How to Use Your 5 Senses to Be Mindful on the Bike
Even though it's tossed around as a buzz word, being mindful isn't just a fad - it's a way of living your life to the absolute fullest. And because bikes are a big part of your life, there's no reason we can't combine the two!
Our five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) are how we absorb the world around us. Not only that, it's our senses (plus our experiences and thoughts) that help us shape our reaction towards it, which is why they're crucial in achieving mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a valuable skill to have, but it can be a challenging and elusive goal to reach. Our lives are full of sensory overload, so overcoming all of that and being in a "present" state is a great feat. Honing mindfulness requires deliberate practice and deep understanding of the processes that intertwine your external and internal experiences: your five senses.
What's Sensory Overload?
Sensory overload is the result of an over-stimulation from our surroundings. Whether it's the computer or phone, calls, emails, fast food, loud cars or city smells - various stimuli fight for our attention daily.
When those stimuli have adverse effects on our psyche, it's harder for us to stay focused on the present. The mind fleets in the search for a relaxing place, and we seem distracted, uninterested, or downright lazy.
This blog is focused on how to use your 5 senses to cultivate mindfulness on the bike.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
We spend most of our waking hours staring at bright screens, whether it's a computer, smartphone, or television. Sight is by far the sense that receives the most stimuli. We engage our eyes with street ads, artificial lights, or colorful structures which may excite or inspire us. Nevertheless, your eyes need to rest and recharge to be able to pay attention better.
When you're on the bike, take some time in the day, preferably a few hours before sleep, to enjoy dim lights or darkness of the space you're in. The simplicity of shapes and colors under such conditions relaxes your mind, and you will feel as though you can see the quietness around you.
The Sweet Soundscape
Nowadays, more often than not, we try to block out the external buzz with a pair of noise-canceling headphones that play our favorite tunes and sounds. Although this is often beneficial for deep concentration, you'd also want to learn how to appreciate the natural sounds around you.
Try finding exciting murmurs in the soundscape of the bustling city, or captivating patterns in the banging of your kitchen appliances. Once you control the perception of the noise, you will manage to distinguish every sound and enjoy them among your daily cacophony.
The Power of Touch
Is there anything warmer or more pleasant than an embrace of a loved one or your pet's fur beneath your fingers? Petting a cat or dog will lower your stress levels while hugging your partner or friend will release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. The positive feelings you get while engaging in these fulfilling activities are priceless, and the more you are relaxed and happy, the easier it will be to enjoy the present moment.
Smell The Roses
We often use scented candles and air fresheners to fill our indoor spaces with artificial fumes that may smell pleasantly, but wreak havoc on our bodies. Scented candles are usually made with paraffin wax that acts as an indoor pollutant when burned. On the other hand, air fresheners are a mix of many scent chemicals, some of which may be harmful when frequently inhaled. Still, if you want your place to be filled with pleasant smells, plant some flowers that will be able to thrive in your home. Alternatively, invest in a diffuser, and some high-quality essential oils. With a quick search online, you can find different types of oils that will positively stimulate specific parts of your body. Keeping the indoor air clean and healthy is vital for achieving the state of mindfulness.
If you frequently eat processed food, you're most likely familiar with long and complicated ingredient lists. Or you may be avoiding reading it altogether from the fear of finding out about all the harmful substances that enter your body. Refined sugar, excess sodium, and different additives dull out the taste buds and make us addicted to highs which eating such food offer. To counteract that, eat organic locally-grown fruits and veggies and pay attention to the subtle sweetness or bitterness that you may not have noticed before. Organic and non-processed foods are one of your greatest allies when embarking on a mindfulness journey as the gut and brain are connected as much as brain and sense of taste.
Let us know which sense have you learned to exercise in your mindfulness practice and in what way has it benefited you.