Claudio is a student journalist from Chile who has challenged himself in a cycling experiment. An experiment into physical endurance, change and novelty. On and off the bicycle, into body and mind. Mark has accompanied and guided the process in this self-discovery adventure in the northern part of Patagonia where Claudio was tested how to deal with changing circumstances. Look at it as an epigenetic approach towards mindset. Key subjects were awareness, dealing with fear, neurochemistry, reframing, and the overal mind-body connection. This was yet another case study an another step towards a program for people seeking growth. Whether it be special interest (sports & mindfulness), combatting stress or depression, or anybody who wants to take it to the next level in their personal and / or physical development.
This physical and mental experiment gave more insights to what happens when we “radically” change our lives and make new habits that benefit body and mind. Nowadays people are more and more exposed to mental difficulty and brain fog. There is too much noise coming in from external stimuli while the mind could actually use some clarity and peace.
Awareness and brain nourishment form the framework of this experiment. We have tested how to use mindfulness techniques on and off the bicycle to train presence and focus. We practiced skills how to deviate from daily distractions and the default mode network which is the brain region that is responsible for mind chatter — known in Buddhist tradition as the monkey mind — with the objective to become aware and more quiet in the mind. To enter a new stage of energy.
Exercise & experience
To give an idea here are some quotes from the recent book we published “Reinvent Yourself“. According to clinical psychologist and neuroscientist Steve Ilardi, we need to move to activate key circuits in the brain that enhance energy, mood, and motivation. “It’s the best antidepressant out there.” He says exercise also enhances our cognitive function, memory, and attention.
In addition, Professor Gerd Kempermann (M.D.) states that a new, enriching, and exciting environment brings about complex cognitive processes in the brain. It’s an insecure environment that needs cognitive flexibility. Combining these complex cognitive behaviors with exercise will result in the making of new nerve cells in the brain. “Specifically, new neurons are added to the network of the hippocampus, the ’gateway to memory,’ dependent on activity and experience.”
The relevance and message of cycling in a totally new environment, is that for new neural connections and cognitive growth to appear, people have to leave their comfort zone. We aim to demonstrate what processes are at play, how the central nervous system reacts to change and the adaptive powers of the brain. Many of us suffer from procrastination, rumination about “what might happen” or “what others might think.” In many cases it’s that monkey talking in their mind that is affecting their ability to change and act. These fixed patterns in our brain dictate our lives for over 50% according to a Harvard study and in order to change these patterns, people have to rewrite their program—exercise and new experience are tools to do just that. Especially combined with mindful practices it has the potential for the perfect cocktail towards a healthier bodymind connection and the realization of flow.
Developments in neuroscience and the overall bodymind connection are going through the roof. This experiment is science based but we have had subjective parameters that we could not avoid. Like the dopamine release in relation to problem solving or when cycling to a mountain top and how that affects mood, motivation or creative problem solving for example. Or how the practice of “being present” translates into focus or reaching flow states. In our next phase we aim to measure — before and after — heart rate variability and its effect on the (para)sympathetic nervous system.
This experiment and cycling adventure was a compelling way to showcase the process of what we like to call, like in the book, reinventing or reprogramming ourselves. Experienced based. Deeper into the physical (borders) and novelty, and training the mind’s perception of reality. Like a muscle. Accepting and reframing the negative towards a positive approach — all while immersed in awareness.
For the record, there are no shortcuts and we are not selling anything. A constant awareness cannot be achieved in a 3 month program. It’s a conscious effort to start and continue the proces by yourself. Claudio has physically and mentally prepared for the cycling adventure with Mark. He didn’t have an exact idea what his journey was going to be like. He took a dive into the unknown which activates presence and sharpens ones senses. Before cycling he worked on his fixed patterns and habits—which is a journey in itself. To give an idea: he practiced the formation of new habits, mindfulness, carving a new morning routine and getting himself acquainted with meditation. Look at this phase like a detox and preperation for the journey.
Conclusion & follow up
The experiment has been succesful and looks promising. There have been concrete changes made by Claudio. Changes that seemed like crossing another difficult border just like being on the road. We won’t get into detail about the outcome yet, also because we want to give it time before drawing conclusions too fast. But promising it is. And that is exactly why we are now aiming for a follow up journey with a small group of people.