Shifting Gears, Opening Minds: Lindsey Hunt’s Empowerment Ride Puts Mindfulness on Wheels

Photo credit: ©PatitucciPhoto

Lindsey Hunt is happiest when her wheels are turning and her mind is quiet. In other words, she’s both a dedicated cyclist and an avid meditator. Now Lindsey is combining her passions with the Mindful Revolutions Empowerment Ride across New England, supporting mindfulness nonprofits that are empowering youth, recovering addicts, and underserved populations.

Lindsey folds up her kickstand on July 13 in Hardwick, Vermont, and sets off on a 300-mile trip to Hartland, Connecticut, hopping off her bike to offer mindfulness workshops in communities along the way—and to make a stop at Kripalu at the end of the month. She’ll divide the proceeds from her private sponsors and crowdfunding efforts among half a dozen organizations that are using mindfulness to promote social change, including RISE, Kripalu’s evidence-based program in mindful stress resilience.

Lindsey has been a serious cyclist pretty much since her training wheels came off. But she discovered the power of mindfulness only last year, when she participated in a 10-day silent meditation retreat, which she describes as “jumping into the psychosomatic deep end.”

“It was the most intense, raw, and challenging experience I’ve ever had, and it fundamentally shifted my relationship with myself and how I saw the world,” she recalls. “I was able to see in this clear and distilled way the root causes of why we act as we do, what motivates us, and how mindfulness and compassion can help heal our wounds as a society.”

Lindsey continued her practice of mindfulness and meditation with teachers from Mindful Purpose, Cambridge Insight Meditation Society, and Palouse Mindfulness. Integrating her training in insight meditation and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with her studies in psychology and neuroscience at Middlebury College, she hosts study groups and offers workshops in the Boston area, and has led group sessions for law school students, consultants, hospitals, and engineers.

And her conviction that mindfulness is a key to social change has only become stronger. “Mindfulness can be a tool that starts to heal and restore our neurology, and reshape our mental, physical, and emotional patterns from the inside out—creating a profound, lasting change that ripples out into the world,” Lindsey says.

She chose RISE as a recipient of her Empowerment Ride “because it’s serving people who are leading in their communities,” she says. The program has been delivered to schoolteachers and administrators, healthcare and human services professionals, corporate teams, and law enforcement officers at 114 organizations, totaling nearly 2,000 people—and, by extension, thousands more who are served by these groups. Based in more than 10 years of research, RISE integrates yoga-based mindfulness tools, such as breathing and centering exercises, meditation, strengths identification, mindful listening, and movement, into an accessible, secular curriculum.

An endurance athlete, Lindsey first experienced the intersection between cycling and social change when she participated in a 4,000-mile Bike and Build trip across the United States, raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity.

“That kicked off a huge direction in my life,” she says. “I found that trip so inspirational for the cyclists and for the people we came across. When you travel by bike, it’s very rewarding as an athlete, but there’s also a childlike freedom that breaks down barriers and brings people together.”

Since then, she’s been guiding biking tours at home and internationally, including trips in Italy and France for DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., and journeys for teens down the California coast for Overland summer camps. As part of the Empowerment Ride, she invites locals to join her for maintenance on their wheels as she passes through their area, and community members will be hosting her for meals or overnight. “Every dollar we save in lodging, bike maintenance, and food costs is another dollar we can donate,” she says.

Lindsey is particularly excited about making stops across New England to share mindfulness practices at local community centers, churches, yoga studios, schools, and businesses.

“Mindfulness is not something you can understand on a purely intellectual level,” she says. “You don’t get the benefits from someone telling you about it. It’s about diving in and trying it, with a sense of openness and curiosity. I want to give people a taste—an opportunity to try shifting gears.”

Donate to Lindsey’s Empowerment Ride.

Learn more about Kripalu’s RISE program.

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