In 2017 during my corporate stint, I was under stress and suffering from anxiety. The demanding work culture and non-stop pursuit to meet never ending deadlines, sustained pressure situation, resulted into lack of confidence. I had began doubting my abilities, remained fearful and was reluctant to speak-up. Even though frustration was the dominant feeling, I managed to practice self-control and did not vent out or revolted. It is not in my nature to rebel or retaliate. But the mountain of negative emotions had reached its threshold. So in the following year, I quit to move away from an atmosphere which I felt was worsening my mental health.
2018 was also the year in which I reunited myself with cycling. Although the urge to get back on the saddle was sprouting since 2013/14, somehow my work commitments delayed it. ‘Better late than never’, a new bicycle finally found my home.
I always wanted to write to express my thoughts, give an opinion, share observations or simply pass on my experiences to a larger audience. It translated into an idea of starting a blog where I could nurture my writing skills. My knowledge of digital and social media formed an alliance with cycling activities resulting into creation of pedal and tring tring. From past 18 months, I am consistently publishing articles around cycling and travel stories. And thankfully, my work has received a decent response and appreciation worldwide. Every positive comment is an earning for me, it fuels my passion and keeps me alive.
The trio of cycling, writing and social media has earned me respect, and given me my own identity. Cycling played a critical role in transforming my state of mind as I feel a lot more independent, confident and vocal compared to the individual I was couple of years ago. Through cycling, I have become more resilient and socially active.
Cycling allowed me to explore and know my city better. With pedal power, the city of Mumbai appears very different… everyday chaos on streets, new routes, road surfaces, potholes and inconsistent humps, art deco buildings and heritage sites, construction projects and workers grinding in tough weather conditions, the contrast of slums, hawkers and plush commercial estates… and the subtle nuances hidden in the nook and corner could only be surveyed on a bicycle.
Cycling also taught me to accept failure and not shy away from carrying the tag. Failure is the best master, a passport to success! Not having a fancy designation, fat salary package, personal cabin with an overwhelming view and annual trips to exotic destinations does not make me a lesser person. I have learnt to survive with limited stuff and do good work.
As a cyclist, I was able to make both real and virtual friends. And I now frequently engage with cycling experts around the world and have even collaborated with few for my articles. Bicycling has opened up new avenues for knowledge exchange and helped establish meaningful connections.
I could remodel my situation because of the self ‘Belief’ and by all means with family support. ‘Absolute’ belief makes us chase certain goals or outcomes that we hold in our mind. We aim to be absolutely perfect in everything and expect the system to reciprocate. And on many occasions, we carry the desire of ‘Approval’ from others, i.e., people should like everything we do. The two set of beliefs makes us anxious when they go unfulfilled according to our perception. Because the response is not what we anticipate, hence we feel dejected.
The strategy to maintain ‘Positive’ beliefs is to establish ‘Effective’ beliefs and discard the negative ones. Being absolutely successful in what we do or seeking likability from external sources endangers our emotional well being and causes undue pressure. Happiness is accepting what we are and enjoying the little we are blessed with.
Our ‘Actions‘ have certain ‘Consequences‘ but in between our ‘Beliefs‘ can alter those consequences. The recipe for contentment is focusing on present, valuing yourself and appreciating your efforts, thereby you will attract admiration and recognition even from others. By applying this ABC therapy into my practical life, I have put myself in a healthier position. Am more attached to myself with minimal dependence on others viewpoint and detached from a cosmetic life.
Today, there are many people going through mental illnesses and unfortunately, they find hard to battle depression, sadness, fear and frustration. MPOWER MINDS helps such people to tackle mental health issues and challenges the social stigma. ‘It’s ok not to be ok’ is the tagline which they promote using a hashtag.
Founded by Ms. Neerja Birla, Mpower minds is a movement to affect change, to promote mental health and well being in the most holistic manner. The Mpower centre provides mental health solutions to children, adolescents, the youth and their families to stamp out social stigma.
The founder Neerja Birla, is a fitness freak herself and believes ‘what affects the body affects the mind’. So it is essential to take care of our bodies to take care of our minds.
Ride to Mpower is an annual event which brings together all the cycling enthusiasts to spread awareness and take a pledge and support this mental health cause.
The ride format has two categories 15 kms and 27 kms. This year, the ride was flagged off by Aditya Thackeray, Environment and Tourism Minister of Maharashtra, Praveen Pardeshi, Municipal Commissioner BMC and Neerja Birla.
The post ride event included Zumba dance with music, photo booth for cancer awareness, selfie points, participation medals, breakfast and water stalls.
Like every year, the guest delivered a short speech on stage about mental health and distributed prizes. Spot prizes were given to youngest and oldest participants, to a cyclist with most fancy helmet, a participant who was celebrating his birthday, and the one who arrived first at the venue to attend this community ride. All of them received gift vouchers.
The organizers invited this years Mental Health Champions – Dr. Adwait Jadhav, Ms. Firoza Suresh, Zaara Syed, Chetan Shah, Saurabh Punamiya, Abdul Kazi, Buddy Riders and Kalyan Cycling Foundation and felicitated them for supporting this cause.
The grand prize this year was a BMW hybrid bicycle. The organizers had set up an LED touch screen panel on the main stage backdrop with a button ‘Generate’ and a numeric counter set on zero, to pick a winner through a lottery system. The first number which came up on screen was BIB no. 2024 but the participant didn’t turn-up. *Must have left the venue early or registered and didn’t appear for the ride is what am assuming.
In the subsequent attempts for finding a new owner for the BMW bicycle, the computer generated BIB no.’s – 2638, 1450, 1370 and 1186. None of these registered BIB owners were present. This created further excitement amongst the audience as they could fancy their chances. The drama ended on the sixth attempt as BIB no. 2251 appeared on stage and claimed his stake on the BMW bicycle.
The event closed in a ceremonial way with photo opportunities along side the distinguished guest.
This was my 3rd year of participation and I feel MPowered attending this community celebration every year.
You can follow Mpower on instagram: @mpowerminds
Enjoy this photo tour of Ride to Mpower 2020 event:
Photographs by Ravi Agarwal, Abhinav Tandon, Chetan Shah, Husain Mamuwala, Mpower minds.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai