Finding Flexibility

Today, I am recovering from a massage. I find myself meditating on flexibility as my ambitions to grow as a rider comes into conflict with the information I’m getting from my body.

I want to push myself to climb higher, ride farther, and endure more on my bike. I honestly feel guilty if I go too long without doing a good, long ride. I am afraid that if I don’t get out there and grow myself, I’ll lose the capabilities that I have presently.

But over the last several weeks, my legs have been falling apart with cramps, aches, and pains that have me feeling handicapped.

Presently, I am hoping to take this as an opportunity to grow forward. I am hoping to avail myself of more sports medicine, including the massage, to enable myself to keep going.

But we often find ourselves in a position where life is pulling us away from the path we have laid out for ourselves. Sometimes we can listen to the universe and take an opportunity to be flexible and find growth in an unexpected direction.

Sometimes life doesn’t give us a choice.

This winter, I had the tremendous joy to get out cross-country skiing for the first time in well over a decade. I was blessed to have a couple of friends who got me out to enjoy a fresh, new experience.

One of the people I went skiing with was my friend and roommate, Mandi. She got skis at the beginning of the winter and started to get out skiing. I was fortunate to get up to Indian Peaks with her to ski earlier in the season.

We had a fantastic time, and we were hoping to get out again during the winter for another ski trip. We both had a whole bunch of adventures planned out, respectively.

Then Mandi had an accident while she was skiing and broke her knee. When she was at the hospital, the doctors told her they were seeing a lot of patients that year due to bad, sketchy snow.

Mandi and I skiing on around Brainard Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Mandi has thus been presented with a challenge to grow in another direction. As I write this, she is out on a road trip.

She chose to use the unexpected turn in life to invest in her interest in van living. She has been in the process of converting a van, and she moved that project forward with a few new investments. And now she is out enjoying her new direction.

With all due compassion for her situation, I take it as a lesson that I can learn from. I am cautious about pushing myself too far.

But at the same time, it is extremely important to me to grow. It is part of my core values as a human to constantly strive to grow.

If I’m not growing, I’m not living my best life.

I wanted to ride 80 miles on Lake Mary road, but strong winds sapped my strength. I had to be flexible and accept shortening the ride to 50 miles.

As I seek to balance my ambitions to grow with the need to care for my body, mind, and spirit, the need for flexibility becomes apparent.

As hard as it can be to listen to the body when I have plans to do more and go farther, it is even more difficult to listen to the feedback from the mind and spirit.

I generally reserve a time in the early morning for my meditation and self-care practices. It’s a time slot that was inherited from when I was doing programming stuff in the morning.

It is valuable to me to be able to get up early in the morning and get that quiet time to meditate, reflect, and set intentions for the day.

A mural on the Sand Creek Trail in Denver, Colorado. We often strike a balance of culture and nature.

But at the same time, one of my major focuses is being more open and connected with people. My morning practice means that I often try to go to bed early in the evening. But the main time I can enjoy spending time with my roommates is in the evening.

So I am faced with a conundrum. How can I isolate myself to become more connected?

As is often the case with questions of balance, there is no final answer.

Some evenings, I take the opportunity to hang out and connect with my roommates. Then, I may have to respond to sleep deprivation and prioritize going to bed early the next night. There’s an ongoing need to reassess and balance.

We must endeavor to stay in tune with ourselves and be ready to respond to feedback from our bodies, our minds, the universe.

Flexibility is about flow. It’s not about figuring out the right answer.

As with so many mindfulness practices, it’s not about solving a problem once and for all but creating a framework in which we can use tools to manage our lives toward the end of intentionally living our best life.

Clear Creek steams as the sun rises. Change can create moments of beauty.

Our bodies, minds, and spirits, as well as the natural world and society around us, are in a constant state of change. We cannot set a course for a mindful life without staying in tune with the changes in us and the world around us.

How has change brought new opportunities for you? Do you feel flexible? Or is it something to work on?

I invite you to contemplate the role of flexibility in bringing you to where you are in life, now, and in finding your best way forward into your best life.

Published by Miles of Mindfulness

My name is Mike Bragg. I'm a Denver-based cycling enthusiast and a big advocate of mindfulness. I enjoy the outdoors, and I use mindfulness practices to help myself be more present with my adventures. I like to read challenging material, and I have a keen interest in ancient history and natural sciences.

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