Thursday, May 8, 2014

Euphoric States of the Bicycling Mind


A feeling like a waterfall of flowers is about to cascade onto me in the bike lane (tilt your head left a little bit)

When riding your bicycle, do you ever experience mental states which you would consider to be meditative, euphoric, or even slightly hallucinatory? A heightened state of awareness? Imagination fueled, mind opened, dreams inflamed, daydreamer on full throttle?

I do. Very often. A few times the results have appeared here: My Flower Things Bike Lane Dream, Be This Gentle, Small Creatures Living Next to Water

Picnic with a fish. God I love that photo. These things swimming in the canals, looking at me. He's looking at you.

Umbrella Me with Otherness, How Full My Head of Useless Thoughts, etc. You get the idea. All, I would say, cycling-induced, velo-enabled, products of a mind thoroughly influenced by a recent bike ride.

Though I understand the casual meaning of the terms, I'm sure a specialist or expert could correct my usage, and give me better terms: meditative, euphoric, slightly hallucinatory. Perhaps there are better ways to express the results.

Years of riding under this tree, particularly on hot days or after a long ride, I always think the same thing: FLOWERS IN YOUR FACE! FLOWERS IN YOUR FACE!!

Truly, I never remember a car drive itself inducing similar states reliably. Maybe I wasn't driving right. Maybe rush hour on the freeway in a traffic jam isn't the right setting for it. Maybe driving my '57 T-bird down the street with the overflowing flowers would make me feel something similar (if I had a '57 T-bird).

The dog seems euphoric. I flashed back to my dog, when I was seven years old, who really loved this.

The bicycling mind would seem to be susceptible to euphoric, meditative, or slightly hallucinatory states. Discuss. Or consider. Or meditate on. Or reflect about. Preferably while humming to yourself in a purple-pinkish flower-burried bike ride dream state.

15 comments:

  1. I find the physicality of cycling creates a relaxed state of awareness - whereas driving a car can lead to stressed lack of awareness. After a pleasant cycling ride I can easily recall the route and what I have seen along the way. When I used to drive a car more frequently I would sometimes be unable to recall leaving one Motorway (freeway) and joining another.

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    1. Yes! I thought over your comment on the ride into work this morning. The physicality is in part the exertion, similar to running, but on a bicycle you have much more latitude to coast, and pace, so that you can match it all to your desired end--from all-out workout, to nice and easy mosey down the shady lane to the coffee shop to read a book. When your desired end is a certain meditative, or reflective, or euphoric, mental state, you can match the ride to you mood and have at it.

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  2. I presume you mean the zen of cycling, much like the euphoric state one achieves while running. Now that I'm in commuting shape my thoughts are beginning once again to flow more freely. Since I'm trying to improve my writing vocabulary it's the part of my day when sentences come easily. Phrases leap out. I'm ecstatic that I can write so well. Now, if I had a means to capture this free thinking I would be thrilled!

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    1. I thought about referring to "alpha waves" but I wouldn't do that unless / until I actually hook up to a biofeedback machine while riding to see if that's accurate or not. I am sure that on some rides, though, I do reach a state very similar to some types of meditation, and also very occasionally experience small hallucinations, or if you prefer, alternative views of what's real and visible compared to what I might normally perceive. Like the "pandas in the rain" incident where a sign (probably a gag) nailed to a pole announcing a lost panda suggested to the freely visualizing part of my brain that I did glimpse a panda loping across the street just around the corner. Very vividly, still a vivid memory.

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  3. Along with the ever-present camera I, some time ago, began carrying a little moleskin notepad and pen when ever I am on the bike. I frequently stop to use them during those dream state occasions.

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    1. I did this for a while, stopping to jot down notes. I admit I'm out of the habit. It's catch 22 for me, I'd stop ten times on each ride...but perhaps It would be worth it. I need to devise a system to keep note pad handy, perhaps attached to the handlebars.

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    2. I keep meaning to get and carry a moleskin or something similar and highly appropriate, but currently subsist on a wad of scrap paper and a Fischer space pen--writes under water! writes upside down! writes in zero G!

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    3. When riding I often think thoughts that I think I ought try to remember for when I get home - but rarely do. I have even thought about using my phone to record my thoughts, but never do. So I too rely on my camera as a memory jog - which can result in some odd pictures.

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    4. I have been known to hook a train of thoughts up to a catchphrase engine, and repeat the engine over and over in my head (or slightly out loud, I'm afraid) until I'm convinced I will be able to recall the catchphrase at the end of the ride and recreate the thought train, at least in spirit. Oftentimes the phrase becomes the title of blog posts here. I try to find photos that match the phrase, or else a phrase that matches the photos. These phrase/titles churn out from the mysterious engine of my mind making my pedals go round and round.

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    5. Would a digital voice recorder work in this situation? I looked at amazon and basic units start at $30 and go up quite a ways. It appears the better ones can be ported to a computer when you get home and software (Dragon?) will transcribe what you said, meaning you can edit in text. Obviously you can record the time from your wristwatch, mile from your cycloputer, GPS from you Garmin. The recorders all look pretty compact and light.

      (My only experience with these was years ago documenting a large IT project and found my mind would lock up when speaking into it.)

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    6. I've known people for whom this has worked, and variations of it--one used a video camera that caught his spontaneous thoughts, and often they made good sense. I believe my camera has the ability to record brief audio to attach to a photo for this purpose, too. It's not a standard format, but could be used to capture thoughts at the moment of the photo, on a ride. When the new Android Wear smart watches come out, perhaps all will be resolved with another gadget. Or I'll just head off into the sunset on my fixie with a pencil and wad of scrap paper.

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    7. I wonder whether you get enslaved by yet another gadget and I speak as a bit of a geek that likes gadgets. My MP3 player will record my voice - but perhaps there is also benefit in having thoughts that waft away with the wind. Some waft back again.

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    8. A real negative of gadget engagement and eventual enslavement is the inhibition of nature-inspired euphoric mental states. I predict the eventual extinction of those states as our gadgets achieve their eventual goal of pervasive invasive engagement with our waking hours. Hey, wait, why stop with waking hours, let's all tweet our dreams out in real time.

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  4. My wife notices a difference in me, when I ride verses when I dont. I sleep better when I do ride. I guess you have to ride alot harder than I do to get a "high" out of it but I will admit to being a happier person. =)

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    1. I notice the difference in me, too, very similar to your symptoms. I like me a lot less when I don't ride every day.

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