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The Ten Zen Principles of Good Motorcycle Riding Habits

Leslie Reyes, BSN, RN

The Zen Buddhist concept of "How a person does any one thing, is how a person does everything" was something I understood intellectually, and I knew it could change my life, if only I could find a way to put it into action.  

I had been aware that a lot of my habits in life were just plain bad, and they were making me more anxious and depressed than I already was.   Childhood trauma and clinical depression had led me to develop some bad habits in life.  Depression always seemed  to lead to impulsiveness, which only led to more anxiety and depression.  A vicious cycle that inevitably compounded a lack of faith in myself.  I would change my habits for a short period of time, but  just couldn't figure out how to make good habits stick.

I recently got my motorcycle license, and I ride a 2017 Kawasaki KX85 dirt-bike, and a 2021 Zero S Electric street-bike.   When I first started to learn how to ride, I realized my old habit of just "winging it" was not going to work.  So came up with some habits I wanted to develop in order to be able to ride. I soon started noticing little changes in my behavior in other areas of my life.  

It wasn't the motorcycles by themselves that changed my life. Rather, it was what I needed to change about myself in order to successfully learn how to ride them that was life-changing."

These are the habits I started to develop both on and off the motorcycle:

"The Ten Zen Principles of Good Motorcycle Riding Habits" 

  1.  Respond to situations, instead of reacting

  2. Look in the direction you want to go, not where you don't want to go

  3. Practice mindfulness, focusing on what you're doing, when you're doing it, and in the correct order

  4. Understand and respect your own limitations, and set your own pace

  5. Be prepared and think and plan ahead

  6. If you fall, get back up

  7. If you break something, fix it

  8. If you don't know something, learn

  9. Practice good habits often and commit yourself to the process

  10. Enjoy the Ride

It  isn't just about the temporary rush of a good ride on a motorcycle that can be life-changing.  When you start applying the habits you practice on a motorcycle to other areas of your life, that is when you will start noticing real change, and inner peace."