The Spiritual Lessons I Learned on the Back of a Harley Davidson!
This past summer I stepped once again way out of my comfort zone and ventured into a world that was brand new to me.
Mr. G (my fiancée) and I have ridden motorcycles together with me as the passenger in the past, mostly in India – but being on the back of a scooter or Royal Enfield for shorter trips here and there, lasting a few days or thereabouts, and on Indian roads where although the traffic can be challenging, the pace is a much slower one and the roads far more compact, it is a totally different experience to the one we were planning across parts of North America for the summer.
What we were about to embark on was nothing new to Mr. G – he has been doing long rides and tours both in India, Thailand, Canada, and North America for years and is very experienced. I, on the other hand, felt as though I was entering into territories uncharted and although I was totally up for it, I hadn’t factored in just how deep and challenging of an experience it would be for me.
Of course, with challenge comes growth and expansion and I couldn’t be happier to be able to bring to you some of the lessons I learned and the profound and moving experiences I had during our trip.
Feel and acknowledge it, learn from it, but do not attach to it
The first few days of riding were exhilarating and exciting! We had no set plan; no real route mapped out! It was freeing and enabled us to live truly in the moment. Since the Harley is a large and powerful motorcycle, and the roads in the US are multilane and directional, I wasn’t going to take any risks with my safety.
Although Mr. G is a fully competent rider, I wanted to be able to relax fully in the knowledge that no matter what might happen, I had done all I could to protect myself. We got kitted out with brand new top of the range protective gear, again a very new experience for me – swapping my usual summer attire for thick, tightly fitting riding pants with knee pads and a jacket with specific material and attachments for different weather conditions, also well-padded in key areas. But I went with the flow and got carried away color coordinating my new ensemble – it was fun!
I loved my new shiny white helmet at first, and then, very quickly, believe it or not, the helmet and I began a deeply transformational journey together that took me completely by surprise.
I have worn helmets before and have felt the weight of them, the effects of them on my neck, head and shoulders during and after riding, but I was not prepared for the pain I would experience in the first days with my shiny white new Shoei helmet. It turns out that it is fairly common for a new helmet to take some time to mold into the shape of your head, they need to be tight for total protection, and that made sense to me.
But the pain really got to me – it was agony and at times reduced me to tears. I also felt angry though – that such a silly thing could cause me such misery and discomfort. I was shocked at how much tension I was feeling in my jaw joints and jaw muscles, and my temples were on fire – I felt put out that my body was not responding how I wanted it to. I was so mad at the freaking helmet – and I was mad at the pain. And then after a few days of fighting against it, I changed my approach and with time my experience changed too – for the better.
I remembered the last time I was severely sick about five years ago, and how I had had a similar journey with the pain and discomfort and myself for fighting against it. I had learned from and shifted a lot during that time in my life, and I had been applying the method in areas of struggle since – so why was the darn helmet such a blow? When something unwanted or uncomfortable comes to us or from within us, we tend to panic and often feel fearful – like I did with the helmet pain. I was afraid that my entire trip would be ruined by being in intense pain each day for up to six hours a day.
When we try to control, change or manipulate something, or make the issue go away as fast as we can by barging at it, we aggravate it, and then when none of those things work, we latch onto it, thinking about it, obsessing about it, and we only make it bigger and more steadfast than it needs to be.
I know, it can be easier said than done, at times, but it will not dissipate until we assimilate what it came to teach us. The next time you are in a situation that brings you pain or discomfort, whether physical, mental or emotional, feel and acknowledge the situation and your feelings completely. Being real and honest is the first step and is far more productive than internalizing your emotions or brushing the situation under the carpet. And then explore the meaning, everything has a deeper meaning, life is always speaking to us, communicating to us through life situations – letting us know what will help us to feel, be and experience life better than before and what we might need to release or change in order to do so.
Then, as quickly as you can, take the new awareness and apply it – be willing to try and new approach, and in doing so the struggle or problem will pass much quicker. We do not need to become or embody each and every issue we encounter, they instead can be like the hands that mold the clay, the pressure that shapes the diamond or in my case, the helmet that re-molds the head!
Let go and trust
Each morning we would set off from our location and start a day of riding, starting as early as we could manage to so as to beat traffic, the scorching heat and sometimes rain. Although Mr. G and I had communicated well, a good understanding of a loose outline for the travel day, and each knowing well the needs and preferences of the other, and we even had a bluetooth operated intercom system within our helmets enabling us to chat if we needed to, it wasn’t always possible to have my needs met at every turn though.
The bottom line was that he was both navigator, coordinator and general decision maker – it made total sense that it would be that way, he was the one doing the riding and I was the passenger - but there were times when it troubled me that I was not at all in control of anything at all during the riding time. Even the simple things like when to go to the bathroom, when to stand up and walk around, drink water or eat food – things we take for granted, or at least I have done so for the last couple of decades, especially since being my own boss, were under his jurisdiction. It sounds trivial perhaps, but it hit me hard.
I was intrigued by how challenging it was for me, mentally, emotionally and at times physically to not be able to act instantly when an impulse or urge came upon me.
I watched myself go through feelings of irritation, feelings of helplessness and then the appearance of resentment towards the poor guy, as if he was ‘doing something to me’. I witnessed how my mind started to go into story mode! There would often be stretches of road where there were no rest stops for miles, or if there was a stopping point, the food choices might be limited for vegans.
For the most part our needs for rest, food and bathroom breaks coincided, there was never any major deprivation – it really wasn’t as severe as it may sound. But for the ego self, my lower self - it was a chance to pipe up and create problems where there really were none. Being on the back of a Harley Davidson for hours each day exposed some of my remaining ‘victim’, and although it was tough, I’m glad it happened – I am glad I was aware enough to see what was happening and correct it first within myself and to catch it before it ruined the trip.
Control, autonomy and self-governance are all valuable and important elements of being human, but I have found that to be truly free in life though, we can all practice letting go of being in total charge of everything for a while. Firstly, being able to find peace when nothing is known or certain is a great advantage – and even though our old conditioning may lead us believe that when we are not in control we are left in a weakened or vulnerable state, it is in fact a huge sign of strength.
Having the ability to first trust in a bigger force, whatever that may be or feel like to you, and your interaction with it and that when our own individual needs and desires are known and clear to us, our energy speaks louder than our words.
When our own inner world is crisp, clear and succinct and we are aligned with and behind our own needs and desires, by default, life will bring to us what we want and need without much delay through our energetic vibrational expression. Oh, and watch out for those victim-based stories you might be telling yourself too – it never ends well!
Be open to everything – life is always happening for you
Admittedly and inevitably, we did encounter some friction along the way, with each of us having a slightly different idea on which route to take, or which direction to go in at times, and although it all worked out amazingly beyond imagination in the end - (it always does) and we had the trip of a lifetime along the way, I had another chance to practice one of my favorite spiritual lessons and witness it working even more potently in a magnified container.
Being able to watch the instant effects of several of the universal laws was so much fun. The law of detachment allows us to disengage from what we state we want, releasing the ‘neediness’ we might feel towards the desire, (a partner, money, a specific outcome, a travel route!) which depending on what it is can be a tough thing to do.
We often fear that we are sending mixed messages to the Universe about how serious we are about having whatever it is we want. I recommend taking a step back next time you feel that you really want something or need things to be a certain way. Give yourself time and space to look closely at what you want. Then, ask yourself ‘why do I want that?’.
There is no dispute that your desires are real, valid and powerful, but we must check in with them often, to avoid drama, attachment and above all blocking life’s bigger and better gifts that are literally lined up around the block waiting for you to be ready.
In practicing this myself on the back of a Harley, I stacked up the biggest list of blessing along the way, ones that I could never have imagined or had received had I not been open and willing to be flexible. I saw sights that touched me deeply and ticked things off my bucket list that were not even on there prior. The feelings of joy and childlike wonder I felt when we accidentally stumbled upon hundreds of wild sea lions in Santa Cruz, California for example, will never ever leave me.
Faith will carry you when nothing else can
I believe we can get through anything in life first off with a connection to our own higher self, and also a connection with a benevolent source of loving support, comfort, and assistance. (God, Universe, Divine, Spirit - your choice!)
I myself am living proof of this and I have found myself on my knees countless times in the past in a state of total surrender, gratitude and openness for divine intervention to step in when I don’t have the answers, recourses, courage or strength. Affirmative prayer is not about demanding something and trusting that it’ll turn up or turn out in the way we want it to, rather it is the deep and very real feeling of being taken care of and not being alone.
True faith is a tough one to explain to you – a bit like trying to describe the taste of sweet ripe strawberries if you’ve never had them before.
All I can say is I believe faith can only come in increments, it is not something generally that you wake up with from one day to the next – but take it from me if you will, it is totally worth your time testing it out. I often say to my clients you can borrow a bit of mine until you find your own and proceed to tell them true stories of the Universe’s loving interventions.
When I allowed myself to relax and lean on my faith to support me in moments of discomfort, anxiety or impatience while on the back of the bike, the experience took on a totally different depth of joy and exhilaration. I became like the kid in a candy store excited to climb into my seat every morning, see what we could find and to taste each experience with vigor. I reached a higher state of letting go than ever before and allowed and watched with eagerness as the universe directed our journey through Mr. G’s intuition, urges and ideas.
I became super present and savored each experience with appreciation, I valued each encounter and conversation with strangers as if it were sacred.
And as the days rolled by, I enjoyed the experience of each new version of myself that would show up in every new town, city or state we visited. I began to relish my time in silence on the back of the bike, in communion with the natural world, the mountains, rivers, canyons, lakes and oceans – each of them reflecting the truth that belongs to all of us - and that we will all do well to hold close to our hearts and at the fore of our minds.
Nothing is by chance, everything is connected, and everything is perfect as it is, right now, moment to moment, and there are no exceptions to this. Life is always happening for you, never to you and if you can’t have faith right now, you can at least try to have hope.