Last week I was gifted an incredible experience! I went to Yellowstone National Park to teach yoga, to camp, and I learned how to fly fish. To say it was great wouldn’t even start to describe the magic of being deep into the backcountry of Yellowstone.
We had to hike 10 miles to our campground that is right next to ‘Heart Lake’, inside the park. We had 12 llamas carry most of our gear. I had on a day pack that consisted of a rain jacket, snacks, two jugs of water, my journal, and bear spray on my hip
I am not on top of the food chain;that was the first lesson out in nature. There is some serious real nature out in Yellowstone. Grizzly bears, black bears, and bison are among the most dangerous to encounter. As we walked away from the sound of the road, the need to call out, “Hey, bear” to scare them away became more necessary for us to be safe.
As we hiked into the vast nature with geysers exploding around us and seeing all the various flowers and trees, it helped remind me that we are but on this earth plane for a moment in time. A precious breath in the infinite.
When we arrived to the beautiful meadow, that we would call home for the next 4 days, we set up camp and happily sat on pine tree benches to rest after the long hike in. Just before we started dinner, a massive storm rolled in. My friend Kristy and I were trapped in our tiny tent unable to see what was going on outside other than the flashes of light and hard hits of rain.
Again, I am in awe of nature and all of her power and beauty! The next day, we gear up and walk down to the lake to start our first day of fly fishing. This was my first time to try it! My fly fishing instructor starting teaching us about the different casts; I noticed I started to feel anxious. I wasn’t getting it right away, I thought ‘I’m horrible at this’.
First Lesson: Patience
My first lesson from fly fishing, patience. Patience across the board. Patience, to learn how to cast and patience to wait for the fish to bite. In our edited world, it seems that one has to be master right away to get a pic for instagram, or it’s not good enough.
When I finally relaxed and stopped worrying about outcome, I took some deep breaths, centered myself, and then, it all clicked. I finally got my cast down, I now had the trying task of catching one of these little guys.
Second Lesson: Take Action!
That brings me to my second life lesson from fishing, action. Take action, don’t wait. Once you see your fly disappear, you have to ‘strike up’ on the pole to get the hook to hook in the mouth (it’s okay we used barbless and released all fish). Sometimes, I rushed it, and the fly came back out of the water and I’d hook myself with the hook. Sometimes I was too slow and I’d lose the fish. And sometimes, I was just right and got my fish on the line.
I thought, wow, how much like life. When you get the opportunity to strike at something, how do you do it? Do you go too fast? Do you go too slow? Or do you have the perfect response and action?
Third Lesson: Let em’ run,keep the tension!
Once you get the fish on the line you need to keep the tension. The ‘tension of life’ could be keeping a client interested in what you are offering, or a date, or anything! Tension creates desire; when I had the fish and I could feel him swimming around, I wanted to bring it in.
This brings me to my third lesson in fishing, let em’ run! I had a hard time with this kind of fishing. Once I caught the fish, I immeditably just wanted to start bringing him in, but you have to let them ‘run’ or the fish gets away because the tension was too great. The hook just pops right out of their mouth.
One can think about it like this as well, fire needs space to breathe to stay lit, fish need to run so you can catch them A client needs to feel like you aren’t over selling them, so you let it ‘run’.
In the dance of letting them run, you can slowly start to bring the fish towards you. Moving it side to side, bringing it closer to the net and then… it’s yours.
All the while you must remain patient, calm, and centered. The moment you loosen any of those qualities, your fish is gone. When you rush you stumble, you pull too hard, this is you moving from your ego.
When I centered myself, it was almost like the fish let me catch him. We had a symbolic connection of energy. We all want to be caught and chosen in some way. Be it relationships, work, the ‘kick ball team’, everyone wants to feel chosen. The centered mindset of the person who ‘catches’ you worked for you, put effort into you, and you put effort into them. We test them, to see if they are strong enough, present enough, and worthy enough.
How we love ourselves is in the knowing that we are worth it just Like the beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroat fish. I worked hard to catch that fish! I put myself out there! I Tried something new and felt my edge and expanded more profoundly that I thought I would being out in nature for four days.
The fish knows he’s worth it; because they fight for you to catch them. You have to get the right fly, be at the right place at the right time, wait, more waiting, the waiting continues, and then finally, fish on the hook! The game isn’t over, you need to keep the tension and let him run and finally bringing it in for the win.
Keep the patience, lose perfection, and go with the flow is my new mantra from my experience in Yellowstone. I recommend EVERYONE plan a trip to be in nature. Just unfettered, raw, nature and let it reform and recreate you like it does the rocks and landscape.