Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jadrtovac, Croatia, 30.03.2013.

New found speed spot south of Šibenik. Shallow water, danger for fins when low tide, but looks nice and promising great speeds. Already +40 kt was made here by Pierre Milutin.

Today, rain and clouds, gusty south wind, not so strong. Those two (Pierre Milutin and Mladen Belamarić, both among the fastest in Croatia) are on 7,8.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Soulwindsurf, yoga, meditation and competition

Windsurfers are inclined to understand what is the "soul" component in their sport. It's natural to them to enjoy in it, to feel connected to nature and to be lost in the incredible "flow feeling". However, competitive windsurfers (and other athletes) sometimes think that, if they start to pursue "soul" feelings, that they will lost the edge – literary, that they will have to abandon competition.

In this article, I would like to convince you that this is not true! You can be a soulwindsurfer and, in the same time, very successful athlete. Actually, there is a chance that soul approach will help you improve your results on the sport battlefield!

I spend my youth in sport. For some time I was a semi professional basketball player. I also enjoyed playing baseball (one of the first teams in Croatia) and swimming. Due to extensive trainings, my knees suffered a lot. Once I had a terrible injury and was out for a year of rehabilitation. That, and innumerable minor injuries, did not stopped me from regular training and competition. I was never a first class athlete, but I had my share of success. I know what it means to bite hard if you want to achieve your goals. Even today, (in considerable age of 50) I am not lazy and working hard, always trying to improve something and stay in shape and fit.

However, with time I also understood that all this efforts have a price. Not only in your time and energy, but also in your health. Instead of improving it, you may finished damaging it.

During my twenties and thirties I came in contact with other kind of knowledge: yoga and meditation. At first glance, this two activities are not very much connected with sport. However, yoga has the means to immensely improve your physical abilities (flexibility and static power). Meditation can improve your focus, reduce stress and help you to give your best when needed.

When I came across the book by John Douillard - Body, Mind and Sport, I knew I found the confirmation of my own thinking: this two seemingly different approach may join together and create what I latter called soul/windsurfing (can be "soul" with any other sport, of course).

Douillard was working with world class athletes (for example Martina Navratilova, famous tennis player) proving that different approach can give excellent results, without causing so much stress on mind and body, and actually keeping the fun and enjoyment as part of any training, no matter how serious it is.

Some ten years ago, I myself participate in forming training for a group of young athletes. It was very rewording experience, but unfortunately, I did not pursue this line of work.

But, I am using some of the principles of different training for myself. I firmly believe anyone can use it and improve his or hers results, no matter if they are just amateurs like me, trying to see how much they can improve; or professionals and serious world class competitors.

In the absence of my own systematic materials for developing the soul component in sport, I have to recommend Douillard's book again.

However, I can describe some principles I apply in soul approach to sport.

1. Mental preparation

Calm head, focused mind, determination and will. Peace and relaxation. No stress. A good technique of meditation can give you all of that. There are many techniques available, different in methodology. I prefer and recommend easy, natural ways, not the ones to include great effort (like concentration or visualisations). The best way is to learn to meditate from someone who has experience in teaching. Don't shy away from this – like a windsurfing skill, meditation is a skill to learn.

2. Preparation of the body

Cross training, jogging, running, using different sports, not only your preferable one. This helps you stay in shape, specially during winter time, when there is less windsurfing. As a special addition, I recommend yoga postures to increase your flexibility.

Some principles of nutrition can be added here. Contrary to the usual believes that nutrition for athletes must be concentrated and mainly artificial, my practice (confirmed by Douillard's book and some others) is to give preference to natural foods, rich in carbohydrates, specially the day before competition (or the day you are attempting to improve some of your PB – "personal best"), not so to protein rich food.

It will be to much to speak now about different food for different body constitution – but it is very interesting topic (so, maybe some other time). However, I want to add that I am vegetarian from my 13th birthday (so - 36 years!). I use some cheese, but no eggs, no fish and no milk. There is some discussion about suitability of such nutrition for professional athletes, but Duillard again proves the point that for some kind of sports, vegetarian (or even vegan) nutrition could be the right choice.

3. Warm up

Some say that trimming of the equipment is essential for good results in windsurfing. The same is true with your body. Many (actually ALL!) of the windsurfers I know, skip the warm up exercises before entering the water. That is wrong and can lower your speed (or any) results and of, course, increase the probability of the injury. My estimation: god warm up is 50% of the success on the water. It may look too much, but I firmly believe in that!

The best warm up exercises I know also comes from yoga. So called "Sun salutations" (Surya namaskar) in different variations is excellent way to warm you muscles in no more than 5 to 10 minutes! Also, that can be done with some other exercises from so called "power yoga" (or ashtanga, vinyasa and some other kind of yoga practices more similar to aerobic activities than to traditional passive yoga posture exercises).

4. Breathing techniques

The way you breathe is the way you think, and also the way your muscles work. There are two ways to improve your breathing - two kinds of breathing techniques: before and during sport activities.

One of the best breathing exercises before (similar to warm up of the body) is so called bhastrika or fast pranayama. Again, this is not the place to describe it (some other time). It is a short technique (not more than 2 minutes), which, if applied the right way can increase the level of oxygen in your brain and body. Very useful for short and intense sport activities.

During sport activities, specially if it is longish I practice two breathing techniques. One is again from yoga and it is called ujjai breathing. It is kind of "through the mouth, snoring like, 'dart vader' sounding" breathing. Excellent for long distance runs (or sailing, of course).

The other is my own technique, developed for water sports. Namely, ujjai breathing is hard to do when swimming, or when activity includes sudden moves and ups and downs in muscle activity. Than I use dolphin breath – a simple technique, actually very natural, which includes temporary breath suspension (not too long, though).

Breathing techniques are very efficient in quick achievement of the zone, "in the flow" feeling or, if you like, windsurfing nirvana! Of course, they will improve your abilities, and consequently, improve your results - if that is what you are looking for!

5. "In the flow" principles

Windsurfing naturally accepts and actually demands from a windsurfer to apply some principles which are simple and natural. However, we sometimes tend to forget them. Little refreshment here and there, and also some thinking how they apply in different situation, can be very helpful to keep you in the zone, while in the same time improve your results.

Here are seven basic principles of soul sport:


Much can be said about each one of thise principles. They are kind of mental attitudes transformed into practice.

Just for example: when speedsurfing (or windsurfing in general), the point of least effort (ease) is usually the point you are in when you feel the most in control. By the way, control is an oxymoron in windsurfing. You are never in control, just in balance with wind and equipment. It may seems that this is not so important distinction, but this understanding may help you find that point of least effort. When you find it, you will see that you are the fastest ever!

Searching for ease in windsurfing is a part of soul approach. But, it should not be confused with quiting or avoiding the hardships of sport activities! Quite a contrary, when you find ease in the midst of hard work, than you are on the right soul path!

I could write much more about concrete techniques of soulwindsurfing, and maybe I will in the future. For now, I just wanted to point out that soul approach is possible alternative to usual ways of sport training. It is meant to give you pleasure and fun, to keep your health intact and improved, and, in the same time, to enable you to give the best from your self – to achieve the most you can!

If you are in competition of any kind, that is the alternative you should consider – it may surprise you with efficiency, and, of course, with unforgettable experiences of the zone!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Windy, The Association

Who's peekin' out from under a stairway
Calling a name that's lighter than air
Who's bending down to give me a rainbow
Everyone knows it's Windy

Who's tripping down the streets of the city
Smilin' at everybody she sees
Who's reachin' out to capture a moment
Everyone knows it's Windy

And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds (above the clouds)
Above the clouds (above the clouds)

Who's tripping down the streets of the city
Smilin' at everybody she sees
Who's reachin' out to capture a moment
Everyone knows it's Windy

Friday, March 15, 2013

Did you ever meet a windsurfer on anti-depressants?

I greatly enjoyed reading one unusual and rare text: a thesis presented in a partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Visual and Material Culture. Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, by Peter Francis Wilkinson.

It is a 117 page text, with a lot of science staff, but written well and interesting enough for an average windsurfer to read. However, while reading, you might very soon start to wonder is it an oxymoron to say "average" when addressing the windsurfers?

The question from the title of this article is from one of the chapters of Wilkinson paper entitled equally interesting: "Who needs money when you can go windsurfing? – The Paradox of Resisting Consumerism Through Consumption in a Lifestyle Sport Subculture".

I stumble across Wilkinsons paper by a hint received by unknown friend (@mobednl). It was a love at first sight! A great deal of recognition, and a great deal of agreement. Excellent! Since Wilkinsons Master thesis is available to all, please, you can take it HERE (it's adobe file, takes a little longer to download). If you are really interested, read it. My article is just a set of impressions and random thoughts provoked by this really intriguing work.

Fist, I have to say that every (soul)windsurfer will easily recognise the basic description of his or hers obsession with wind. But, how many did think about it in terms of resistance to mainstream consumerism culture, resistance to cultural expectations or resistance to idea of economic capital as the primary measure of success? Sounds heavy, but can you say it isn't true?

I always knew windsurfers are from their own universe; a special species not only among humans, but also among other sportsmen. It seems that I was right!

Wilkinson writes: "Participants of the windsurfing subculture express through they lifestyle resistance to consumerism, a dominant ideology of our society. In order to pursue this lifestyle, however, individuals must consume quite considerable quantities of material goods. So the question is: what are the participants actually consuming? What motivates them to make sacrifices necessary to participate?"

In order to find the answer, he was, a windsurfer himself, observing, making informal and formal interviews and did a lot of background reading and, of course, good thinking.

Let me start with a question about subculture. I must admit that I never thought about it that way, but actually it is logical and somehow obvious. Wilkinson explains the terminology: he settles with term "lifestyle sport". However, he mentions that there is question about windsurfing being sport at all. I like thinking of Tim Dant who says that it's more like a play, or Belinda Wheaton who mentions the term "art" connected to windsurfing. My opinion, as a hard-core, deep fried, soulwindsurfer – it is all three in one!

Is there a difference between other such sport-no-sport activities and windsurfing (because, there are lot of things out there under the name "extreme", "alternative", "third", "whiz", "panic", "adrenaline" or something like that)?

And, are all those activities also some kind of resistance to mainstream lifestyle? They might be, but windsurfing is nevertheless special and unique among them!


Because, windsurfing actually never make it to the mass attention! The image of windsurfing was used for commercials like an image of freedom and youth, but the action itself was never spread over general population. Unlike some other lifestyle sports which started like obscure activities (mainly board sports, like skateboarding or snowboarding, or maybe mountain biking, paragliding and such) and become commercialized and turned to big business, windsurfing was speared of such bleak fate.

The reasons for that (we, windsurfers are really lucky people!) may be partially in the fact that windsurfing is notoriously hard to learn. You need a lot of hours of practice before you can say you are windsurfing, at least a little bit. This fact goes contrary to demands of modern stressed and make-it-quickly life. Shallow activities, without much commitment, are much more suitable for commercial (ab)use. Again, lucky we – happy windsurfers!

For Wilkinson, as scientist, this is a rare opportunity. Quote: "Windsurfing itself is notable, because it has been speared the co-option of its more popular cousin, so in effect it is an case study of what lifestyle sport is like without the intervention of mass media."

By the way, I can not resist the thought that lately we have the same ongoing process with kite-surfing. Being actually easier to learn (albeit probably more dangerous), kitesurfing will probably make its way to the mass attention and become one of the commercialized so called "alternative", activities. It is just my opinion, but somehow, I feel that windsurfing will endure in it's special status of genuine, authentic freedom giving, lifestyle sport.

The key word is commitment. This is also the determinant of subcultural status in windsurfing. It is reflected not only in the amount of time participants spend in the activity, but where they live, the jobs they take, and the relationships they have. That is how Wilkinson put it, and, of course, he is right. I know it. From personal experience.

Let me say this very clearly: you can't fake being a windsurfer! In most other seemingly similar activities, it is possible to buy a gear, put on some "approved" outfit, hang on with "right" people or go on target places, and become a part of a subculture. In windsurfing, it's nothing like that. You can't pretend to be "one of the guys". There is actually nothing to commercialize on it. You have to go out there on the water, and doing it, and display a physical prowess that can only be gained through countless hours of practice. Only than, you are a windsurfer!

That's the reason why not so many people take windsurfing for their lifestyle sport. It's too demanding. Windsurfing ask from you a great deal of surrender and even sacrifices. It may look like an obstacle, but this is the very reason why it's so great and why those people who do it are really special! They are showing persistence, authenticity, will and power, contrary to mass marketing and consumerism. They are doing it on their own way!

Ok, that's settled. But, why so "heavy" words like "resistance to consumerism" or "resistance to cultural expectations"? Well, here it is, according to Wilkinson: the commitment to put windsurfing ahead of usual priorities amounts to resistance! Windsurfing often requires people to compromise their economic potential (downshifts their income in order to be able to chase the wind), and thus clearly expressing the resistance to dominant cultural values of consumerism, which prizes economic success above anything else.

And windsurfers are preferring - what? They are preferring fun, not the competition; freedom, instead of the rules. They are real rebels, this windsurfers! They don't care about how rich they are, as long as they get their time on the water. They are individuals, hedonists (not sloppy, mind you, but very disciplined) and with some strange out-of-this-world anti-competition ethos...

The Motivation

Wilkinson ask one very important question - whether this lifestyle actually exists, or it is created by manufacturers of windsurfing equipment in some kind of "dream world of escape"?  Maybe windsurfers are just one kind of consumerists, a special kind, but nevertheless, they are slaves of dream world of false freedom? It is a tough question, and probably one able to provoke much discussion. But, Wilkinsons answer – is it really necessary to say that I agree with him? – is positive: yes, it exists, and it is real!

The secret lies in the motivation. Windsurfers are consumers of windsurfing equipment, and some of them may fall pray of advertising and buying something the don't really need. But, mostly, they are not consuming the goods – they are consuming the experience! Windsurfers use their equipment for its real value (experience on the water), not for its sign or presentation value. And here is again the resistance part – going against most of the "consumerism mainstream".

Quote Wilkinson: "Windsurfers above all seek the internal pleasures of immediate experience, variously described as "the stoke", the buzz", "the flow" and do not care for the shallow image-based identity..."

According to interviews with New Zealand windsurfers, top motivators are (at least I understand them to be the top three):

1. getting high and the experience of self-transcendence
2. catharsis or release from tension
3. (surprise) aesthetic - it is simply beautiful!

Fitness and health are low ranking motivators. So, we are not windsurfing because of some ideal of being healthy, strong, attractive or some such silly thing. The same is with experience of "communitas" – communal shared experience. It is present in a form of bonding with your windsurfing mates, but it's not highly ranked among windsurfers. So, you will probably not become a windsurfer just to join the gang.

Again, you can sense the difference between usual motivators and this ones. Average person, and average recreational sportsman or sportswoman, would do a lot just to be healthy and fit and attractive. But, this shallow things are not driving the windsurfers! They are ready to sacrifice their own economic status, change the job, move to some obscure place to live, give hundreds of hours to wind, but not for something stale and trite. They (we) are obviously doing it for a special, although somewhat elusive reason of "being in a flow"!

The Spirit

And now, here comes the stuff I really like! It is what I call "soul" part of the windsurfing. And fro this paper I have learned that some scientists did already called that with the same name (Duncan Humphries "soul-boarders")! Great!

What is "the flow"? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the flow as: "concentration so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant or to worry about problems. Self-consciousness disappear and sense of time becomes distorted."

Well, this description is like some ancient yogic sutra! Actually, since I know Patanjali (writer of Yoga sutra text), and I know windsurfing, I could say that Csikszentmihalyi actually describes one of the stage in development of consciousness, or one kind of "samadhi". But, all this connected with windsurfing? Amazing!

And it goes further: Csikszentmihalyi says that from the flow – the pleasure comes. This is, of course, yogic bliss-consciousness!

I will not continue in that direction at this point. This very site is dedicated to such experiences. We may call them "the zone", or "the flow" or "samadhi", who cares. It is important that this experiences are here and, maybe, if we understand them, we can enhance them and make them even more present. All in all, I really have to express my admiration for modern thinkers: they are finally nailing down that spirit secrets of windsurfing!

Bear in mind that we are talking about PRIME motivator for windsurfers! It is maybe hard to put in words (Wilkinson says that people he interview did have difficulty in putting into words what happened to them during windsurfing), but it's nevertheless, very real. And that's the main answer why windsurfers are doing it! Amazing!

Here is how Patrick Laviolette, another scientists, express it: "These activities distort conventional notion of time, spatial perception and motion. Events are rushed up, or slowed in a disproportional way so that sensation of time shift".

Well, you can think about it a little, but I doubt you will say it like that by yourself. My experiences with "common" windsurfer is that s/he knows that on non-verbal level, but the same cultural indoctrination and restriction often does not allow them to think about it. So, they just do it on the water, entering the flow, the zone, the nirvana of windsurfing, regardless of their ability to consciously express it.

Wilkinsons thesis contains many other interesting things, like preparation for windsurfing, which he identifies with some kind of ritual performance of assessment of the conditions and rigging the equipment. Also, he talks about element of chance in windsurfing – the feeling that there is a greater force in play than just an individual. Actually, all of soulwindsurf points which I mentioned in my already classic first article about soulwindsurf, are somehow covered in this paper.

I will finish this article with one quoted sentence from an interview with one of the (soul)windsurfers from New Zealand.

"I asked him if he wanted to be successful in the eyes of the wider society. He said: 'Nah, I just wanna go windsurfing.'"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Catch the Wind by Donovan

In the chilly hours and minutes,
Of uncertainty, I want to be,
In the warm hold of your loving mind.
To feel you all around me,
And to take your hand, along the sand,
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.

When sundown pales the sky,
I wanna hide a while, behind your smile,
And everywhere I'd look, your eyes I'd find.
For me to love you now,
Would be the sweetest thing, 'twould make me sing,
Ah, but I may as well, try and catch the wind.

When rain has hung the leaves with tears,
I want you near, to kill my fears
To help me to leave all my blues behind.
For standin' in your heart,
Is where I want to be, and I long to be,
Ah, but I may as well, try and catch the wind

Catch the Wind by Donovan

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's not about winning

Talking about competition. Is it about winning? Or, is it about giving the best of you? Or, maybe, about something completly different? My early days in sports were full of competitions. I was on the edge, always on the adrenalin of winning the game. It did not made me happy. I enjoyed more in the beauty of some actions with my team mates, than in pure winning at any cost.

Than I get hooked in windsurfing. And I understood: what I am, and how I am doing, does not have any connections with anybody else, except myself! Wind and the water – that's my team mates. And others with the windsurfing boards and sails – they are my friends. Here is one story from John Douillard's book "Body, Mind and Sport". Makes you think twice next time when you will think about competing. It can be certainly different than it is in todays sport.


I once heard a beutiful story about the spirit of competition. An Eglish naval officer was morooned on a remote island in the South Pacific. He had befriended a native man to whom he was constantly trying to prove his superiority and the superiority of his culture. For the Englishman, everything was a contest – from who can build a better fire to who could design a more functional hut. This puzzled the native, for whom life was fun, like a game. He simply could not fathom the Englishman's intensity.

One day the Englishmen, in tipical fashion, threw a challenge to the native. Pointing out a spot abut half a mile down the beautiful sandy beach, he anounced, "We will have a competition from here to that distant point." The native agreed. The Englishman always taking charge of things, set up the conditions: "We will train in our own style, privately, for two weeks. On the fourteenth day, we will compete."

When the day arrived, they took their places on the starting line, and the Englishman fired his pistol in the air to set them off. With his usual intensity, pushing himself to the limit of his physical ability and grimacing with the strain, he drove himself through the sand until, gasping for breath, he lunged for the finish line. Exhausted and soaked in sweat, he turned to see how his opponent was doing.

To his joy and amazement, the native was only about halfway to the finish line. The Englishman watched him float gracefully along the shoreline with long, comfortable strides, a smile on his handsome face. When he finally pranced across the finish line he found the Englishman jumping up and down and shouting, "I won! I won!"

The native looked at the Englishman in disbeleif. "What? YOU won? No, I won. I was the most beautiful!"

The story makes you wonder: Who had the better idea? Is it better to win at any cost or simply to enjoy the game? Taking first place is only one perspective on what it means to be a winner. For the native, beaing beautiful was the real competition. Maybe the ancient Greeks were right to emphasize physical exercise for the cultivation of the self, rather than the conquest of an opponent. The modern-day cred of "No pain, no gain" and Vince Lombardi's "Winning is everything; it's the only thing" just may be due for revision.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Windsurfer by Roy Orbison

Windsurfer... Windsurfer...
All he wanted was to ride out on the wind

To be one of the guys and to look good in her eyes
He practiced in his dreams
Trying to coast the waves
Most of the time he sailed alone
Endless summer days
Flying in the sun
He'd ride and wait for the wind
To take him home

Windsurfer... Windsurfer... Windsurfer...

He said let's sail away together
She told him no no never no
Wind Windsurfer

It was early one morning
On a lovely beach
He left a message and
He wrote it in the sand
Why do we always go for
Something out of reach?
Nobody ever really understands

All he wanted to do
Was outrun the sun
To take her in his arms
When the lonely days was done

Roy Orbison/Bob Dees

Monday, March 11, 2013

Body, Mind and Soul

Many sport proffesionals and lately, more and more amateurs, explore the wonderful world of "the Zone". It is an experience which at first seemed strange and rare, but as times goes by, it is more and more common. Personaly, I did experience the Zone many times, even before i knew how it is called. But, strangly enough, the name and the description are somewhat elusive. It is hard to describe what is actualy happening when you are in the Zone. Initialy, when I started to windsurf, I noticed that this expirience comes more offten during this sport, in comparison with other sports I have been engaged in the past. Hence, soulwindsurf was born!

But, there is a lot to be said about the Zone. One of the best books I encounterd (and even published in Croatia via Double Rainbow publishing house) was John Douillard's book "Body, Mind and Sport". Here is a short part from the introduction of the book - a nice explanation of "the eye of the storm"...

From John Douillard's "Body, Mind and Sport"

According to legend, Bodhidharma – who latter became known in Japan as Daruma – thought a form of Budhism for developing mind and body that is known as Zen. He told the monks of Shaolin that he would teach them techniques to develop the neccesery physical and spiritual strenght to master the Way of Budha, but soon he found that they were physically weak and unable to keep with his training.

The focus of their life in the monastery had been on the inner aspects of life – the mind, or soul – with litlle attention to the health and strenght of the body. Bodhidharma taught them although Buddha's message was about the soul, body and soul are really inseparable. You cannot train one without the other.

The physical techniques that Bodhidharma taught were not for the purpose of overcoming opponents but for the integrated development of body, mind and spirit. Using these methods, which are recorded in the ancient Ekkin Sutra, the Shaolin monks became renowned for their physical and spiritual strenght, courage, and fortitude.

The message of Zen Buddhism, brought first to China and than to Japan from Vedic civilization of India, was that enlightenment was not meant to be enjoyed only in silent, disembodied contemplation. It was the way of life, to be lived at all times, or, as the famous Zen sayin goes, "while carrying water and chopping wood."

Bodhidharma's work at the Shaolin temple led to the development of Kung Fu and Tai Chi. Kung Fu is more aggressive form, which displays the dinamic "yang" aspect of nature, and Tai Chi reflects the more peaceful and silent "yin" component. Both of thise qualities may be developed expressed during exercise in oredr to cultivate regular experience of the Zone.

In martial arts, or in any other sport, the only way man can harness the power and the strenght of nature and the universe is to mimic nature's way. Wherever nature exist, this formula also exist: dynamic action along with perfect silence. The dead of winter is balanced by the activity of summer. The more dynamic the activity, the more dramatic the contrast of opposites. The bigger the hurricane, the bigger its eye.

Exercise is a proven approach to life's ultimate goal, which modern Zen master D.T.Suzuki called "motionless realization". Tennis great Billie Jean King describes it in hers autobiography: "I transport myself to a place beyond the turmoil of the court, to a place of total peace and calm." She was on the court but beyond the turmoil of the court. She was in the Zone, where the most dynamic physical activity coexist with mental composure, peace and calm.

The legendary Ted Williams, who coined the phrase "the Zone", said he couild see the seams of the baseball as it came whirling up to the place at 100 miles per hour!

Williams had no doubt that he had seen a 100-mph fastball with the close-up clarity of a slow-motion instant reply, yet "experts" claim that it is opticaly imposible. The 4-minute mile was once considered impossible, as were 500-pound lift and other feats that today are accomplished by many. I read recently that experts now predict a 3:30 mile by the year 2054, one hunderd years after Roger bannister's boundary-breaking achievement. Records fall every day. So, what is "imposible"?

New records generaly do not leap far above previouse ones, yet no one can predict final limits. As soon as a record is called "un beatable," someone inevitably comes along who is capable of going faster, higher, farther. It is said that fish are 80 to 90 percent efficient in the water, while a world-class swimmer is only 8 to 9 percent efficient. Does that mean that we will never be truly efficient in the water, or that our potential gains are unlimited?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Everybody's Talkin' by Harry Nilsson

Everybody's talking at me

I don't hear a word they're saying
Only the echoes of my mind

People stopping staring
I can't see their faces
Only the shadows of their eyes

I'm going where the sun keeps shining
Thru' the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Banking off of the North East wind
Sailing on a summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone

Everybody's talking at me
Can't don't hear a word they're saying
Only the echoes of my mind
I won't let you leave my Love behind
I won't let you leaeve...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Soulwindsurf? What is this?

Although athletes may achieve
more due to the zone feeling,
it may come without any special efforts
and top results!
Is it a new technique of sailing? Or, is it about surfing on something different, not on water? Those are the most frequent questions asked by windsurfers when I mention soulwindsurf to them. However, after a few sentences almost everyone can intuitively grasp the idea. Namely, the term might be new, but everyone who has ever felt that irresistible urge for wind or exhilaration when the board planes and the water foam sprays around it, unmistakably knows their own experience.

A couple of year ago I wrote one longish essay about “inner experiences” during windsurfing (it was re-published on the Croatin extreme sports web portal Adventure sport and it was very well received among windsurfers).

How to explain what soul-windsurf is? I will try to do it with the help of the modern concept of the zone – a special psychological state in which athletes, men and women, accomplish the best results.

The zone is a state of perfect mind/body coordination. The mind is calm, and the body does exactly what is needed to efficiently fulfil the taks. All body and psychological resources are focusedon on only one thing: to maintain complete balance and maximum efficiency.

Under a different name, ancient people talked about the zone, as for example some North American natives who could run hundreds of miles without a breake. Modern marathon runners tell us about the same magical state in which they do not feel effort any more. Michael Jordan in basketball, Pele in football, Martina Navratilova in tennis – these are just a few names of top athletes who own their success to frequent and continuous experience of the zone. For those of you who wish to know more about it, I strongly recommend an excellent book by John Douillard: Mind, Body and Spirit.

Most windsurfer are recreationists. Top results are not that important to them. The fact that the experience of the zone is connected to an unbelievable pleasant feeling inside – that is what is important! On the subjective level, when you enter the zone, you feel some kind of ecstasy – a great pleasure not known from ordinary experiences. Of course, when you step out of it, you long for it. If you do not experience it for some time, than you feel an even greater urge to feel it again; you want it back and you will do anything to experience it again…

When you enter the zone, you feel some kind of ecstasy –
a great pleasure not known from ordinary experiences.
Well, if this reminds you about the need for drugs… hm, it is almost like that, but, of course, in a positive way. Some scientists think that the state of zone is caused, or at least accompanied by a strong current of endorphins – neurotransmitters that are known for inducing a great sense of bliss.

You have certainly noticed that, among windsurfers, there is a large number of those positive fanatics, and that their urge is a lot stronger than among practitioners of other sports. Why is this so?

Adrenalin is one possible explanation. However, it cannot explain everything, because there are much more extreme physical activities out there, and they do not cause such strong “addiction”. The real explanation is that windsurfing creates a zone much more directly than any other physical activity! In that sense, windsurfing is the most beautiful sport ever invented!

It is about the combination of many factors like balance, surrenedering, effortlessness, cooperation with natural elements and so on. If they are combined in the right way, they very quickly produce that magical state recognized by every windsurfer.

However, soul-windsurf is not just a description of an already present situation. Recognizing and awakening the experiences might help a faster and more frequent entrance into the zone. That is the very purpose of Soulwindsurf site: put the attention to those experiences with the purpose of making it happened more offten and faster.

However, there is something more. Inner experiences of the zone do not depend so much on the results, but results are dependent upon the experinece of the zone! That means that although athletes may achieve more due to the zone feeling, it may come without any special efforts and top results!

In different words, if you do the right things, the zone will come at the very beginning of windsurfing; it will be yours independently of your ability to do front-loops; it does not matter if you are a speed champion, race winner or you are just windsurfing for your own pleasure.

When you smile, the whole world is smiling with you!
That is the real meaning and purpose of the soul-windsurf idea. It was very well expressed in the letter of Matt Jennkins (Boards 07/2007) when he writes about Hawaiian mana – natural element of excellence – comparing experiences of windsurfing giants like Josh Stone and windsurfing beginners.

This year I tried to teach some of these principles to beginners. So I held a test course in windsurfing, with the idea to create the zone from the very first moment of windsurfing. I think I succeeded, and I also learned a lot in the process – next time it will be even better!

I believe that windsurfers and other windlovers will recognize their own experiences. It is great to see that this can belong to an ordinary person who is just trying to learn how to windsurf!

However, what you evidently recognize is the similarity with our common need for wind and windsurfing. If we are not on the water for a long time… ah, it itches very badly, something missing, as if we are separated from something very important…We have to go on the water, again and again and again…

Friday, March 8, 2013

Windsurfing the Soul

This is the original article I wrote in the summer of 2002. That moment was when I came up with term "soulwindsurfing". In this longish essay I tried to express my feelings and experiences during windsurfing. I also described how I came to learn it and why I think it is almost perfect  as an analogy of spiritual growth.

The article was published like a self-standing website, and was linked by most of the windsurfing portals in Croatia. Later, it was re-published it on a web portal for alternative sports (Adventure sport) under the title "Why is windsurfing the most beautiful sport ever invented..."

A lot of people read that article, including windsurfers and those who later wanted to become windsurfers. And now, it is a part of a history - the beginning of a beautiful new adventure...

- the art of connecting the impossible

Summer 1997

I spent the summer of 1997 trying to learn how to surf. In a little shady bay Crvena Luka (Red Port) near Biograd, for the first time in my life, I rented very old equipment, but it was more than satisfying for a beginner.

That summer I entertained the bystanders with my spectacular falls. Since I stubbornly decided to learn this skill by myself, without the help of an instructor, I climbed the board a million times, remained there for long few seconds, and then fell a million times. It is only natural that such an activity attracted many looks. People came to sit on that part of the shore only to watch me. Some of them tried to shout well-meant advice to me, but the shouting only distracted me, because I didn’t hear what they were saying anyway (my ears were filled with water).

I entertained the bystanders, and it wasn’t that bad for me either, because I finally managed to fight the summer boredom of the beach. But, every night when I tried to heal the bloody shin (from climbing the board) and torn skin on my palms (from over squeezing the boom), the fun was not that important. Nevertheless, on the following day I went on. And on and on. Actually, I spent a few hours of every day of that unusual summer vacation trying to surf. On the last day, I even managed to get from one side of the bay to another. Those 100 m made me a happy man! Of course, now I know I chose to learn the hard way. In any decent surfing school, I would have mastered this skill in two hours. No bloody arms and legs.

Why was I so stubborn? The simple answer would be that I’m like that, persistent in my stubbornness. But, still, never mind the way, why did I want this so much?
Because I had, somewhat intuitively, recognized one of the most beautiful sports ever invented. Besides, I recognized something more than a sport in it (which is the reason for this text). To explain this, I’ll skip a few years first.

Summer 2002

Karin, mid July. After a few days of tropical heat, a colder North-western front is approaching. It means a cold spell, but also bura in the Adriatic (Bura is a cold northern offshore wind on the Adriatc sea.) I’m on my way to Šibenik. After driving down the hairpin bends above Obrovac, the view is on the Sea of Novigrad, and after that the road goes past Karin and its beautiful bay.

One look at the sea surface and I know I’m going to be late for where I was heading. No chance am I going to miss this! Wind-blows on the surface, and in places you can see whitecaps; we call them “lambs”- white wave crowns. The Bura is not as strong here as it is under Velebit, but when it rushes down the hill on the north-eastern end of Karin, the bay has ideal conditions for safe surfing.

Between water and light.
Bliss in the movement; in a straight line…
However, not many surfers know about this, and not many of them come. During my voyages to the southern parts of the coast, I often stopped at this spot and spend heavenly moments: my surfboard and my sail; the sea and the Bura, and with these, I danced the most beautiful dance in the world. A lonely dance it was, since there is no one around me. Surprisingly, it is so even now, and it is mid summer. I’m going down the gravel path barely wide enough for my van, filled with sailing equipment. The path goes across a grassy valley, and down to the sea.

I step out the van only to contentedly look at the wind meters showing a good 20 knots. While I’m putting my equipment together, I notice I’m not alone after all. About 200 meters away, in a scattered shade of bush like trees a group of about 20 people is resting. I pay no attention to them. Busily, but calmly, I put my equipment together, and in 15 minutes time, I’m on the water.

What pleasure! I step on the board, hold my sail in front of me in a perfect “beach start”, while the board starts planning without hesitation. Foam is sputtering in the straps around my legs (so called “fuses”), and the trail of the speeding board is visible hundreds of meters behind me. Two, three minutes later, and I’m already on the other side of the bay. The turn down the wind (the so-called “jibe”) is almost perfect. Only at the end a little outside the skim, but then again a rush of wind and already I’m flying towards the shore I came from.

I lean hanging by the harness, my front leg is completely stretched out, and with my back leg I barely manage to keep the board under control. At such speed, the strain on the legs is considerable. However, the conditions are ideal for speed sailing. The Bura doesn't raise big waves in Karin. It rushes above the water disturbing it only so to make «lambs». The board slides over it as if it were an arrow discharged from a gigantic cannon.

Seen from the side, the board touches the water with only a small part of its surface, right above the fin. The rest is in the air. The sail is dropped down, so there is no crack between it and the board. The wind force is harnessed to the maximum. I lean backwards as much as I can. I have to: otherwise the wind would catapult me all the way to the other side. I feel comfortable. There is no strain. I keep maximum speed hanging by the sail. I loosen the front arm to prove to myself that I am not even holding the sail. Just out of playfulness, I lower it beside me and touch the speeding sea surface with my fingers.

Oh, what a feeling! My hand sways backwards. Next to the white board trail, there is the trail made by my fingers. Ease, calmness, effortlessness, playfulness, frightening speed and force at the same time! It sends shivers down my spine. I smile, lean my head backwards, almost touching the sea surface with it, and I can't hold it anymore: I scream with pure pleasure and happiness!

Sometimes I think that two hours of such windsurfing can change a man’s life forever. In fact, I often think that! That’s what I’m thinking now, contentedly getting out of the water, with a mysterious smile worthy of a Himalayan wise man. I don’t even reach my van, as 5-6 people catch up with me. Observers from the shade of that tree, I see immediately. They’re thrilled. Few of them have seen a real windsurfer. What people usually get to see is slow beginners windsurfing, not very attractive, except from the fact that someone is moving on the water surface; and very rarely they get to see some hard-core surfing on the TV. Therefore, it is not unusual that people are sometimes amazed to see what a surfboard can do.

“It’s like a speedboat!” they say in wonder.
“How fast can you go?” they ask.
“You look beautiful on the water!” they praise.
“We cheered that you don’t fall during the turns! You entertained us for two hours!” they say with obvious satisfaction.

Naturally, I am satisfied too. I answer the questions, happy because of successful sailing, and slightly on an ego trip because of unexpected fans. And then, in the midst of everything, I remember the summer five years ago when I had also entertained bystanderds on the coast, but in a completely different way! There has been a lot of wind in my sails since then and windsurfing has proved worthwhile. Although now I know that you can learn this skill much more easily, even if it couldn’t and I would need to go through this all over, I would still do it, without hesitation. For such moments, I would do anything.

Connecting the impossible

Now it’s time to get to the point. It is not my intention merely to write a hymn to windsurfing. In fact, I want to compare it to something completely different, with an area of life that is not at all external, but internal. I want to compare windsurfing to the spiritual work. This attempt will surprise many people. However, I know that this is not impossible. I know this not only from my own experience, but also from the experience of many others. I have recently read an excellent book by Laurie Nadel, Dancing with the Wind – Zen and the Art of Windsurfing.

Although I have already written about the connection of spiritual and personal development with windsurfing (in the book The Dream of a Dolphin the main character is a windsurfer and this skill helps him to transcend from the level of reality to an entirely different reality, the so-called Dreamtime; and in the book My Way to Magic I have dedicated a whole chapter to the relationship between activity and silence, and used windsurfing as an example of their perfect harmony). Dancing with the Wind surprised me with its profundity and liveliness. The author is going through a series of personal crises, including a potentially fatal illness. In confrontation with the difficulties she is using techniques of spiritual growth, but she is very much assisted by her love for windsurfing and application of windsurfing principles in the methods of working on herself. The book delighted me and it inspired me to present my own view of this extraordinary and, for many, completely unexpected connection.

As I have already mentioned, many of you will find these comparisons completely surprising. However, I personally believe that the same natural laws control the entire universe and that, if they are truly correct, can be applied in any situation. You only have to properly understand these natural laws and know how to use them.

I took on writing this text out of the need to express this connection. I don’t expect many people to understand the essence of it right away. In order to fully understand this connection, you would need to be a windsurfer and a spiritual person at the same time. In case you are only one of these, I suppose you will have, at least, some difficulties.

Windsurfers will perhaps be shocked – why would I want to connect their simple, exciting life passion with something like meditation or Zen? The spiritual persons, on the other hand, will shrink from a strong materiality of an adrenaline sport like windsurfing. However, I still hope that among those who read this text, there will be some from both of these groups open to new ideas. Who knows, maybe after this, more spiritual persons will begin windsurfing and more windsurfers will begin meditating!

However, even if this wouldn’t be the case, it is an exceptional satisfaction to write about the two loves and passions of mine, even if it’s a purpose in itself. However it turns out, I hope that anyone who takes a look at these lines will be enriched with a few life ideas.


I will start with something that is not so obvious – guidance and preparation. For both the spiritual work on yourself and windsurfing, you need guidance and good preparation.

If you want to start properly, you can’t do that on your own. My beginner’s attempts at windsurfing are an example of the wrong approach.

You simply need an instructor, someone who will show you how things are done and in that way save you months of useless effort. Even today, when I encounter a move that I have difficulties with, I crave for someone more experienced, someone who would tell me what I’m doing wrong and how things should look.

It’s the same with spirituality. No matter how simple it appears, true guidance is necessary, especially in the beginning. You can’t just sit down and meditate. The chance that you’ll go wrong is so great that it’s not worth it to waste time on attempts. You could be saying – What’s so complicated about that? You read some instructions in one of many books, sit down and try it out. However, it’s not like that. Just as reading instructions on windsurfing doesn’t make a windsurfer, reading instructions on meditation doesn’t make a spiritual seeker. Theory is one thing, practice another. Therefore, it is best to begin with an instructor.

One more thing, no matter how ridiculous it might seem, if someone teaches you well how to windsurf, feel free to call him your windsurfing guru!

Preparing the equipment – living in the presence

But, let’s leave the question of learning for a moment and concentrate on real comparisons between the two, at first sight, so different areas of life.

Life in the present! The expression that every spiritual seeker encounters in the first days of learning. What does that have to do with windsurfing? A lot.

Perhaps you have noticed that Laurie Nadel in Dancing with the Wind has used as a subtitle a paraphrased title of a classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Not quite original, but surely a correct solution. Zen is impossible to define (in fact, the definition itself is a subject of hundreds of years of quest of Zen-Buddhists), but we can’t go wrong if we say that Zen has something to do with being here and now. The present moment is the time in which we have to live. However, our thoughts are mostly in the past or the future. One of the first lessons that a spiritual seeker has to learn is to be here and now, and not to be thinking about what had happened or what would happen. Worry, expectation, judgment, guilt, and escape – these are all opposite to Zen, which is right here and right now.

Now, what does all this philosophy have to do with windsurfing? Well, let us start with what comes before the actual windsurfing – preparing the equipment!

To windsurf, you need of course, a board and a sail. But a lot other equipment goes along with it. For example, a fin that you attach to a certain place on the board, and a base that holds the upper part of the equipment, the so-called rig. The rig is composed of a sail, boom, mast, mast extension and two firm ropes to attach the sail at the mast extension and at the beginning of the boom.  To put all this together into a meaningful and effective whole, you have to know what you are doing. It takes about ten minutes for an average surfer to put his equipment together. Equipment manufacturers have their experts who, by quickly setting up the equipment, show how easy it is to use. At such demonstrations, the rig is sometimes put together in a minute or two.  An average windsurfer doesn’t disregard these facts, because he knows how tiring it is to assemble the equipment on the shore, with the wind raging upon the water! Every windsurfer’s dream is to have the sail and board put together, to be able to take them any time they want and be on the water in ten minutes.

I have to admit that I too am sometimes the victim of such illusions. Especially when the wind force changes up to 10 knots ten minutes after I’ve put up an 8, 5-square-meter sail, forcing me to go back to the shore and put up a 7-meter sail. The whole process (going back, pulling out the equipment, and putting together a new rig) takes about half an hour, during which time wind goes stronger again, so I need a yet smaller sail! It is a nightmare! I could use someone on the shore to put the equipment together as I surf, and surf, and surf…

But then again, it wouldn’t be Zen, would it? Accepting the situation as it is, is a part of Zen. I will discuss this aspect of Zen later. Let’s focus on assembling the equipment for now. So, to do this, the most people boring, but actually very demanding and precise work of putting up the rig, you have to live in the present moment! You can’t think about anything else. You’re here and now! Putting up the sail. If you do it well, you’re not only a master of windsurfing, but also a master of Zen. Here and now. You had a choice: is it going to be boring and hard, while your thoughts are already on the water, and the body still on the shore, or are you going to turn a potentially boring work into a real ceremony. Believe me; it is worthwhile to use Zen when assembling the rig. Not only for the sake of windsurfing, but also for the sake of spiritual training.

By the way, a well-assembled sail makes half of the success on the water. Not only that your life sometimes depends on it (most windsurfers do not even think about that), but it is also a question of whether your hours spent on the water will be exciting and fulfilling, or straining and frustrating. Bjorn Dunckeberg, one of the best windsurfers ever, was famous for dedicating twice as much time to well-assembled equipment. While the others were already on the water, he would still be tightening, shifting, adjusting… But, when he finally got on the water, no one could beat him!

If you’re wondering what there is to prepare and adjust in assembling the rig, you’ll get the answer when you first try it on your own. Here is an example: a good windsurfer will get out of the water to tighten the sail on the mast by 5 millimeters (!!!), to adjust the shape of the sale to the conditions on the water. Five little millimetres make a difference between poor and excellent! I will not talk anymore (for example, about boom height, position of the board base, position of the harness lines. etc.) Windsurfers know what I’m talking about; the others have to try it out.

And while the others have to work on the “here and now” meditation, windsurfers have a chance for it every time they put together their equipment. Happy people, aren’t they?

Dancing with the wind – acceptance and cooperation

However, practicing Zen doesn’t end with putting together the equipment. Moreover, it extends to all aspects of windsurfing. Believe it or not, it can be seen in things as trivial as carrying the equipment from the place where you put it together to the water. But, these are details I would be glad to explain on an “advanced” seminar on the relationship between Zen and windsurfing!

We had better continue with the windsurfing itself. One of the first questions that a layman asks when watching a windsurfer is – How is it possible to sail towards a place that is in the direction of the wind? Interestingly enough, they never asked that watching sailing ships. It seems that this question is directed at windsurfing because the equipment looks fragile and sporting, as opposed to massive ships moved by the wind. So, how is it possible to sail upwind?

In fact it isn’t. You sail through the wind. What is only possible is to sail through the wind, but just slightly in it. Then, it is possible to turn around and in the same way sail again, then turn again and little by little, in a zigzag, cover the space and come to the point that is far upwind. By the way, you come to the point downwind direction in the same way – you sail through it, just a little downwind, then turn and the same again, until you reach the aimed position. In this way, our ancestors conquered the world seas, regardless of the wind direction. Therefore, it doesn’t matter from which direction the wind blows, as long as it blows!

Spiritual lesson? You can go anywhere, as long as you are moving! You mustn’t stop. The moment you feel that your life has stopped in a (un)familiar position, when it turns into something that doesn’t inspire you, doesn’t take you further; then you know that it is time to seek a new wind. Or, as I have written in one of 27 golden keys for creating happiness (the book Creating Happiness) – the change is always possible. And a change for the better.

Still, there’s something more in it. A windsurfer knows that he cannot go directly against the wind. He can only indicate his ‘intention’ to go there. It is the same in life. We cannot go against the circumstances or, if you prefer, against karma, but if we are determined to do what we want, we will achieve that, regardless of the circumstances.

The fact that, in order to achieve our goals, we have to learn to accept the will stronger than our own is a paradox. We have to subject to it in order to be able to live with it. In a spiritual sense, it is a rule to get the best out of the given circumstances. Whatever happens to us, it is happening for our own benefit. That is, we can use each event for our own evolution, for progress.

The wind is a higher force. We can’t and mustn’t play with it. The same goes for water. These are natural elements much more powerful than we are. If you have ever felt wind of plus-40 knots, then you know what I’m talking about. (Just for the record, knots are units for wind speed. In order to get the speed in km/h, you multiply 40 by 2.) Meteorologists would call this a gale-force wind. But, you can experience what this really means only when you try to keep the sail in your hands in such wind! Or, better to say, you try to hold onto it, pressing it closer to the water surface so that the wind wouldn’t lift you and the board and take you twenty meters away, throwing you around.

To think that you can tame such a force is an illusion. Even when the wind is not that strong I can recognize in it the wildness that makes it dangerous. The wind can become a beast. The wind is like an old, incomprehensible deity, whose motifs are not known to men. Only if you “dance the way it plays”, you can hope for its mercy. To cooperate, not to control. It is only in letting go that you can accomplish your goals.

This is what makes windsurfing a non-competitive sport. Of course, there are some very interesting competitions held. Apart from regattas, there are wave competitions, and lately very popular freestyle competitions, with judges, points and everything else that follows big shows. Windsurfing is also attractive to audiences, and there are sponsors who know how to make the best of it.

However, when you sail only because you want to sail, you don’t compete against anyone. You learn how to cooperate with the wind, water and yourself. This is the difference between windsurfing and any other sport. For example, when you play tennis, even if you do it rarely for a recreation, you always compete with your opponent. There are no opponents here. Only you and the wind. If you fall, you don’t fall because of the wind: the wind blows the same and takes no notice of you. You fell because of you, and because you didn’t cooperate well with the wind.

Someone could mention that life is a competition and that windsurfing is of no use. Hm, which life is a competition? The one we learned to live. But, this doesn’t mean that this is the way it has to be. Spiritual and personal growth isn’t a successful competition (although it means accomplishment of one’s goals). Everyone who is taking the spiritual path should learn how NOT to fight against life and circumstances. Cooperation with life and people is a much better approach. This is what a windsurfer practices every day: cooperation with life.

I’m aware that most windsurfers doesn’t think this way, but still, they apply these principles every day they’re on the water. Spontaneously, they apply profound life wisdom when windsurfing. Sometimes I get carried away in thoughts of what could happen to these people if they only became aware of what they’re doing, and start applying this skill in every aspect of their lives. The world would be richer for a lot of wiser and happier people…


Keeping balance is maybe the most obvious parallel between windsurfing and spiritual practice. Without balance there is no sailing. Similarly, without balance, there is no fulfilled life.

I remember, in the beginning, I had many problems with balance on the board, compared to the balance on the land. Trying to stand up on a swinging board, I spread my legs and bent my knees. It was an automatic process remaind from playing basketball. In other words, when someone tries to push you, a wide, low stand means lowering your center of gravity and more stability. However, this didn’t work on the surfboard. Only after some time did I realize that what you need to do is to pull your legs together and stretch backwards to keep balance, using the sail as counter-balance. Actually, I had to realize that this is not only me now, but also my equipment! In windsurfing, balance is a notion that encompasses not only your body but also something outside you, and finally the natural elements: of course, the wind, but also sea conditions, waves and currents.

As the speed grows and skill improves, balance gets more dynamic. But, you always have to keep it. Every move has to be in harmony with it, otherwise you fall. At the beginning the falls are rather harmless, but if you lose balance at a speed of 50 km/h, not even the suit or the rescue vest can save you: hitting the sea surface is going to hurt! If you consider losing control of the board and the sail, you better wear a helmet as well!

But, if you keep your balance…there are no limits to what you can do! Speeding without any effort, turn at a sharp angle without slowing down, but accelerating; jumping two, three, or more meters up and away; do unusual tricks while turning the sail, board and yourself…and all that with ease with which you read this text! The secret, of course, is in the balance.

On the other hand, a spiritual quest is nothing other than a quest for balance. True spirituality is not an escape from pressure, but a creation of a dynamic system moving, not despite, but thanks to that very pressure! In our lifetimes we come across many problems. Stress is all around us. We can compare its activity with that of the wind. It is a force that is affecting us. It is our task to find a counter-balance, something to help us lean on stress and use its pressure to move forward.

Just as a windsurfer knows he mustn’t overload any of the windsurfing systems (too much pressure with the leg, leaning too far backwards, etc.), or allow the wind to overload it on its side, so a wise man knows that harmony of all parts of his life is a formula for success. Not too much of anything, and a constant focus on the goal. This is the formula for success.


There is something else connected to balance: when you reach it you feel immediate relief! Balance is the absence of strain. When you strain the sail so much that you level the thrust of the wind (in windsurfer jargon this point is called the “centre of effort”), all the forces affecting you and the board are suddenly being cancelled out; that is, they are being turned into moving on water. A windsurfer remains in a weightless position, he feels ease, and with it comes the impression by speed and all that force which he had somehow redirected in the desired direction. There is no strain, muscles are relaxed, you are floating in a point in which the force of wind is going through you, and you still feel nothing but ease. Wonderful, isn’t it?

The same thing happens with spirituality. Once we achieve equilibrium of inner and outer elements of our lives, the result is endless ease! We feel like there are no obstacles in front of us, or, if there are any, we overcome them without any trouble. The most spiritual authorities agree that the feeling of inner ease is one of the signals of a successful spiritual development. It is a direct consequence of achieving equilibrium.

When a windsurfer seeks the ‘centre of effort’, he in fact learns how to find a place of inner calm in the midst of the dynamic equilibrium of confronted elements. Everything he needs in order to step from this place into spirituality is the understanding of this process and a conscious application in everyday life.

Silence and activity

In fact, I have to correct myself – when a windsurfer finds this place (and he finds it each time he successfully plannes with his feet in the straps – that means often), he is already inside the area of life I consider to be spiritual!

At the beginning, speaking about the summer of 2002, and the experience in Karin, I had mentioned that scream of pure enjoyment during surfing. Screams and shouts are common among windsurfers in action. It’s because they feel a concentrated bliss and can no longer keep it inside! 

The reason for the ‘concentrated bliss’ is a simultaneously keeping stillness and movement, silence and activity. When a windsurfer achieves equilibrium with the feeling of ease, he suddenly finds himself in an area that some sport theorists will call ‘the eye of the storm’. You probably know that there’s a calm place in the eye of every storm, around which the storm spins. Activity on the outside, calm on the inside.

When you achieve this state on a subjective level, it seems that our capabilities are significantly increasing. Some top athletes call this experience ‘the zone’ (If you can, read an excellent book by John Douillard – Body, Spirit and Sport). They say that Michael Jordan spent the most of his career ‘in the zone’. Marathon runners often report similar experiences. I believe that windsurfers experience this almost every time when in water and that they enjoy the dynamic equilibrium of windsurfing!

Spiritual authorities tell us that the experience of simultaneously keeping calm and activity represents a higher state of consciousnesses’. In any case, this experience doesn’t differ from the normal state of consciousness, at least by the unusual feeling of joy running through your veins. The present world calls this adrenaline. Ancient wise men had their own name for the cause of thrill a man feels in the moments of integration of calm and activity. They said that in those moments, the body creates soma, drink of the gods. So, now you know, if you ever hear a windsurfer screaming with joy on his board, know that he drank some soma! He’s beyond salvation; he will be under the influence for as long as wind will blow into his sail.

Once again, most of windsurfers are not aware of this. They don’t even think about it. They simply enjoy in what they do. I think that the realization of this process would be useful for many. It would be nice if they would consciously transfer this sensation to everyday life. Of course, that can be done. Some even do it spontaneously. Because of that, at least I feel that way, on places where windsurfers gather there is at least a small trace of spirituality. Something, a trace, invisible and intangible, but if you’re open, then you recognize it. You know it’s there, although no one thinks about speaking about it.


So far I was writing about goals and achievement common to windsurfing and spiritual development. Now I would like to say something about the methods for achieving that. One of the most important and my favorite procedures is practicing surrender.

Do you know what means to surrender? It is a rare notion. Usually we use it in the context of religion or love, but today, we use it less and less. Who still surrenders to God nowadays? Or, who still surrenders to his partner?

Still, surrendering is an important practical skill that in fact calls for letting go of the control over something. Giving up control. During life, we’ve been taught exactly the opposite. They taught us how to keep control. But, as I have written, you can’t control a force more powerful than yourself. You can’t control either life nor wind. You can only work with it. When you ask yourself how to work with it, the answer is simple – let go! Quit the idea to control it and let it guide you.

In learning how to windsurf there are lot of moments when it’s necessary to surrender. I will describe one of the most important ones.

Mastering this skill has several levels. First you learn how to keep balance on the board that is slowly moving through the water. You learn to spin with and against the wind, and to go back to the point where you started. Then you sail with the wind more strongly, and you learn how to use the harness (with which you hang to the boom) instead of your hands. Somewhere soon comes your first plane, that is, the board coming out of the water, and the new, speed balance you have to learn to master. Modern boards have straps for legs, positioned at the back of the board. As a beginner I used to watch these straps and wonder how, in the name of God, would I ever put my feet in them! I tried to do it on shore, but the position I ended up in was so awkward I soon gave up. Then I tried to put my feet there while the board was moving through the water. But, since I had to stand at the end, the board started sinking and I ended up in the water. It was just not working. You can put your feet in the straps only when the board is planing. The resistance becomes strong enough so that you are moving backwards on the board doesn’t cause it to sink. Moreover, this position in planing, with the harness well set, speeds up the board's movement, increases the control, and is the only possibility to keep balance.

That’s all fine, but how do you put your feet into those fusses??? Believe me, I struggled with this for months, which again reminds me that I didn’t have a windsurfing guru by my side. If I had had him, everything would have been much easier.

I will describe the right procedure. First of all, you have to plane, of course. This means you’re in the harness, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to keep counterbalance against the wind with your hands. You move your feet very close to the straps. Than, you put the front leg into the front strap. And then… of course, the logical thing to do would be to put your back leg in the back strap, and there you are! But it isn’t as simple as it seems. It is true; you have to put the back leg in the back strap. But, to do this, you have to apply one of the most important procedures for keeping balance: you have to give up the control over your board!

That is, all the procedures applied until now have been designed for you to consciously maintain balance with the board and the sail. Even the above-described procedure of getting your feet into the straps is like that. You are planing, you’re hanging by the harness, moving your feet, putting one leg into the strap…everything is under control. You can feel the pressure, you pressure back, and everything is as usual. But now, if you move your back leg, you’ll disturb the balance and what happens to the board then?

And that’s it. You have to learn to put your destiny into the hands of the wind. This single moment, when you’re putting your back leg in the strap, means losing control over everything. You have to do it because otherwise you cannot stand where you want. As short as it may last, you have to give up the control over the board and the sail. It’s difficult, you can’t decide. You have fallen too many times not to know how bad it is. The board is planing, which means you’re moving very fast. What will happen?

If you get the nerve and let go, there is a moment of panic. You’re falling towards the water! The nose of the board turns against the wind. A little bit, but there’s no chance of holding it now that you have let it go. It’s over! But…no! What’s happening? You feel thrust in the harness! You didn’t fall down. The same wind you let go to, kept you standing. Finally! You’re hanging by the sail, and only pushing the board away from you. And the board, as if with its brakes off, lifts its nose even higher and flies unstoppably ahead, faster than ever! Both your legs are in the straps. You’re finally a real windsurfer! You have learned to surrender in practice.

Perpetual learning

There are many situations in windsurfing when you have to let the wind do what it does without you taking part in it. Other than tackling with the above-mentioned feet straps, there is also moving from the water, the so-called “water start”, during which you let the wind lift you onto the board. You use a similar procedure when turning downwind, in the so-called jibe.

As you see, there are many details to learn. It is significant that you have to learn each detail with time. Balance in windsurfing is dynamic. If you lift your leg, or loosen the sail, or lean back or forth too early (or too late), you won’t be able to do the manoeuvre you wanted. The order of the actions is very important. It is also a part of keeping balance.

The process of learning takes some time. In fact, the most beautiful thing about windsurfing may be the fact that the process never ends! There is always something new to learn.
The comparison with personal growth comes in mind again here. It never ends. You’re never at the end of your way, because getting there is what is important! As in windsurfing, you cannot act as if you’ve accomplished something in spirituality either.

A real windsurfer knows how many things there are that he doesn’t know! Every spiritual seeker is aware of this as well. The moment you think you’ve learned a lesson in life and your ego grows to the point where you start bragging about it, nature sends you a warning in the form of a new challenge. Another negative emotion, another inner turmoil, another situation that causes imbalance inside you… There is too much to do. If you’re eager to “finally” do it, to finish it, it is the best sign that you haven’t even started yet! As long as you are in the human form, you have some learning ahead.

You can try to make others believe you are a “spiritually developed” person. You can even persuade them. But in reality, doing this only makes things difficult for you. It is like doing something too early in windsurfing. You’ll probably fall, or your performance will be lame at best. Windsurfing teaches us the value of time and the value of modesty. A true spiritual seeker always nurtures modesty. Experience has taught him that. Just as it has taught the windsurfer. Oh, there are those on ego trips, of course! But deep down even they know that the next gust of wind can blow their egos away.

Windsurfing the Soul

I could write a lot about the comparisons between windsurfing and personal growth. But I’m afraid I would get too technical and detailed. The purpose is accomplished for the time being. Everything else, as I said before, on an “advanced” seminar!

The purpose of our life is creating and spreading of happiness. Our ability to do this is the condition for spiritual growth. But then again, happiness is not a state, but a process. It is in the moving towards the goal, and not in actually being there. Our life task is to discover life wisdom and principles that are successfully governing the lives of people and the universe, and then apply them in our own lives.

As a spiritual seeker, and a guide for those who choose this path, I never liked abstractions and philosophy. Life wisdom has to be simple, to the point and applicable. That’s why I’m so thrilled to have found the sport applies these principles to the maximum extent possible. If spirituality sometimes leaves you confused, windsurfing is definitely not like that. If you apply the principle of balance, you’ll keep on moving. If you’re wrong, you’ll be in the water in no time!

Of course, similar principles can be found in other sports and activities. But, somehow, I feel that windsurfing is closest to the ideal. It could be a matter of personal taste, but this is my opinion.

I think that keeping your body in shape is crucial for spiritual development. Too many times I have come across to so-called spiritual men who neglect their bodies or loathe sports. Maybe the competitive character of modern sports is to blame for this, but this has been dealt with in windsurfing. If we add this need to the exceptional obviousness of spiritual principles in mastering windsurfing, we get the ideal combination for anyone who cares about the development of the spirit, body and soul.  For a moment, let’s remember what a windsurfer does every day when he sails. 

· S/He’s practicing life in the present moment, from the moment s/he starts preparing hers/his equipment.
· S/He accepts circumstances as they are and works together  with the elements of nature.
· By constantly keeping balance between hers/his movements, the board, the sail, the wind and the sea, s/he’s keeping the dynamic movement of the entire system.
· During this entire process, s/he has to let go of the control many times and give in to a force more powerful and smarter than himself/herself.
· The overall result of hers/his activity is the state of integration of silence and activity, the silent eye of the storm, the experience of ‘the zone’, which is the basis for the development of higher states of consciousness.
· The total windsurfing activity is a process of a never-ending learning, perfect in every moment.

One cannot wish for anything better. Healthy, refreshing physical activity at the same time working very positively on our spiritual development! Because of that, it’s not surprising that anyone can practice windsurfing, from small child to old people. Yes, I have seen 65-year-old men sailing like young men. Unlike other sports, there are no obstacles. I was also present when a lady in her late 50s first tried it. She did very well and soon she was enjoying the water together with her 10 years older husband. Two more lessons from windsurfing: nothing is impossible and it’s never too late!

In the end, maybe some day someone opens a school of windsurfing that will cover all these spiritual principles. I believe this would be an unusually efficient way of learning windsurfing and spiritual knowledge.

I wish you good winds, above the water and in your souls!

Some more years passed, I did practice, and practice...
And I am still practicing and enjoying in it.
There is nothing better than this.
Mind. Body. And Wind.