Motorcycling as Meditation

Nothing beats getting out on a twisty road for clearing the head.

Nothing beats getting out on a twisty road for clearing the head.

Life has it’s ups and downs for us all, and how we deal with them is different for everyone. The ups pretty much take care of themselves; it is the downs that we sometimes need help with.

Personally I know when I have had a bad day or gotten some bad news I deliberately take a longer more intense way home. Motorcycling is something that takes a lot  of skill to do well and safely. Even riding a motorcycle on a average ride takes much more concentration than driving a car. A ride on a mountain road makes it even more complicated and leaves you with nearly no room in your head for other thoughts. Sometimes this is exactly what you need.

I know I’m not alone as a motorcyclist to use riding as therapy. It’s a common topic in motorcycling circles and over the years I’ve read several things about how riding a motorcycle can force you to think of only riding and brings a certain peace.

To really get close to a meditative mindset while riding it takes a ride that challenges your skills as a rider, otherwise you’ll have time to think about stuff other than what you are doing in the moment. When you first start riding this is easier to do since your skill level is much lower and really any ride is challenging. Once you’ve ridden for a while it takes a more complex ride, something like lane sharing on a commute home in heavy traffic, or more preferable, a tight twisty mountain road.

The focus it takes to ride in situations like those forces you to focus on your riding to the exclusion of everything else. You are only concerned with the now. In psychology  and some philosophies they call doing this sort of thing mindfulness.

“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique” –Oxford Dictionary

While not precisely meditation, since you most likely aren’t reaching the calm brain state that most meditation strives for, it is very effective and can be quite calming. Despite the speed that you are traveling I often find myself very relaxed at the end of a good ride. This is one of the reasons I find riding a twisty road so awesome. You really do leave the world behind as you ride. You are in the now. Only focused on the ribbon of pavement in front of you. Watching the road surface, the vanishing point of the upcoming corner, your speed the throttle, what gear you are in, and everything else that is riding a motorcycle. There are no thoughts of anything else, good and bad; it is all lost in the now, the road, the motorcycle and you.

It is quite rejuvenating, often I have found that this sort of riding is good for gaining perspective on a particular stressful situation.

Maybe this is why there is the saying. “You don’t see motorcycles parked in front of a Therapist’s Office.”


About MotoCynic

I started riding motorcycles in 2006, and there is no going back. I've ridden more than 100,000 miles, most of it on a Ducati Monster, and despite setbacks and murderous BMW's I'm loving every mile.
This entry was posted in Life, Motocycling, Riding and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Motorcycling as Meditation

  1. Pingback: Motorcycle Overload? | Motorcycles and the Cynic

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