So I have a confession to make – until last week I couldn’t ride a bicycle.
How could this have happened? You might well wonder… the story behind why as a child I never mastered this almost universal skill (at least here in Australia) isn’tall that interesting so I won’t bore you.
I will say that for the longest time I felt like a bit of a failure because so much of my immediate family is Dutch – and the Netherlands are the spiritual home of thebicycle. What kind of Dutch descendant can’t even ride a bicycle?
Well all that has changed very swiftly I’m pleased to say, and my Deep Mind can take a fair bit of the credit.
When I bought my new (well, second-hand) bike, the woman at the shop had a great perspective: she told me she’d love to be able to experience the challenge of learningto ride as an adult. Well, that was sure encouraging.
One thing I did know was this – no way I was going to be able to nut this particular challenge out with my conscious mind. One thing I know about my conscious mind is this: it is awfully lazy. Way more than most people’s. Its almost like a stupid slug that just wants to hide under a branch and gorge on leaves. We really don’t get on very well.
For example my conscious mind doesn’t like doing anything physical, like pruning the bushes in our garden, or vacuuming the floor, or typing up these journal entries. It really hates it when I do work on my private practice to improve my therapeutic skills or drum up some business. It hates looking after my belongings, even prized belongings such as my basses and guitars. It just wants to crawl under a mountain and sleep until Ragnarok. Then it will sleep through the death of the gods and happily snore on as the world is reborn.
But I do know that once I get past my sluggish conscious mind I start to have fun. Take that bush pruning I was doing today. “Oh no!” said my conscious mind before I got started. “It will be horrible! You’ll hate it, it will take hours with no reward, it will stop you from doing more important things!”
And yet once I get started, the task becomes fun, energy and blood flows around my body. My mind becomes calmer and things start flowing onward. The rhythm of the work becomes my lord. The slug is covered in a pillar of salt and my whole being begins to make sense again.
Given that this is how I work, I right away had a chat with my unconscious mind. “Unconscious”, I said, “I’m handing this learning to ride a bike thing entirely over to you, because I know that you will do a much better job of figuring it out than I will”. I’m a bit vague on what my unconscious thought about this arrangement but either it was happy to get stuck in or else it quickly came round to the proposition.
Right! So the first ride was at night (to avoid the gratuitous humiliation of having small children utterly outclass me on their two wheeled machines of doom). There is a small car park near where we live and this was to be the practice ground.
Getting there was a nightmare. Even getting started on the thing was almost impossible for me and I couldn’t focus enough to control the pedals, the steering and the brakes all at once. There were lots of very sudden starts and stops, lots of painful jolts, lots of near crashes. And the frustration! I was getting more angry, feeling more incompetent, by the second. My conscious mind was beginning to crawl out from the salt wasteland and suggest, quite forcefully, that I was never going to learn and that I might as well give up.
Well! After a very trying, exhausting and rather embarrassing ride/walk/stumble/crash/fall to the car park, I was feeling pretty tender. At least I’d managed to survive this far.
What followed was really a conversation that went something like this:
Conscious Slug Mind: You can’t do it. Give up.
Conscious Slug Mind: You aren’t fooling me. This is a waste of time. Take the bike back for a refund and stop eating salt.
Conscious Slug Mind: Hah! You fell off again! See?! No chance. None at all.
Me: Maybe this time it will work.
And so on.
Then I find myself managing to ride a full circuit around the car park without going flying. Maybe losing control here and there, maybe giving myself a bit of a chaotic death-spill scare. But getting there.
I’ve never experienced Bike Consciousness before. By this point I am really starting to love it. Its all about the motion, the rhythm, the movement. Its the ultimate anti-conscious mind, anti-slug state.
So! First attempt was a smashing success. By trusting in my unconscious mind I had the basics down in about 10 minutes (even though it seemed like endless hours).
The next night I went out riding and got a lot more adventurous. Too adventurous. I managed to go soaring through the air and smashed myself to smithereens. Blood, bruises and battered ego all over the place. Worst of all I knocked the chain off my bike and, in the darkness, couldn’t see to put it back on. Yep, I had to walk back home with tail between legs. Despite that the night had still been a success – and it was probably good for me to hurt myself.
I took a few nights off, but on ride number three I learned two important lessons.
1) Few things beat conquering a hill on a bike. The hill I took down would probably be scoffed at by any ordinary rider, for me it was a victory. I am already on the hunt for bigger challenges to surmount. Slug mind doesn’t like rehearsing for victory in this way – more salt on its rubbery skin.
2) My unconscious mind likes to remind me who is in charge. When I started congratulating myself on how clever it was to give over the task of learning to ride to my unconscious, it suddenly stopped helping me. I almost went straight into a tree. Right! Have to remember not to let my ego mind take credit for what my unconscious has achieved.
Well today on my fourth ride I had a great, easy time, and really proved to myself that I can do this. I am now a confident explorer of Bike Consciousness. I like Bike Consciousness. Its a feeling of Going Places that beats Car Consciousness, which is heavily mediated by the chassis, the glass, and the fact that your motion is a product of an engine and not your own bodily strength.
What lessons can be learned from this in terms of trance, altered states, and seidh?
1) Resistance is easy to defeat if you can resist getting intimidated by it. Take small steps into new territory and you can’t go too far wrong.
2) Slug mind hates the salt of action.
3) Pain is your friend. Humiliation and feeling over your head are good helpers – they let you know when you are onto something worth doing.
4) Your unconscious mind wants to help you explore new states of being, but you have to trust it. And give it its fair due. Oh – and you should ask for its help. It won’t know that you want its help if you don’t pay it the courtesy of asking.
I’m planning on using the lessons I’ve learned from my bike in other areas of my life. Fingers crossed that bike consciousness can inspire other ways for me to salt the hell out of my sluggish conscious ego mind.
Incidentally, the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem for Raido reads something like this (depending on the translator):
riding is easy in the hall
but hard for the one who rides
on a powerful horse on a long road
There’s really no substitute for getting out there and taking on the salty challenge of doing. You can interpret the rider as the ego self and the horse as the unconscious or Deep Mind if you like (though I have no idea if that is what the poem’s author had in mind).
Getting out there IS hard, but I really recommend learning how to expand/contract/mutate/dissolve/multiply/unify consciousness with the expert help of your horsey unconscious. Boy, I look forward to taking my own advice more, too.
Slug mind – you are on notice! Hiding in the cozy warmth of the homestead might seem like the perfect plan for your life, but it breeds stinky stagnant mollusc-mind.
I’ve had this growing relationship to salt for a while – salt as a kind of alchemical agent, a producer of transformation. I think about salt a lot in terms of its role in the Norse creation myth (I’ve even written some lyrics about this!) Writing this little piece has brought into focus for me one more aspect of why salt is a friend of consciousness transformation. Shake it!