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“Chillin” is a word that has crept into the Urban Dictionary. A word for “Relaxing, doing nothing in particular.”

Chillin, in my book would require having happy thoughts, or better yet no thoughts. Living in the moment.

Children do that so well, they are not thinking ten minutes into the past or future. Animals too, like the cat on the right.

Their brain is not developed enough to have a whole a lot of memories of the past, or thoughts of the future. Human kind’s intelligence and memory capacity is both a gift and a curse.

I left the bike business in 1993. Over 20 years, or a lifetime for some young person. Since that time I have practiced doing nothing.

If you think that sounds easy, the next time you go to a doctor’s office or take your car in for an oil change, try to sit in the waiting room with your hands in your lap, and do nothing. Do not pick up a magazine or fiddle with your cell phone. More important keep your mind blank, free of any thought.

In the 1990s to achieve this state of mind I would have to make a point to set time aside each day to meditate. I did not get into meditation out of any desire to engage in some mystic eastern religion, but after reading about the practice it seemed like a good idea.

At the time my mind was constantly filled with negative thoughts, and as a result my life was filled with negativity. Throughout my waking hours my mind was filled with either thoughts of the past or future. I was either reliving the bad events of my past, or worrying about the possible misfortunes of the future.

My daily life was a constant torment and I realized it was of my own making. In time I realized, no matter how hard I tried my past would never get any better. What was the point of constantly reliving it, over and over?

The same with the future, it was only imagined. I was mourning some future bad event before it even happened. Worse still, my negative thoughts most probably brought about the very thing I was worrying about.

At least by consciously sitting quietly and pushing all thought from my mind, I was not thinking negatively. At first it was extremely difficult, I could not go but a minute or so before a thought about something or other would pop into my head.

I became an observer of my own mind. I could see that one idle random thought would lead to another and pretty soon there would be a whole train of thought on a track leading to who knows where.

At first my meditation sessions went something like this: Sit with my mind blank… a thought pops in… push it out… repeat… sit with my mind blank. In time, the periods I could consciously keep my mind blank increased, and if thoughts did pop in, they were pushed out with ease.

Even more beneficial, in time throughout the day while driving to work, or during my time at work I observed idle thoughts entering my mind, idle chatter that served no useful purpose. I began to consciously push these thoughts from my mind and keep it blank.

It probably took me about five years of effort to banish idle chatter from my mind. Today I rarely set aside actual time to meditate, instead I practice keeping my mind blank at all times.

While I sit and drink my coffee in the morning. If I drive my car, or ride my bike, or as I already pointed out while sitting in a waiting room somewhere.

Having a blank mind while driving or riding my bike is actually better and safer than being deep in thought. To be deep in thought, especially about something troubling is to be distracted, even to be in a state of trance.

Driving or riding a bike does not require conscious thought to anyone with experience, it is automatic. By that I mean even defensive riding or driving is automatic. Keeping the mind clear of extraneous thought, one is actually more alert should an emergency occur.

Keeping my mind blank is like sitting in front of a blank computer screen, or having a blank page of a notebook in front of me. It is an opportunity for creative thoughts to appear.

Just as it is impossible to convey my thoughts to someone else if that person will not stop talking and listen, if my mind is filled with constant chatter, creative thoughts have nowhere to enter.

I can highly recommend doing nothing when nothing is required, my life is mostly stress free. It is not necessary to be thinking if all you have to achieve is waiting for the oil to be changed in your car.  It is not difficult either, but it does take time, it is not going to happen overnight.

It has taken me over twenty years to get to the peaceful happy place I am now. But looking back it took me a great many more years to get to the mental Hell where I lived before.


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Reader Comments (9)

Great post Dave with great advise. As some one who just recently started practicing meditation to help with anxiety, I agree that every session gets easier and everyday better. After the first session I felt better. Wish I started meditating 20 years ago.

February 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClausen

I retire from teaching public school on June 10th of this year and I am very concerned about the transition to "retiree" and not having enough to do. I suspect my bicycle mileage will soar for awhile. Meditation has proven to be a most valuable area for me to explore. Now, if I could just keep those negative thoughts regarding my current boss and the (extremely) hostile workplace environment out of my brain !!!

February 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

Some of the fitest AND fastest riders on the trails that I ride in Parker, Colorado are RETIRED Beleive me IF you like riding a boik (BIKE) you will NOT be bored. Life is what YOU make it! You got this far so enjoy the rest while you can. On April 12 2015 I will be riding the L'Erioca ride in Paso Robles California in part to celebrate my club Midland C&AC in Brum UK 125th anniversary. This will be close to my 82nd B/D I hope to set an example to all the young ems out there, that hard work and exercise pays off.

February 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

When I have the opportunity to cycle in the countryside, away from traffic, I find I can let my mind empty as I simply take in and appreciate my surroundings. It's one of the main reasons I took up cycling in the first place. Since getting involved with Laughter Yoga I have become more aware of the value of yoga generally and also meditation. At first, trying to empty one's mind of 'monkey chatter' is very difficult as thoughts fly into one's head from all directions and subjects and it is a matter of pushing them away with a firm 'No' and clearing the slate again. I find that deep breathing (or Pranayama yoga) helps as, by nature, one has to concentrate on the act of deep breathing so that it becomes all one thinks about by becoming totally aware of it. I can also recommend the practice of Yoga Nidra during which one becomes aware of all parts of one's body in a practice of appreciation and breathing so that one is almost in a sleep-like mode but still having waking awareness. It is a very relaxing exercise.

February 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie Thompson

Dave, you did write something similar in the past and it really hit home. Good advise, thanks for sharing you lack of thoughts, as it were. Jan.

February 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJan

The Vancouver BC school system has introduced mindfulness meditation into the primary grades. The children are proving its worth i their academic performance.

February 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterayjaydee

I don't know, Dave. When I ride my bike, and this goes back more than 50 years, my mind is always active. I remember I used to hum or whistle popular songs on the radio when I was a teenager. This winter my activities include snowblowing the driveway and my mind is always occupied with how to do it most efficiently. In the summer it's mowing the grass with my riding mower and my mind is always going. When driving my car I'm always thinking about the most precise and efficient way to do it, picking the right line with my Volvo or getting the gear shifts just right with my Camaro. What you're advocating is what was known as "dropping out " in the 1960s. You may as well smoke dope and turn your mind off and let it run loose out of control.

February 5, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjohnb

"Letting the mind run loose, out of control," is the exact opposite of what I am advocating. Just as when there is a group of people all talking at once, and it is impossible to get a word in. How can a person have an original thought, or create anything original, if the mind is constantly filled with useless and unimportant thoughts, or "Chatter?"

February 6, 2015 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Maggie. I would like to ask you a few questions about Roy and Kath(Kate) Packwood would you please Email me at crumpy6204@aol.com

February 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump
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