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Discovering mindfulness between my two pedals

Biking around Grounds is hard, but being mindful about our habits is harder

<p>Cecy Juárez is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Cecy Juárez is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

If you ever see me around Grounds, you probably don’t see me for long. I’m often zooming on my blue electric beach cruiser bike, riding from one place to another. You may have even had the displeasure of hearing me sing off-tune to the music in my headphones as I ride on by. I've been biking around Grounds for about two years now, and I've learned a lot about bike maintenance, bike accessibility and how steep that hill in front of Clark Library really is. But after all this time, the most important lesson I’ve learned from biking is how to be more mindful.

Walking is great — it gets the job done. It gets your blood flowing and gets those steps in. I used to walk to class or even take a convenient, quick bus ride to my destination, but I would find myself doing both mindlessly. Especially when I am on the bus, I turn off my brain even more by scrolling aimlessly through my phone. Walking and riding the bus are the types of tasks where you can rely a lot on your automatic thinking to move your body and allow your brain to become thoughtless mush.

I can sense how, sometimes, my peers also walk without purpose. We are all on our phones or have a certain glassy-eyed look on our faces that indicates that our heads aren’t really in the moment. Many times I’ve been completely oblivious, walking past my friends without recognizing them.

Biking fixed that bad habit. When I started biking, I had to start thinking — a lot. At first, I mostly thought about how much my legs hurt. No matter where I traveled on Grounds, I seemed to always be biking uphill. I would think about how much exertion I had to put into pedaling, how I could ride to my destination to avoid encountering stairs and how I could avoid getting clipped by unaware drivers. Biking took more mental and physical exertion than I’d ever put into my daily commute. I’d often arrive breathless and sweaty to my classes to the distaste of whoever sat next to me. 

Over time, though, biking did get easier. My quad muscles finally came in and I could conquer a hill without seeing stars. I began memorizing the most optimal bike routes — I became an expert biker. At first, I thought I had just gained muscles and the ability to get to places faster. But now as I reflect more on my experiences of biking around Grounds, I think I’ve developed a much more meaningful virtue — mindfulness. 

Mindfulness, in its most basic form, is a sense of awareness both within yourself and your surroundings. When I would merely walk to places on Grounds, I was nothing short of mindless. Now, I’ve developed a mindful muscle. 

I notice each crack and pothole in the street to avoid. I take note of each pedestrian — where they are going and how fast they are crossing. I’m aware of the cars around me, and I’m thinking about measuring my breathing and exertion. I’ve noticed the subtle changes in the seasons too, the ebb and flow of leaves on the trees. Even when I’m not biking, I’ve become more cognizant of my surroundings and appreciate the little beauties everywhere. 

Getting to my destination doesn’t have to be a meaningless task. Biking made me realize how even silly commutes to class are filled with things that make everyday life more interesting.

I know I won’t be riding on my epic, mint blue electric beach cruiser with a brown basket forever. One day, people will only have the misfortune of sharing the road with me as a driver instead of hearing me belt out Taylor Swift lyrics as I whizz past them on my bike. But I hope to carry this lesson for longer than it took me to learn it. I hope to remain mindful in my actions and chores to stay connected to my surroundings. 

Cecy Juárez is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at 


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