The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Thomas Paine.

My Aunty lives in the gateway to the Peak District in Derbyshire.
A beautiful picturesque region of England attracting visitors from all over the world.
Over the past few years she’s noticed an increase in the amount of cyclists.

Some of the country roads are very narrow, on a Sunday drive its common place to find yourself in a slow-moving queue, not due to a tractor but a cyclist spinning his wheels at just over 8mph ahead as he challenges himself to climb on the peaks.

‘Its annoying’ my Aunty stated.
She knows that I enjoy cycling and choose it as my main mode of transport.
Slightly perplexed she asked: ‘Why do they do it?’
On the surface the question makes sense.

Why would you want to spend your ‘day of rest’ struggling up a hill in Derbyshire?

For a keen cyclist though there is nothing better than challenging yourself to a ride over a series of hills – the satisfaction of making it to the summit . In some respects the least enjoyable part of the ride can be the downhill when you freewheel – dodging potholes and parked cars.

Earlier this year I was in a mountainous region of Northern Italy where cyclists go to training camps spending weeks climbing hills. Some of these routes take you to an altitude of nearly 4000m.? When cycling at this height you also have the benefit of increasing your fitness due to the altitude.

After having the conversation with my Aunty it made me think about how this relates to our attitude towards life.

It’s nice to freewheel and have things go well in our life. We can be fooled into thinking if circumstances are not going well for us then we have a problem. Very similar to cycling along a nice flat road and suddenly we are faced with an ascent. There are different ways to approach it – here are a few thoughts we may have.

Become depressed because we have to cycle uphill.

Feel disheartened as the flat has stopped.

Simple turn around and cycle back so you don’t have to challenge yourself.

Stop and worry about not being able to make it to the top

Make a decision to challenge yourself.

Look forward to testing your ability.

Cycle as far as you can uphill and then get off and walk!

These are similar attitudes that we may have when confronted with challenges in our life.

Returning to the story of the cyclist who spins his way uphill. For him a mountain is not a problem its a solution to help him train.? He has made this decision.

In the same way an athlete trains their body and mind – a meditator can train their mind and body.
For any athlete who is training although there is a huge amount of physical training involved an essential ingredient is the mental approach. If this is correct then there can be a difference in performance. The cyclist who has decided to climb mountains – has not always had that approach it’s something that’s been developed.

There is a famous pass in the Italian mountains called the Motirolo pass which has gradients of up to 22% when I was there this Spring there were Italian bicycle group out on it for the day, with some members in their 70’s. They had been enjoying it all their life. Their minds had changed towards these hills – they chose to ride out on them.

We can learn to train our mind towards challenging situations. See them as mountains that we can ascend. When you arrive at the summit of a mountain, you gain spectacular views and a sense of exhilaration.? The same takes places when you overcome an obstacle. There is perhaps another mountain waiting after you have freewheeled for a while but you are ready for it – after all you have started your training.

As time goes by when you cycle – ascending hills and mountains become easier, the peaks even seem smaller, less steep to the point where sometimes you forget that your going uphill. This is just the familiarity of training. There is no magic involved.

Responsibility and challenges can become easier to deal with, even enjoyable through familiarity with a new way of looking at the situation.

Article written by Adam Dacey

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