The other week, whilst riding along, I had an ah-ha moment.
You know, the kind of breakthrough that washes over you, basking you with warmth, light, and all good things, making you feel all warm and fuzzy with childlike excitement.
Well, that’s how I experience my own breakthroughs, at least.
I realised that the simple act of riding my scooter was very presence-inducing. Riding a powerful vehicle that requires your total concentration in order to balance on two wheels forces you to concentrate on the matter at hand. It forces you to be aware of your surroundings to ensure you are visible to all other vehicles on the road, and also to be aware of any obstacles in your way that could unsteady your bike—as a matter of life or death. Perhaps it’s a bit morbid, but you could easily cause yourself serious harm, at minimum, if you lapse in being present.
As someone who has always struggled with a monkey mind, yet also struggled to maintain a consistent mindfulness or meditation practice of any kind, I reflected on what other activities cause me to be more present.
But what is it that presence and quieting the mind offer us? Whilst there are many things written about the benefits of presence, mindfulness, and meditation, I had to experience these things in my own way to truly understand what silencing the mind chatter did for me.
A quote I love is:
“The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy, they come when the mind is still, when silence speaks loudest.” ~ Leon Brown
In being free from my thinking mind, I was able to hear my innermost self with a clarity that I hadn’t had before. I began to experience more trust in my intuition—what I inherently knew to be true for me. The calmness I felt with such inner knowing was like nothing else I had experienced before—no second-guessing myself or needing validation from others. This was me—what I needed, what my values and truth were.
Spending time snorkeling in the ocean recently, I was amazed to discover the closest thing to meditation in daily life that I had ever experienced.
Snorkeling requires you to take deep inhalations and exhalations via a mouthpiece—in, out, in, out, in, out—the rhythm a necessity to continue the flow of air to your lungs, giving you life. Deliberate, deep breaths through the mouth are noticeably more calming than typical, shallow nose breathing, seemingly taken for granted on dry land.
Being forced to concentrate on my breath, I realised that snorkeling requires the same actions as meditation. Except, in the case of snorkeling, similar to riding a scooter, lapsing in concentration on the task at hand is potentially life-threatening.
In concentrating on my breath, I was forced to only admire and observe the beautiful inhabitants of the underwater world, letting them pass by without too much thought. I was watching the creatures glide past, much in the way you are taught in meditation to observe your thoughts and let them go. And all the while, I was concentrating on my breath to keep me present.
I recalled a getaway I spent with my childhood best friend—the sort of girlie escape planned in order to unwind, pamper, relax, and recharge with those you can be yourself with. As we explored our weekend abode, we discovered a ping-pong table in the garage “man cave.” Picking up the rackets, we commenced a fun and energetic rally, hitting the small ping-pong ball back and forth across the table.
Having such a small ball to concentrate on, and an equally small racket, I discovered that this was another activity that was very meditative in its requirements.
Playing friendly ping-pong is pure meditation at its core. You have to concentrate on hitting a small ball back and forth across a table with a small bat, trying your hardest not to lapse in rallying over the net. It really is almost impossible to think of anything other than keeping that ball in focus and not dropping it. The rhythmic to and fro is quite relaxing and requires presence, much like meditation.
Once you hit the ball over the net to your rally partner, you must let it go and wait for the next ball to appear—just as we observe and let go of our thoughts in meditation.
So, perhaps the next time you need to quiet your mind and bring about more peace and presence, maybe you don’t need to sit still to do so.
As I have discovered, there are many activities that give us reprieve from our racing thoughts.