ZEN TIP TUESDAY #22
A big welcome to Sophia Hope, our next guest poster for the ZTT series. Sophia shares her love of a bicycle ride in the mornings and how it could be the perfect start to your day too! You can read more of Sophia’s writings at the links in her bio at the end of the post.
If you’re joining us for ZTT Link-Up #020, welcome and I look forward to reading your post! This is the last ZTT Link-Up. Thank you to those of you who have joined in and supported the link up since it began.
The Art of Incorporating Zen Into Everyday Practices
As we begin to mature and our to-do list grows in size, we often lose track of our health and how we move throughout each day. When faced with this reality most people turn towards the gym or a workout studio to kick themselves back into shape. This behavior, although beneficial for our well being, can sometimes slowly become something that we dread and ultimately avoid. After the feeling of disappointment with ourselves has washed away we may find ourselves questioning why this happened. Am I a lazy person? Did I do something wrong? Why can’t I seem to commit to the goals and ambitions that I’ve created for myself? If you’re tired of struggling with these issues, you may want to consider an alternative means of getting in shape and rejuvenating your mind!
Begin With the End In Mind
It’s important that we understand that 80% of our day is dictated by how we start the early morning hours while others are still sleeping. If you’re one of those people that roll out of bed twenty minutes prior to an engagement, you’ll know how valuable your time is. Most of us are guilty of wasting those precious minutes, hitting the snooze button, lying in bed or even checking social media apps to get things rolling before the rest of the world wakes up.
Instead of following this pattern, we need to begin building the discipline of building our mind as soon as we arise. Everything that challenges you throughout the day subtracts a small piece of mental stamina that you’ve accumulated through your sleep. By the time we clock out of work and head home, we have no remaining energy to do the things we’re passionate about.
On the topic of building the mind, we need to cultivate a calm and collected sense of well-being in which to fuel our ambition. Luckily for us, researchers have discovered that the practice of Zen meditation not only acts as a spiritual anchor, it builds our mental faculties to a significant degree. A study released by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health showcased that practitioners that regularly performed meditation were able to lower their blood pressure, regulate their sleep, reduce anxiety and improve their focus in day-to-day activities.
The key is to start small: don’t overcommit yourself to strenuous periods of meditation that last for hours. Instead, commit that you will implement the practice for small, five-minute intervals performed three times per week. Once this foundation has been built, we can begin to expand our Zen endeavours and start to notice spiritual and mental growth.
Results Without Judgement
For most people, the thought of practicing Zen comes equipped with spiritual baggage that discourages individuals from continuing their efforts. While many practitioners may find joy in the esoteric underpinnings, we can begin our regimen with a simple bike ride performed in the morning as a means of exercise. For many practitioners, this offers an extensive array of health benefits that include improved cardiovascular health, increased endurance, lower heart rate and a sense of calm.
For readers that may be unsure on how to implement Zen mindfulness in their morning bike ride, it’s essential to note that the act of being present is the main focal point. Bring your awareness to how the wind feels moving across your legs and arms as you begin to pedal down the road. If you notice that your mind begins to wander and dwell on small details in regards to your upcoming day, simply bring the mind back to the sensation of the wind moving across your skin. Never judge or criticise yourself for having the thoughts and emotions that arise during your bike ride — it’s perfectly natural and an integral part of being human.
If this causes too much resistance, bring your focal point to the breath leaving and entering your body. Feel the smooth, relaxed sensation as the lungs begin to fill with replenishing oxygen that fuels your system. Again, your mind will inevitably begin to drift and wander onto topics that serve little purpose — that’s OK! Each moment that we can bring our awareness back to the present moment strengthens both our physical body and our spiritual self.
Zen and Exercise: A Beautiful Combination
If you’re in a position where you find yourself longing for more out of life, or perhaps you want to simply become more anchored in the present moment, Zen practiced in the morning during a bike ride is brilliant. Once the habit and routine has been established during your morning hours, you will begin to notice yourself evolving and blossoming into a fulfilled individual. Your stress will seem to melt away and you will find yourself spiritually centred during trying times.
Sophia D. Hope
Sophia is a gardener and outdoor enthusiast. She writes about gardening, Health, Diet and related product reviews. She shares creative and affordable ways to DIY and DECORATE a yard and garden.
ZTT LINK-UP #020
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Twenty weeks! Congratulations Min. This link up has been fun and one which has challenged me to consider what is ‘zen’ and I have enjoyed being both a guest poster and a linker. Have a great Tuesday and week ahead.
Thanks again for all you do to support bloggers!
Thanks so much Denyse and thank you to you! I appreciate so much the support you’ve offered me for #ZTT – the series, and the link-up! You’re a gem! 🙂 xo
Well done with the link up MIn because hosting and organising isn’t always easy. I’ve not been able to link up the last couple of weeks due to time constraints but I did love the Zen theme. You have had some very interesting guests and I agree with Sophia that how we start our day determines how our day progresses. Have a great week xx #MLSTL
Thanks Sue. I couldn’t link up with #MLSTL last week either cos I was in Melbourne and had no access or time. Have a great week. xo
I love the idea of a morning bike ride and wish I could do it more often. My husband and I ride our bikes to the nearby beach early on Saturday or Sunday mornings. We take a carafe of coffee and enjoy listening to the waves.
I love a bike ride myself Michele but can’t even tell you when the last time I rode a bike was. I think it was when we were away on holidays and hired some bikes … many years ago. I know I love it. Must do it again soon! Your bike rides to the beach sound glorious! 🙂
This is right up my alley Min! We’re currently away from home riding our bikes in Queensland and loving it! I agree with Sophia, the mornings are a great time to get out there. Good on you Min for this great series! #mlstl
Sounds like great fun Deb! Enjoy! I prefer to do my ‘activities’ in the mornings. I just roll out of bed and go. Usually it’s reformer pilates these days but sometimes walking at the local waterfront too. I do love a bike ride but gee its been ages. Must rectify that! xo
Yes to morning exercise. I walk early each morning. We follow that with a coffee and 20 mins on the beach, just to get the day going properly. On the mornings this doesn’t happen, well, you don’t want to know what those days are like…significantly unzenlike.
Yes to morning exercise for me too Jo! Today I had to postpone my Reformer Pilates to the 9:30am class because my niece needed a lift to school early morning to go to camp and that was fine but I much prefer the 6:30 class to the 9:30 class. I like to get it done and dusted early and then have the whole day ahead of me.
Min, thanks for sharing Sophia’s thoughts on morning Zen on a bike. I like to think that time spent in leisure is the most creative and beneficial thing we can do to start our day. I’m currently wearing a cast on my left foot recovering from surgery and I MISS my morning walks and bike rides. However, my Weight Watchers app has some meditation moments I will check out. My a.m. zen is getting that first cup of coffee and just enjoying the sunny California mornings. Reading via #MLSTL!
Oh Terri – sorry to hear you’re in a cast and recovering from surgery. That would be frustrating. I love my morning pilates and/or walking. Enjoy the meditation – there’s lots to gain from the stillness meditation offers. BTW I love that first coffee of the day too! Nothing like it!
Love that idea of zen, so very sweet. Thanks for the tip. #MLSTL
Thank you Min and Sophia. I’ve been meditating for 10 minutes every morning for a while now. At first it was difficult, but now I can’t imagine starting my day without it. I’m not much of a bike rider, but I do like the idea of incorporating meditation or mindfulness in everyday activities, like walking or washing your hands. Happy Thursday! #MLSTL
You’re doing well Christie if you’re meditating every day for 10 minutes! Hope you have a wonderful week! 🙂