My words will only get in the way of what @le chuck is after here so I’ll stand aside.
Three aluminum drums, three inches in diameter, twelve inches in width. Smooth and glossy on the ends, black track marks down the centerline. They are bolted to a steel frame upon which my bicycle rests – for now. This apparatus is my lunch. When I ride on it, I suffer by my own choice. I suffer because I want to. I have to. I have to suffer right here at 1100hrs, here in the hallway. (Seriously, I can’t leave the clinic until the nurses say I can).
These days I don’t feel hungry around 11:00 (as I did as a medical student). Instead I feel gently excited. I’m fed by something much different than food. At eleven o’clock, I fuel my body with something that arises out of conscious suffering. The ebb and flow of the bike, how it moves and sways with the shifting of body-weight. The present moment, a beautiful moment, because it’s a moment that I create out of my own will.
The Hindu scriptures describe Moksha as a kind of liberation of the mind that characterizes the ultimate goal of achieving Nirvana, or, a state of bliss accompanied by un-mediated knowledge and understanding. Medical knowledge is mediated knowledge, in that it comes with conscious effort. What if you could put in some effort to not put in any effort?
I stopped having goals after medical school. Goals happen as a result of your Karma (see also, hard-work, persistence, not being lazy) – and if you’ve already found your Duty (see also, Dharma) – Goals will be achieved incidentally. We need not be distracted by Goals, they are attachments, or, Sankara’s which are little defilements of the mind.
If there is a God, he or she rewards only those who DO, not just those who think about DOING. There’s an adage in the cycling community, “Do all of your thinking before you get on the bike. Free your mind and your legs will follow.” (Strack, et al 2012). Surrender yourself to the bike, the road and your environment. Surrendering will make you You again. Your true self.
Every day at 11’o’clock, I finish my morning clinic and go to the hallway to ride my bicycle on steel cylinders, or “Rollers”. For 25-minutes, my mind is free of troubles and anxieties about the past or future. The anticipation of lactic acid accumulation and resultant pain becomes an item of the preceding moment. When the pedals start to turn, I am living my Karma. My Karma is to suffer and suffer discretely, with dignity.
Some days I suffer a lot, some days I suffer a little. I suffer often and I’m a better man for it. I’m a better doctor for it. I’m a better Naval Officer for it. I am more compassionate, after suffering, towards those who suffer. It is this universal suffering that makes us human – on and off the bike**.
** Note that in compliance with Rule #4, It’s (still, without question, unequivocally) all about the bike.