Zen: A state of focused attention that brings a togetherness of body and mind.
Hypnosis: A state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention.
Fly fishing has a lot of attractive components. Being outdoors, relief from daily irritants, the thrill of catching a fish. One of the attractions is the peace of mind that comes with fishing. There are many ingredients in a fishing trip (equipment, boats, licenses, travel, etc.), but they are all in the service of focusing down to one specific activity, casting and retrieving. Catching fish results from that activity sometimes. Getting skunked may be a disappointment, but it rarely makes the fishing activity seem negative.
Fly casting and retrieving, in their essence, are rhythmic motions repeated countless times. There is a fluidity to the movements, a sense of liquid flow to the mind and body. Zen is often practiced using a bow and arrow to create a "mindless" moment where the body is directed by deep seated impulses instead of thoughts. When first learning to cast, the new fly fisherman becomes mentally entangled in the physical motions of the cast, entangled with thoughts as he "thinks his way through" each move.
Once the technique is learned it becomes a "muscle memory" movement, one where overt thought is no longer employed as it was in the learning phase. There is also a deep seated satisfaction that comes with making a good cast, when the fly lands exactly where intended. This muscle memory allows the mind to settle down, allows thinking to become less overt, and in the finer moments thinking ceases entirely and the fisherman casts and retrieves in a mental state that is at complete rest, and that rest comes through from a relaxed focus. This mental state is not a vacuum, it is created by a seamless focus on the activity without inner chatter.
This is akin to the state of mind that is sought by the Zen practitioners through meditation and repetitive actions like archery. It is also very similar to a state of self-induced hypnosis. While the fisherman is in this mental/physical state of integration and focus and flow, other thoughts are simply not there. He is not thinking of the stressors in his life, not thinking about tomorrow's activities or yesterday's problems. His mind is in a free state, a place where it can rest and be soothed, where it can relax and regenerate.
That state of mind is largely induced by the rhythmic act of casting and back-casting. Not entirely by that, but that is the main key to it.
It is my thought that this restful mind state is largely what keeps us going back to the water time after time. We seek to catch fish, yes, but we go back anyway even when we don't catch fish for many trips in a row, and we still enjoy doing it.
We all know that fishing is relaxing and helps us to cope with life's obstacles - being mindful of how we get into that focused flow of the mind/body can enhance the experience.
Edited by Lloyd5 (07/06/16 08:31 AM)