THE BLOG

Six Things to Do to Become a Mindful Cyclist

08/01/2015 21:45 GMT | Updated 10/03/2015 09:59 GMT

Earlier this week I was called a wanker. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.

It happened on the road around Trafalgar Square as people began to peacefully gather to express their support for Paris following the terror attacks.

Being a cyclist in any busy city comes with it's far share of conflict. It's easy to take the bait.

But as I was verbally abused by a kamikaze pedestrian who fancied his chances running a red light I simply smiled politely and peddled away.

Last year I had too many near misses while cycling in London. Most of them were caused by me. It's an uncomfortable truth for cyclists to hear and admit they've probably taken part in their fair share of silly cycling.

So, in 2015 I've decided that when I ride to work I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to take my time and I'm going to become a mindful cyclist.

Mindfulness is all the rage right now, and rightly so. We've all felt overwhelmed by the challenges of living in a modern world. In its most raw form mindfulness is simply living in the moment and enjoying it.

When I ride my bike I naturally feel mindful. It takes me away from the stresses and worries of the daily grind and adds colour to a black and white world. To have this enjoyable pass time peppered with near death moments and human conflicts is really, well, annoying. Here's the five things I'll be doing to become being a mindful cyclist.

1. Stopping to take a picture

I cycle along one of the most famous rivers in the world which his home to some of the most historic and eye-catching urban scenery. Do I ever stop to appreciate it? Do I hell. To encourage me to stop and take a moment to appreciate what is in front of my eyes I'm going to try and pause to take a photo. Check my Instagram account @stephenbhull to see if I'm true to my word.

2. Concentrating on pedalling slower than my brain wants to

Racing everyone is the bane of my cycling existence. I can't help it. It is probably the sole reason for my numerous near misses. As I've slowed down I've noticed more and more people racing past me, desperate to get in front. It's a mugs' game. There is no front and you'll be chasing all day long. Instead I'm going to pedal along at a sociable pace. I'm going to concentrate on keeping my movements steady and rhythmic.

3. Letting the abuse and human conflict wash over me

As I described in my earlier anecdote, abuse is unfortunately part and parcel of cycling in London. There's a natural tension between people and bikes and cars. And you know what, I get it, but I'm no longer going to let that tension rub off on me. If you don't like the way I'm cycling, fine, but it's not my problem. I stick to the rules, I don't rush and I'm just looking out for myself. Now let me ride.

4. Smiling as I ride

I've often noticed as I push myself, in a massive gear, to overtake my fellow commuters in their bright yellow waterproofs, that I look a bit sad. I'm not Mark Cavendish. I will not win a green jersey for reaching Parliament Square first. My teeth grinding is probably not good for me either. Smile, it might catch on.

5. Taking different routes home

It sounds obvious, but I always, without fail take the same route home. Why? One of the most exciting things about cycling is how easy it is to have fun getting lost in streets you've never seen before. It's a hat tip to all the things that make youth exciting and on a journey home it adds a little sense of adventure. I want a slice of that.

6. Enjoy taking long, deep breaths

Instead of arriving at traffic lights panting for breath and sweating, I'm going to employ all of the above to ensure I'm filling my lungs with large, relaxed amounts of fresh air. I'll arrive at my destination calm and refreshed, well that's the plan. I'll blog later in the year to tell you how I've got on.