I was fast approaching the big 4-0 and all was good. Except that I was conscious that I could not ride a bike. I recalled years of holidays and days out where I have cursed my parents for failing to teach me this basic skill. To be fair my dad did try to teach me – once, in 1980 I think. But he seemed not to enjoy it. We never went out again.

I had long wanted to address this, but had no idea where to start. I had no sense of balance and the intellectual gymnastics of how my weight could be perfectly distributed between the thicknesses of two narrow wheels seemed impossible to grasp.

But nonetheless, I was determined to nail it before my 40th birthday.

My start came out of the blue, when I read a tweet from a friend. ‘Balance cannot be achieved by standing still’ she said. This was the mental model I needed, to see that every act, even of walking, was in fact a process of falling. Falling and correcting, over and over again.

I searched my vast library of esoteric books, and re-read something I had investigated many years earlier, but at the time has failed to make sense of. The Middle Pillar Exercise.

The Practice

The full procedure is best described here, but in my view much of it is unnecessarily long winded and over-ritualised. I settled on a simple practice that involved the imagination and visualisation of a spinning ball of bright white light directly above the head. A stream of light emerges out of the bottom of that sphere and proceeds directly, straight down into and through my skull and my brain, into my throat, where it forms again as a sphere. These two spheres should be seen swirling powerfully.

The cord then continues down from the throat to the diaphragm, where it forms another sphere and then again directly straight down to the genitals, forming another sphere, and then finally vertically to the feet where it forms the final spinning sphere. See all spheres – in bright white – connected and spinning. It takes a bit of practice, especially when imagining this happening inside your body, rather than in front of it. Eventually I built up the practice to 30 repetitions per day, every day, over a 3 month period.

The immediate results were astonishing, greater energy, clearer skin, loss of weight, change of diet to name only a few. But the ultimate value I sought was in the ability to balance myself perfectly, centrally. Connected and supported – in a very real way – from above and below me.

The Test

I finally enrolled on a ‘Bike Riding for Beginners’ course at the local Adult Education Centre.

The tuition was horribly basic and childlike, bordering on humiliation, but toward the end of the first lesson, the tutor introduced ‘free-wheeling’. As we shuffled around she demonstrated, without fanfare, how to engage the pedals. There was no time to think, only to do. I had expected very little, but to my amazement I was instantly away! Riding. A. Bike! The seconds ticked on and I was still there, more seconds, more seconds. My God. I could actually do it!

By the time I reached the other end of the car park the enormity of it had overwhelmed me, and I burst into tears as I realised that I had finally healed decades of regret and resentment. It was a joyous day! Truly life changing, and instructive, on a number of levels. It showed me that:

  1. Everybody has stuff they need to work on. It is not ‘alright for them.’
  2. It is never too late to resolve your stuff. Ever.
  3. Growth is not always about necessity. I didn’t have to do this. I could have continued to avoid it. But I wanted to solve it. Growth can be a choice.
  4. Nothing comes from nothing. Pleasant thoughts alone do not a happy life make. It takes effort.

And finally, most importantly – Magic works. The Middle Pillar Exercise is a magical ritual, pure and simple. It was not positive thinking, affirmations, Reiki or distance healing that enabled me to achieve this feat. It was a daily discipline, a routine of old and powerful magical processes that brought personal transformation. There were no robes worn or strange words intoned, but the results showed themselves anyway. Magical purists might say that this is a perversion of the true practice of the Middle Pillar, but for my mind, learning to ride a bike just prior to my 40th birthday is one of the most powerful, constructive and spiritual experiences I have ever had.

Magic is not for flakes or mentalists, and many kinds of people now incorporate it into their daily lives. It provides a source of balance. But it is a balance that cannot be achieved by standing still.