Today I biked five miles in the rain. I wanted to bike at least 10 miles because I have the goal of reaching 40 miles the last weekend in April before the actual Five Boro bike tour. But the rain and my lack of rain gear kept me at five miles. Once it started to pour, and I felt wet from the tips of my soaked through gloves to the clingy leggings I wore, I knew I had to turn around.

Before it began to pour, when it was just a light drizzle, I stopped to enjoy the haze that had settled over the Hudson River. I took in deep breaths of the smell of rain. I stopped to photograph trees covered in blossoms that seem to have appeared from one day to the next.

I noticed others along the river walkway jogging or just staring out at the NYC skyline. Somehow those people just blended in to the gray as if they had always been there like the tree blossoms.

After suffering through feeling cold and wet I gave in to the rain and felt that I too began to blend in like the others.

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Seagulls stared ahead as I biked the last stretch of waterfront path in Jersey City during one of the first warm days in March. Their beaks pointed me in the direction of Hoboken. They squawked and announced the arrival of spring along with the fresh morning air and brilliant sun.

The weather forced me to stop and take notice, to appreciate the seagulls perched on the railing, and to watch the sun glimmering off the Hudson River. If I hadn’t been on my bike, I would have missed the seagulls, the river, and the moment to pause and take in the new season.

For all that I saw that morning from the bike seat, which is more than I take in when zoned out in the car, there was plenty I didn’t see. During a lecture on the Wheel of Life — a Buddhist painting that represents our cyclical existence — Venerable Chunzom describes how we are stuck in a certain perception of the universe and that there are many things around us that we don’t see.

Sometimes I am so stuck in the cyclical nature of my own thoughts that I don’t see what’s in front of me. Getting on the bike, like meditation, bumps me out of the whirlwind of thought and brings me to the present moment.

On the bike path

Today, a gorgeous day! If this warm weather sticks it means no excuses to get on the bike path daily. Biking along the waterfront especially makes for an awesome trip. The sun was out in its brilliant form shimmering across the Hudson River.

Image  —  Posted: March 8, 2012 in On the bike path

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To break a cycle you have to be aware that you are caught in a pattern of behavior, that you react the same way every time someone cuts in front of you, for example, or a friend cancels on you last minute. Your mind goes into default and pulls up, “hey, get to the back of the line!” or “that’s the last time I make plans with her.”

There is also the perpetuity of inaction especially when it comes to changing patterns related to exercise or eating habits. We tend to recycle what is comfortable. Perhaps you think, I’d like to start drinking fresh juices every morning but then the sun rises, alarm sounds, cat meows for food, and you roll out of bed and begin a routine that excludes that fresh juice because making it would require a mental shift. Or maybe you do make the fresh juice one or two mornings but then by the third morning you forget that the previous two even existed and you go back to coffee and toast with butter.

We are in constant motion but tend to run on autopilot. Where is the off switch for autopilot?

I went out to Arizona the first week of December 2010 to help get the retreat site ready for Venerable Lobsang Chunzom. I helped create a stairway of steps between the meditation studio and the main cabin, painted wood beams, spray painted furniture, and shoveled dirt among other duties.

I also undertook the task of removing rust from an old exercise bike that was outside the cabin underneath a tree. Given that Venerable Chunzom performs the retreat in silence, and stays on the grounds, it is important to get exercise. The exercise bike serves the purpose of helping her stay fit.

I didn’t get all the rust off the bicycle because the winter sun set rapidly on that last day. Although the rust was heavy in some parts and almost blended into the metal I did get to see some shine come through.

What rust I didn’t remove, I feel as though I carried back home with me. I haven’t shaken it fully off quite yet. It is almost as if I have the project left to complete.

I’m rusty from a long winter hibernation with endless rounds on the hamster wheel of work. I see days of biking ahead as a way to work out all the knots, kinks and creaks built up over time.

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As I set the wheels in motion to bike in the Five Boro Bike Tour – 40 miles through all five New York City boroughs – I intend to dedicate the practice of training and the tour to Venerable Lobsang Chunzom who entered into a three-year, meditative retreat for peace on Dec. 31, 2010. I hope to raise money to help cover ongoing retreat costs for food, supplies, and medical needs.