Motorbikes & mindfulness
Kick. Rev. Go.
This sequence of words have been as common in my Thailand life as having rice on my plate. Basically, it happens a lot. Everyday I kick start my Honda, I rev the engine and I simply Go.
Anywhere. Many times my bike takes me to work, to eat, and to the nearest 7/11 for my sometimes much needed dose of ice cream. As my friend, my bike takes me anywhere I wish to go. All I have to do is; Kick. Rev. Go.
On my second day in Thailand way back in October 2009, I drove from Chiang Mai to Pai. The drive was around 140km and we were learning as we snaked our way through the countless mountains until finally coming across the little town of Pai.
Pai was cute. Pai was quaint. Pai was unique.
Despite the reservations I had, the words, “never try, never know” pushed me over the edge of reason and persuaded me to jump on a bike. To jump into the unknown. Back then these words meant a lot. Now, they mean everything. They allow you to digest certain fears of the unknown. And and and, if you don’t like what you find out, then you know, you have tried and you can always opt out the next time you are faced with that situation. Innit?
This first experience of roadtripping through Northern Thailand made getting the bus from place to city and city to place never seem the same again. So much so, we began hitch-hiking our way through some of Thailand because buses just seemed mundane, boring, regular and the easy option. So now, if I can, I kick, rev and go.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the art of staying in the moment.
Accepting what is.
Because it is already here.
I was unaware of the term: ‘mindfulness’ until I completed a 10 day Vipasanna meditation retreat and experienced mindfulness to a depth I was unaware I could. As I reflect, I guess I have always been a mindful person without really knowing it. I have always liked to escape the kit makking mind of either what was, or what could be. The ocean had everything I wanted as an escape from the stresses of life and when I lived on both the Isle of Wight and the city of Brighton it was a regular momentary escape for me. Whether wind, rain or sun, the ocean always managed to keep me present. Keep me mindful. In very similar ways to motorbikes, sunsets, sunrises and playing with my fire staff (check here for a viddy). They all make you appreciate the here and now, making every breath seem a little more important than the last. They make you appreciate reality for what it is. The the future doesn’t exist and the past is just a mental construct. Be mindful.
For exactly the same reasons for going to the ocean, I love getting on my motorbike in Thailand and just going. Staying mindful on a motorbike has its benefits for sure. Firstly, being aware of the present will certainly keep you on your tippy toes if any stray dog lacking in Green Cross Code knowledge attempts to cross the road in front of you. Also, you will be much quicker to react to the unpredictability of Songthaews randomly stopping for its pick ups and drop offs. With motorbike mindfulness, a heightened sense of awareness keeps you and your bike in much safer hands and although important, it is not the motivation behind this post.
Instead, mindfulness has so many other reasons why it can benefit the mind, heart and soul. The last several weeks I have been regularly driving from Chiang Mai to Phayao once a week for work. The drive is around 150km Most think I am crazy. Some think I am stupid. I think I am crazy. I think I am stupid. But it makes me feel alive and I love it.
Unlike most modes of transport, you are not strapped in surrounded by a hard shell designed in such a way to keep you alive. Instead, you are this soft tissued human, as vulnerable as a butterfly in the open breeze. As I drive, the constant thought that my body, my soft delicate skin is nothing compared to the rough, hard concrete that has the ability to tear me in two. With riding a motorbike, you have to face the fear of sudden death and when you have this intimately riding with you, you have an overwhelming sense of being alive. As humans, we are mere mortals and accepting this fear, being mindful I am so vulnerable, it makes me appreciate every moment. Every moment my skin changes temperature. Every moment I sense an unknown smell in the air. Every moment I glance at the beautiful rugged Northern countryside. Every moment I take a breath.
Kick. Rev. Go. I am alive.
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