Motorcycling is more than just a hobby or mode of transportation – it’s an experience. When you ride a motorcycle, you become one with the machine and the road, and everything else fades away. Time seems to stand still, and you’re completely focused on the task at hand. It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words, but it’s often referred to as being in a state of flow. This state of flow is often associated with extreme sports, such as surfing, skiing, and yes, motorcycling.
When you’re riding a motorcycle, you need to be fully present and focused on the machine you are riding and the road ahead. You need to be aware of your surroundings, anticipate potential hazards, and make split-second decisions. You are so consumed by the activity, that there’s no room for distractions or wandering thoughts. Your mind and body are completely engaged in the activity, and you become one with the machine.
It is said that awareness in the state of flow is akin to your state when meditating. Monks use physical tasks like walking, chanting, or sweeping the floor to put themselves in the present. Being lost in that act allows them to live in the moment more completely. The wasted energy spent on tending to your ego & mind is instead spent on the activity itself; the activity becomes who you are. Is this meditative state absolute for me when on the bike? Absolutely not, there are still some thoughts & distractions. But these distractions are minimal for extended periods of time, while I’m motorcycling.
As you ride, your body moves in harmony with the motorcycle. You lean into the turns, shift your weight, and adjust your body position to maintain balance and control. It’s a dance between you and the bike, and everything else fades away. Your mind is clear, and you’re completely focused on the ride. However, being in a state of flow while motorcycling requires skill, experience, and focus.
The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… the best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhileDr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, who introduced our world to the concept of flow, points out eight characteristics of the state of flow:
- Complete concentration on the task;
- Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback;
- Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down);
- The experience is intrinsically rewarding;
- Effortlessness and ease (a well-practiced skill);
- There is a balance between challenge and skills;
- Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination;
- There is a feeling of control over the task (experienced).
Studies have shown that being in a state of flow has numerous benefits. It improves focus, creativity, and productivity. It also reduces stress and anxiety and can lead to a sense of fulfillment and happiness. Motorcycling, in particular, has been shown to improve cognitive function, increase self-confidence, and promote a sense of freedom and independence.