Fishing is an age old tradition that has long permitted men to escape the hustle and bustle of city and family life. This relatively in-expensive sport allows for men to get away from the never-ending honey do list and stress of the workplace, allowing for refreshment in the quiet of the great outdoors. Many men benefit from this classic outdoor sport; however, with some small redirection in attention and awareness the benefits of fishing can be bolstered into an exceptional self-care and mindfulness activity. In today’s world, mindfulness has been touted as a therapeutic technique or skill that allows for calming and relaxation, as well as potential insight into one’s experience through this process. By making fishing a mindfulness exercise, the everyman can increase the therapeutic benefit of escaping out onto the water with this time honored tradition, subsequently improving his mental health and well-being.
This first step in turning this sport into a mindfulness exercise begins with pulling one’s self into the present moment. According to a wise old proverb by ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” With this, the present is truly all we’ve got and is a means of helping to alleviate any depression or anxiety that we might be feeling. While fishing, we can get present by truly noticing what we see, hear, smell and feel out on the water. You might watch closely your line and fly, or pay close attention to the moving water. You might notice the sound of the rapids crashing or of the birds nearby, you might smell the cool summer breeze or the mist as it steams away from rapids and you might truly notice the weight and texture of the rod itself. By essentially using all of your senses to notice all that the present moment has to offer, you are well on your way to turning self-care into sport and to finding peace on the water. If you get distracted by some thought, or preferably a fish on your line, simply bring it back to your five-senses and the present moment as soon as you’re able.