Riding a Bicycle and My Nervous System

“I can’t ride a bike.”

 I’ve said that so many times in my life and the reaction is always, “oh really, why!!?”

I don’t know why I never learn to ride a bike;

all my siblings ride bicycles, so it wasn’t an issue of space or logistics;

 I never got beyond my training wheels, and I don’t know why! I’ve tried riding a bicycle a few times, but it was too stressful, and the fear of falling down and breaking my neck was very present.

 During our vacation in the summer, my kids wanted to rent bicycles and stroll through the streets of Hamburg. And like many times before, the answer was,” Mommy can’t ride a bike, so we can’t do that! Fortunately, they were old enough to go on their own, and I was amazed by how courageous they are to ride joyfully and without worry or fear. So I tried the scooter (electric) I thought that was safe and straightforward. But that was also terrifying, and I was sure I’m gonna fall down and hurt someone as well. 

Then I got on a scooter with my husband (which again I thought was easy) who will be controlling it, and I trusted his ability and skill. That was even more terrifying!! and too stressful that I couldn’t stay for long. Later, after learning about the nervous system, calibration, and how my body reacts to stress. I realized that no matter how much I can convince myself mentally that I was safe, my nervous system goes into survival mode. That was something beyond my control at the time, and force will not work. that is a really a survival issue, and I don’t know if it’s something deeper what is in play so I know that I cannot and will not try to bike if I keep

I’ve promised myself by the end of EFC (Embodied facilitator course) I would know how to ride a bike. I decided to cut the bullshit, stop procrastinating, and get on the bike! Knowing my nervous system, I was very gentle. It was a kind and loving negotiation between the state of my nervous system and feeling safe on the bike, taking it very slowly, five minutes at a time. Centering and reassuring my nervous system and myself that it’s OK. When I learn to hit the break and not get overwhelmed with fear falling, I started getting better and five minutes 10 to 10 minutes. So now I don’t have to say I don’t know how to ride a bike I know how to ride a bike, and I wanna keep practicing till I feel safe enough to ride on the streets. I don’t think I would have been able to achieve this with force, and just determination and putting my mind to it! Gentle small calibrated steps helped my nervous system realize that it safe, and it doesn’t need to go into survival mode on the bike. 

Understanding and taking care of my nervous system has been, and is, life-changing.

I understand my responses and reactions better.

 I’m more able to take care of my self and know when I need to slow down. 

It is also helping me be a better parent, as I understand how my kid’s nervous system, I’m able to understand and deal with their behaviors. 

I’m still learning and educating myself on this topic, and finding amazing teachers in this field, here are some of my favorites. 

Irene Lyon 

Stephen Porges

Somatic Experiencing 

Books 

Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Video

Ten things you need to know when healing early trauma

Stephen Porges on the Link Between Feeling Safe and Making Change

The Polyvagal Theory. Explained.

4 thoughts on “Riding a Bicycle and My Nervous System”

  1. Faten Abdulghani

    I like the broadcast and the idea I have many subjects to discuss
    Why we care about others
    Why I need love and care

  2. Your lovely, beautiful story of the desire to become “bike-balance capable” reminds me of the poetics of childhood: boundless sensuality, confidence & a need for self-love — beyond measure — arguably more than in any other period of life. 

    These elements can be referenced to children & balance here:

    http://childrenandnature.ning.com/profiles/blogs/using-nature-as-the-great
    & another simple story is here: http://childrenandnature.ning.com/profiles/blogs/mastering-balancenatural

    For an overview on Porges/Polyvagal:
    https://www.academia.edu/4900776/PolyVagal_Facial_Muscles_and_Trauma_Therapy

    Those wishing to take a “metaphorical” deep dive into Polyvagal theory (see the latter part of this):
    https://www.academia.edu/30935679/ASMRStudies

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