Five years ago I was in a bicycle accident. It had been a sunny summer Friday afternoon, and I went for a bike ride after work. I remember riding my bike fast that day, enjoying the summer breeze on the heat of my skin. My speed was synchronized with my excitement and anticipation of my plans for later that day. I was to visit my friend afterwards and then meet my son at the airport, who was returning from overseas. I was feeling happy. And then it happened. What happened I only know through reconstructing it at a later time, when I already come back with the help of strangers, the witnesses and rescuers of my accident. I wasn’t present when the accident happened. My last memory was just before the accident, a clear visual image of that curvy downward hill and the bridge just beyond to be crossed. I remember the feel of going fast, too fast to control that curve. And then nothing…
I regained moment of consciousness in the ambulance. I remember the joy when being asked my name. I felt joy that I could answer. I felt joy to be with another person. I had a visceral feel of my body laying on a surface that was moving. “Ahh that must be a vehicle, someone is driving me somewhere!” I thought. I felt a sense of joy of “coming back, coming home” to the world that I know through my body. My joy resided in understanding that in that world I connected with others, fellow human beings…And that moment of consciousness slipped into black and still. I do not know if that “black and still” existed then or has become the feel of what I experience now when I look at that moment in retrospect.
Rumi, a famous Sufi poet asked: “Do you make regular visits to yourself?” In answering his question, I have realized that riding my bike that sunny summer afternoon I was being a poor visitor to myself, a jittery guest who was uneasy, impatient and hungry for more excitement, who was going in and out of being present. I have realized that riding my bicycle that day, I was actually riding on my thoughts with the bicycle, disconnected from my body. I had merged with my thoughts; I had become a twirling speed of my thoughts and excitement of forecasted events. The speed of my bike matched my pedaling in non-awareness.
This is my story of a lesson in mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness of unfolding-moment-to moment experience. We become mindful at the moment when we catch ourselves not being mindful. We come back to the moment when we realize we have been absent and have run away from ourselves once again. We learn to embrace the moment of coming back with kindness to ourselves. We celebrate, because we have come back to our body, to our home.
Last week I went for another bicycle ride. I caught myself in feeling rushed. “Who is riding the bike in this moment?” I inquired. I slowed down, pushing the pedals with my out breath and releasing the pressure on pedals with my in breath, in and out. This time I felt at home, in my body.
– Marina Riker Kucic
Marina Riker Kucic is the leader of the upcoming Gestalt and Mindfulness workshop. Click here for more information or to register.