I’d go to the store just for an excuse to get back on the bike. There was a power in it that I became obsessed with. Then something happened, something snapped inside me and the fear of riding my own bike completely vanished and it blinded out every other thought in my mind until I owned, wrenched and rode my own.
My bank account was emptied to buy this bike, I don’t recommend it, but I don’t regret it for a day, it has changed my life. Those same safe feelings came back, but in a way I could have never even imagined. There is a monumental difference between being on the back of a motorcycle and being the one controlling it. That feeling morphed into something new all together. My mind had become so focused on the road, other driver’s, exit strategies, obstacles, rpms, mphs, leans, turns, stones, traffic patterns, threshold breaking, windy days and everything around me as far as my eyes can see. Those worries slipped into the saddlebags for bit and I was able to focus on something else, something more simple and beautiful.
Vibrations are a large part of motorcycles, they are also a large part of meditation. Feeling your inner vibrations and aligning them are looked at as a key to exploring your way through the “forest of illusion”, which is our lives. The vibrations help us navigate and control our paths, mentally and otherwise. Used as a tool for growth, these vibrations can help us guide right from wrong, enlarge our sense of awareness and become settled inside of our surroundings.
Just like a motorcycle, we have to be align these vibrations to run correctly. Our internal cylinders have to run together, our exhaust has to properly release the toxins, our combustion and compression have to fire and send these energies gracefully and forcefully to the correct areas within us to smoothly operate. I whole-heartedly believe these ideas are interconnected. Constant maintenance of the mind is just like the love needed to put into an old motor. Wrenching on my own, with helpful guidance and patience has helped me wrench on my own mind. The process becomes simplified as you gain the knowledge and progress into properly diagnosing the issues at hand.
Each time I ride I take a full minute, at least, to sit on my bike after I’ve kicked it over (engine, not physically of course) and calm myself to prepare. I ride safer for it and gain the benefits from it that I’ve started to get into here. See if a few extra seconds of meditation before you ride, helps you stay calmer and more alert on your bike and if you find yourself gaining a higher level of satisfaction from your rides.