NGNM Founder Milly de Mori’s thoughts on sounds while cycling this Christmas holidays.
Here at NGNM, we’ve often talked about how cycling can be a meditation in movement, especially when riding solo.
The silence, the immersion in nature, the being at one with your bike and yourself...
Now there is research that backs this up: a new study published this month on Sports Health has come to the conclusion that not only do elite athletes have a quieter brain, they also process sound differently from everyone else. You can read the full NYTimes article here.
This research proves that athletes are able to "filter out" background noise and chatter, leaving them able to simply focus on the sounds they wanted, or benefitted from hearing
For us cyclists, the ability to listen and focus on noise around us can be critical – whether it’s alerting you to traffic, malfunctioning mechanics on your bike, or any other potentially hazardous situations.
But other than the safety aspect, sounds can sprinkle our cycling experience with shiny stars as well...Cue the satisfying noise of a buttery smooth gear change (top!), or the soft rumble of tyres on asphalt, let alone tuning into those immersive nature sounds when you’re venturing out into remote areas by gravel or MTB.
I've spent a third of my adult life playing records and producing music. I've developed a very selective ear towards frequencies, noises, and sounds in general. Countless hours in the studio polishing sounds have led me to appreciate the healing properties of binaural beats and noises, for example. I find beauty in some of the most dissonant contemporary classical music out there. More on this subject on a dedicated blog post, watch for it in the upcoming months.
Cycling is, for me, almost a Dolby surround-sound experience... The near-field thump of our breathing, then chain, gears, and tyres just a tad removed, then the mid and far-fields for everything else around us. When we pay close attention, we're hit by such a multitude of auditory stimuli that we can almost equate it to having our own little private concert. In essence, we're projected into another dimension where sounds, thoughts, and emotions collide in a giant concert hall, where magic happens.
Elite or amateur, any athletic activity that requires focus and attention has the power to "filter out" everything that is unnecessary, and keep the important elements right in the center. It’s just like closing our eyes and focusing on our breathing in our meditation corner, except in our case, we’re pedaling.
So, what does it mean for us?
A quiet brain connects us to a higher self that has the power to manage emotions, reach sensible decisions and allow the best version of ourselves to show up (this is always precious and always a good thing!).
I'm constantly amazed at the myriad ways in which cycling teaches me lessons, triggers new inner experiences, helps me stay healthy and positive, and lastly, lets me get to know myself, better and better on each ride
If there's one wish I'd like to share with all of you for these holidays, it is to welcome the time in the saddle on your own – it doesn't matter if for just one hour or even less. Use that time to tune in. Take the back roads and pick a place far away from traffic.
Listen, and pay attention to what enters your mind.
Happy meditation on two wheels and happy holidays!
Milly De Mori