click here to read part 1
In embracing my beginner’s mind while educating myself on being a serious bike commuter, one of the most comprehensive areas of focus for me has been in being mindful of my body.
My posture affects my performance, and my recovery afterwards, as well as my overall well-being. Setting up the bike correctly minimized the stress on my back, wrists, thighs, and calf muscles. Being mindful of my breathing is important, just like I learned in Buddhist meditation. Focusing on my breathing, my concentration improves, and I ride more efficiently. I don’t degrade my riding experience by thinking too much about how long the ride is taking, how much my leg muscles are burning, or wishing there weren’t so many steep hills in Grand Rapids.
It is fortunate for me to be growing in this new direction in my life at this time. My wife Jewly is also in a renewed state of beginner’s mind. Having been a real estate agent and salesperson her whole career, she has stepped out of her comfort zone and is currently going to school to learn massage therapy and other holistic healing techniques. As she has been learning these advanced techniques, she has a willing participant at home to practice on. She has a real world opportunity to apply what she is currently learning, as well as the chance to take real problems encountered (I am having an issue with my right shoulder that requires some serious work) back to the classroom to get some insight into what the best course of action is.
All of this direct experience with massage therapy has been educational for me. I was never exposed to it previously, and simply thought that my sore leg muscles would rebound eventually… that my neck/shoulder issue would work itself out. I didn’t realize the extent of my issues. Through the course of the treatments that Jewly has been conducting on me I have learned that it isn’t just simply a sore shoulder joint I am suffering from. I have multiple layers of muscles and inter-connective tissues that have to be manipulated one layer at a time if I am to effectively address the sources of my pain. The points at which my muscles and tendons connect to my bones, how the muscles relate to each other, how they work together all affects how I am experiencing pain. Now I am regularly working with Jewly to alleviate the pain I am feeling. With her teaching me about what is actually going on inside my body I have been able to visualize my internal anatomy and practice mindfulness in regards to how my posture and physical activities can help or harm the health of my shoulder. With just a few simple changes in thinking and behavior I have improved dramatically. I cannot imagine where I would be without this crucial change of behavior.
As a bicyclist, my legs are the other major physical barrier I am wrestling with. I recently discovered how good it feels to have the IT bands of the thigh muscles stretched. Starting at the upper thigh (underneath where your pant pockets are) and going along the outside edges of the legs before wrapping around the front along both sides of the knees, the IT band is one of the workhorses of the biker’s anatomy. After a long ride they are pretty sore and ready for some TLC. I have also learned how painful adhesions can be. Adhesions are basically soft interconnecting layers of muscle tissues becoming stiffer, less flexible, creating a ton of irritation and pain until you’ve gently worked them out. When you work the muscles too hard, and for too long, you traumatize them. Adhesions are kind of like a scar tissue forming in between the muscle layers, which is your body’s way of healing the damage that you’ve just done.
Embracing all of the new things I have learned in regards to biking and my physical reactions to the work I am doing has been a powerful experience for me. I am seeing the benefits of using my body more effectively as a result of understanding how the muscular anatomy functions. I am using some basic Buddhist visualization techniques to maintain mindfulness in regards to how my body works, how it heals itself, and how I can help (or at least not hurt) the process. I am getting better about maintaining better posture while biking, and at my desk at work (which is a major source of my shoulder pain).
By cultivating beginner’s mind, I have been able to educate myself on taking direct actions that enhance my overall health and well-being. Developing a better understanding of the body-mind connection and the benefits of therapeutic massage is having a dramatic positive effect on my life. As a result of being aware that I have much to learn, and by not being limited by my own negative conditioning, I am healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally, and continue to make progress on a regular basis.
click here to read part 1
- Weekend Warriors – Enhancing Performance with Massage and Bodywork (hofholistichealingcenters.wordpress.com)
- Benefits of Massage Therapy (hamiltonhealthandwellness.wordpress.com)
- Biking, Buddhism, and the Body-Mind Connection; PART 1 Beginner’s Mind and Eliminating Obstacles to Success (analogmutant.wordpress.com)