indfulness is not new, but in 2016 you’re more likely to know someone who actually incorporates the practice into their life than, say, 10 years ago. It’s a meditative technique that involves focusing on the present moment, and the concept really took off in 2012 with the arrival of the hugely successful mindfulness app Headspace, a 10-minute online routine practised by an estimated six million people worldwide. Loved by celebs and stressed-out execs alike, it’s a phenomenon that has made its British, Buddhist monk creator Andy Puddicombe a multi-millionaire.
It may be tempting to dismiss mindfulness as hippy claptrap, but there’s evidence that it not only helps make you feel less stressed, but could actually improve performance on the bike. That’s why I decided to put my natural cynicism to one side and see if I could use mindful techniques to get faster.
Before rushing off to buy an orange robe and some grown-up colouring books, though, I thought it would be useful to understand a bit more about the principles involved.
Professor Mark Williams, emeritus professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University and former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
‘It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us,’ Williams says. ‘It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living “in our heads” – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.’
For cyclists this can be interpreted in myriad ways, from noticing how your feet feel when you’re pedalling, to the heaviness
Mindfulness is not just about colouring books. By being more aware of your body and environment, you could become a better rider