Mindfulness, Woo-woo, and Fly Fishing

By Elena Lininger

Co-Founder of Source One Serenity and an Army veteran spouse

Mindfulness is such a buzzword nowadays. According to Google Trends, search for this word on Google has quadrupled in the last 15 years! Mindfulness became not only a tool for psychologists to treat their patients’ stress and anxiety, but some big companies such as General Mills, Aetna, Google and Salesforce swear by mindfulness. For example, in the tallest building of San Francisco, Salesforce Tower there are meditation rooms for employees on every floor. Even elite US special forces went through mindfulness training, and it’s been proven to be a powerful tool to improve their working memory and attention.

There are still some people who consider it as a “woo-woo”. I agree that it is something very different, kind of mysterious and it is intangible (it’s not a pill, right?). Also, the effects of practicing mindfulness through meditation doesn’t happen overnight, but regular practice especially on a daily basis brings the healing aspects. It is scientifically proven that mindfulness can help not only with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness, but also with more creativity and better problem-solving.

A wonderful Whole Health Improvement Program team at the Roseburg VA Medical Center offers a range of different courses and classes around mindfulness to our veterans (almost 13 % of the population in Douglas County are veterans!). I also found out that even in our small rural community there are certified mindfulness teachers.

Sometimes we even don’t realize (and we don’t need to) that we are mindful when we are in certain situations or surroundings. When I am on the North Umpqua River, my senses are engaged: seeing beautiful landscape and moving water that doesn’t stop, hearing water burbling, and smelling something fishy and earthy. There are no thoughts, no judgements. It is an experience of being one-on-one with powerful Nature and Universe. One student under Dalai Lama taught me that “non-judgmental observation is mindfulness.” We in the Umpqua Valley are very lucky with abundant resources to practice mindfulness without knowing it: being in green landscape surrounded by magnificent rivers, streams and waterfalls.

My husband’s life was saved by fly fishing. I did extensive research on this, and I admire that fly fishing is actually a very mindful activity. When you’re standing in the water, looking at the stream flow to cast the line, can you think of anything else than just being there? Unless you are attached to your expectations to catch fish (if you do, then just drop these expectations and be mindful!). Although they say that mindfulness has no side effects, but I know of someone who after a fly fishing retreat reported of being drunk on peace.