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Judgment on the Canal Trail

My love affair with biking has become a big part of my day., as many days a week that I can take an hour to go out on the Farmington Canal Trail, I am there! It has become an opportunity to be present. No headphones, no music, no electronics...just me , the bike and nature.

oh, and the other people on the trail.


Everything can become a spiritual lesson, if you select that lens. On my rides, I notice I often see the same people. The older couples out for a daily walk, often one taking such deep care for the others. The bike rider who stops and fishes in the pond. The young college students our running, and the parents taking their babies and children out in strollers.


Dogs...lots of dogs.


Everyone co-existing on what can become a very busy paved trail.


But then there are other situations that I find very interesting, and have told myself a lot about me, and how I judge. Awareness is the first step!


Coming up behind people who spread out across the trail, not leaving any room for others to pass, I slowly come up and gently ask to be able to pass on the left. They are blissfully aware of anyone other than themselves. I notice that I wonder how they could not be aware of others (and me!)...then also contemplate their ease that they are in the moment, enjoying time with family and friends. and why would I expect they can see behind them??


A few times I have stopped at one of the frequent little rest areas, and have had comments made about my bike... electric assisted (often with a comment from other bicyclists that I am "cheating".) Yes....I will admit, I love my assisted pedaling. and yes, I will also admit those comments sting a bit and I pause and reflect on what is arising for me. Then I get back on the bike.


Many people listen to loud music as they walk, or run, or bike. I find myself evaluating their music choices and creating stories about what they are listening to. Their heritage, their politics, their age. I them contemplate...what would people say about me if they knew what I listened to??


Falling. Okay yes, I have fallen off my bike. Twice. But not in the way you would think. I was actually standing still, and just fell over. I fell over because I am not as mobile and flexible as I used to be and had difficulty getting off. I am 64 and have realized that I need to focus on mobility and flexibility as my years of sitting in front of a computer have taken its toll. So I have a skinned knee, just like when I was 6 years old.


I have many other examples, but have learned that we can always, and I mean always, be aware of what is happening within ourselves. The stories we tell ourselves, the judgments we make, the self criticism, the list goes on. But, we can also take this as an opportunity to learn about ourselves, to be aware of when we allow those thoughts and stories to overtake us. We can ask, is it true? Where do these judgments come from, and what do they tell us about ourselves? We can be kind and compassionate and honor all that arises with gentle awareness...knowing it will pass.


That is where I choose to go; I never imagined something as simple as riding my bike would open me up to so many spiritual messages.


What can you choose to look differently at today?

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