Journal

Postcards from first surf camps in Lagos 2018/2019

PURIFICATION 

Do you know this feeling when you are already on holiday, but only with your body, and the soul needs a moment, a day, maybe a few, to reach and really rest and enjoy fully?  I have it on every trip. This time, however, something unexpected happened to me. Ocean waves took me – literally;) and cleansed: my body, soul, the whole man. And they made me happy immediately and thoroughly. I felt like I was washed out in happiness. After the first session, waiting for the second, I looked at the ocean for two hours with a smile on my face and no single thought in my head. Who would have thought that the oldest water sport would satisfy a modern man striving to meet immediate pleasure? However, when it comes to surfing itself, it’s not so fast at all.  I met myself on the waves persistent, not giving up, stubborn as hell. I met myself respecting my physical limitations and a new pace of learning. But I also met myself demanding, expecting, which took away fun and lots of energy.  The primary, wild and uncompromising ocean required more. Physical effort? Also. But above all, he reminded me of focusing on what is inside of me, the feeling of self-confidence when external circumstances are not favorable – aggressive people, someone’s definitive emotions, unforeseen situations – destabilizing waves can symbolize all of these. And you are like a rock, you have this confidence and a clear task to do: 0 two additional paddles, 1. stand up on your hands 2. put your back foot on the board 3. put your front foot on the board and 4. stay low. Simple! And yet it required many attempts, waves on the face (though apparently pure „ajons” of happiness), fatigue, „you bitch” directed to the wave, but above all fun to finally stand on the board every time and even surf several times in white foam. All it takes is one ride on a surfboard, and you’re hooked. It’s all you want to do.

CAMP 

Welcome to the jungle! A large villa with surf „tattoos” on the walls, a swimming pool, and lots of places for chill, yoga and arbor for massage with the scent of white roses. The Baraka Bar with lounges lined with polyamide kites and boards on the walls is the heart of the whole camp. Don’t expect luxury, refurbished, designer rooms. Perfectionism is boring, not true, it covers something. And this is completely not in the nature of the surfers. Here it is authentic, imperfect, artistically – medium rare. Every day someone comes, someone leaves. Stories, constant jokes, joys or doing nothing at all. Your everyday life is embraced at the highest level. You feel well loooked after, listened by the support team – it’s strange to write this way about them, because these people are your mates right away. Oli, Sabinki and Beka are very efficient, they gracefully and with all their heart manage the whole surf caravan. I felt like a home full of freedom, magic and air.

SHARING SURF LOVE

When you travel alone, all it’s up to you. You see more, feel more intensely, you are more attentive, open to people and, above all, you decide by yourself. You create your own experience. However, when you recommend a place to someone or even take people with you, you take responsibility. I had no doubt that the people who decided to come with me (and they were not my friends who contain all the mistakes and misses) will be more than satisfied. I did not suspect, however, that they would leave in delighted, changed with transforming experiences. There was everything: surrendering after the first day, beginner’s luck, impatience, patience, steadfastness, fight with the waves, surrender to the waves, talk with the waves, shattered ego, big and small victories, lots of laughter and joy. I watched it all with delight. I experienced a lot on the waves and despite a lot of mindfulness and space I lacked the time to gather and stay with those experiences from the waves, to meditate them. I have a deep conviction that surfing shows vividly how are you in your life. What areas require attention and care. This is the deepest form of meditation known to me. The waves, in addition to cleaning and making the whole person happy, can be diagnosis for: the level of self-confidence or peace that you have in yourself; it is also possible to ruthlessly smash the ego or expose beliefs, limitations, expectations. That is why I want to serve an even more complete experience on site, so that everyone could leave with a wider and deeper insight into what they really experienced and what they can do with it. This is why my camp will be combined with surf thinking – self love coaching method. As surfing is a very deep immersion in oneself, while staying in a group.

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.
Jean Wallace

Surfing as a resilience practice

Being in the unknown is what we all experienced a lot last year. What we can do is to learn how to live with unpredictable. There are many ways, methods to strengthen our ability to adapt, recover, be more agile. But surfing can really shake all fears out of us and teach that when we focus on our internal kingdom, when we take care of our heart and soul, not only our mind and body (with last two we start to do pretty well) then we can really be more resistant and resilient to the waves of life that we face.

How can surf retreat influence your business?

I do not want to write that the effectiveness, commitment and motivation of your team will increase, and the KPIs will soar, because those kind of sentences make me a bit sick;) but if you need them, I will put it in one sentence: you will shape and strengthen the most desirable competence in the upcoming years:

RESILIENCE

defined as: the ability to adapt to constantly changing conditions, the speed of recovering from strong life experiences, mental capacity.

By the way I can also take you on the best resilience program (with slow jogging) provided in PL: https://sylwialewandowska.com/resilience/

During surf retreat you will experience being together in a completely different way than everything you know so far, connecting on all levels: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. You will learn many lessons that you can apply to running your business. And, of course  you will have a lot of fun together too.

The ancients knew what we have forgotten: play Is part of what makes us human. Working too hard doesn’t necessarily lead to increased productivity or happiness or sense of community. Play is essential part of human evolution, because it opens up doors to creativity, spontaneity and visions of new ways of being in the world”. And this is the point that the magic can happen for your business life…

‘The best environment to practice resilience and acting in the unknown is…the ocean’

A good time for such a retreat is some transition threshold for the team: new boss, new project, merger, etc.

Let’s connect so as to co-create compelling retreat for your team. I will embrace your team context. Maybe we will even design a completely different flow of the program for your team.

Just let your people go surfing and see what happens…

Aloha Spirit

Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self.

Aloha is a philosophy of life. It tells that we should live in harmony with ourselves, with our surroundings, with nature and with the Earth. We are all part of Nature.

Aloha is the basic principle of Hawaiian life to this day, which has been enshrined in state laws as the legal basis for living in Hawaii. This means that people holding high government positions such as mayors, judges and other officials are even obliged to treat residents in accordance with the Aloha philosophy.

From chapter 5 of Hawaii revised status

 

 

Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. ’

Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.

Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.

Aloha„, the following unuhi laulā loa may be used:
Akahai„, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
Lōkahi„, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
ʻOluʻolu” meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
Haʻahaʻa„, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
Ahonui„, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaiʻi.

Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.
In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the „Aloha Spirit”.

Aloha allows everyone to maintain a balance between mind and a loving heart. The mind is always faster than the emotions and the heart. We very often receive a lot of different information, make quick decisions without communicating with the heart, without listening to the voice of the heart and without consulting the emotions coming from the belly. In addition, we eat fast, drink fast, and we are in a hurry all the time. We do not pay attention to the past day and our emotions. Our life can be compared to a fast train, which is constantly in a hurry somewhere and no one really knows when it will arrive or where. That is why Hawaiians call Europeans „Haole” – people without breath.

Given the above that emotions are always slower than the mind, we should let the emotions accompanying events interact. We should focus on slowing down the pace of life, listening to our interior. Only then will we start to live in a different way, see things that we have not seen so far, hear thoughts that we have not known so far, come solutions that are very positive for us.

 

  Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

 

 

Surfing – the sport of Kings and! Queens

Words by Lauren Hill

With roots entwined amongst the royalty of Ancient Polynesia, surfing has been called The Sport of Kings. But to use this name alone is to deny the full and rightful history of the art of riding waves. It has always also been The Sport of Queens.

Surfing has been part of Hawaiian culture since the fourth century when Polynesians settled the islands and brought wave riding with them. In pre-contact Hawaii, surfing was for everyone; mothers, grandfathers, warriors, princesses, children. In fact, historians of Ancient Polynesia acknowledge that it was women who seemed to stand in the highest regard for their skill, grace and poise as surfers. Woven deep into the chants and lore of our surfing culture’s roots are the stories of revered women who rode waves with utmost grace and athleticism.

Surfing was of such value to early Hawaiians that it was forbidden to work or war during prime surf season – everyone took a full three months off over winter for social bonding via play and playful competition — called The Makahiki Festival. The ecological abundance of the Hawaiian islands meant food was easily accessed, and so leisure was also abundant.

Princess Ka`iulaini from around the year 1899.

Princess Ka`iulaini from around the year 1899.

Back then, people knew what we have forgotten; that play is part of what makes us human. That working too hard or too often doesn’t necessarily lead to increased productivity or happiness or a sense of community. Play has been an essential part of human evolution because it opens up doors to creativity, spontaneity, and envisioning new ways of being in the world. Most human cultures have tended to have more leisure time than work.

Though wave riding may have predated pre-contact Hawaiian culture elsewhere, Hawaii is recognised as the edified, spiritual home of modern surf culture. He’e Nalu, or wave sliding, was an integral aspect of Hawaiian life before European colonisation. Surfing played a role in romance, ceremony and spiritual practice. A man and woman riding a wave together was considered flirting, and often translated to relations back on land. Hawaiian myth and lore make surfing inexorable from spiritual life, even deities surfed. Back then, people knew what we have forgotten; that play is part of what makes us human

In pre-contact Hawaii heiau, or temples, were constructed throughout the Islands in dedication to various essential aspects of life: healing, growing, rain, safe voyaging, It is thought that some heiau were even dedicated to surfing. These temples were built atop bluffs for waveriders to contemplatively watch the surf below and pray for favourable conditions.

Jeux havaiens, or, Hawaiians playing, depicting women surfing from around 1873.

Jeux havaiens, or, Hawaiians playing, depicting women surfing from around 1873.

According to myth, Goddess Pele of volcanoes is referenced as one of the earliest surfers. She was taught by Kamohaoli’I, aumakua (guardian) shark god, subsequently taught her youngest sister-goddess Hi’iaka and men followed after.

In one myth, Hiʻiaka, goddess of hula, chanting, and medicine, is charged by Pele to a treacherous journey through the Islands to find Pele’s favored chief Lohi’au. Upon her arrival, Hi’iaka discovers that Lohi’au has died, possibly from grief in Pele’s absence. She temporarily chants and sings life back into him, but knows that the only way to permanently resuscitate him is to take him surfing. As referenced in Ian ʻAkahi Masterson’s Heʻe Wahine I Ka Lani: Goddess in the Surf: “As they rose upon the wave, the dorsals of the giant fishes of the sea surged up and down on that same billow that they climbed. Hiʻiaka stood upon the surface of the water with her skirt of pahapaha seaweed and mōkila grass fluttering behind her. And Lohiʻau tried out every possible surfing stance, each of which he could perform with ease… Nothing could compare to the beauty of this surfing…”

Goddess Hiʻiaka, in all her skill with the healing arts, knew that riding waves was the perfect medicine for a broken heart.

In Hawaiian myth, mortals and supernatural beings regularly intermingle. Such was the case with Mamala, a surfing kapua, or shape-shifter, who transformed from beautiful woman to a great shark, or a gigantic lizard. In one tale, Mamala is caught in a love triangle between another kapua and a chief. The story does not end well for the male kapua, but what is abundantly documented in the myth is Mamala’s great athleticism. She was known for dancing upon even the biggest surf with skill and allegedly loved the wild, windy waves whipped up within the bay of Kou (modern day Honolulu Harbor). The ocean West of Waikiki is named in her honor: Ke-kai-o- Mamala (the Sea of Mamala).

On the island of Hawai’i, during the ancient times of the gods and goddesses, Punahoa was a revered surfing chiefess. One epic tale recounts the time when her surfing skill was challenged by a group of men. She was celebrated for never losing her board and asserting her confidence in the water, with her surfing surpassed only by the supreme skill of goddess Hiʻiaka.

There’s the saying of knowing what came before, helps us understand the steps forward. And with the likes of Carissa Moore et al at the helm of women’s surfing, the future isn’t just bright because it’s already here. We’re in it.

As Hi’iaka’s lore has reminded many generations, Polynesian healers were well aware of surfing’s ability to be deeply reviving to the human spirit. Some time around 400 A.D., four wave-worshipping Tahitian healers known as kāhuna or mystics, travelled to Hawaii and became renowned for their curative magic: Kahaloa, Kinohi, Kapuni and Kapaemahu. The four kahuna were māhū, meaning “in the middle,” and represented the third gender as men who identified and lived as women. They mixed the girthy stature of Polyneisan men with the grace of Polynesian women, and must have been beautifully skilled surfers.
The kāhuna knew that they would eventually return to Tahitian shores, but wanted to leave a lasting legacy in Hawai’i. Besides performing many miracles of healing, the kāhuna enlisted thousands of their followers to transport four mammoth stones – each weighing more than a ton – from the highlands to rest near the coast.

Today in the heart of Waikīkī, lay four gated stones, Nā Pōhaku Ola Kapaemāhū a Kapuni, or “The Stones of Life,” associated with those four magical māhū kāhuna. The stones are charged with their healing mana. A section of beach and a stretch of Waikiki surf is named in their honour.

The legend of the great surfing Princess Kelea, or Ali’i Wahine Keleanohoana’api’api, circa 1445, depicts the reality across time and space of hōpūpū, or “surf fever,” the desperation of going too long without riding waves. Princess Kelea was known as the best surfer on Maui.

An O’ahu chief stole her away when he saw her beauty amongst the surf, provoked by the great skill and notoriety she might bring to his clan with her surfing prowess. Princess Kelea eventually married his cousin, a high ranking chief, and moved to their village in the uplands of O’ahu. Kelea birthed four children there, but eventually longed so deeply for the surf that she left her family to be with the ocean once again.

When she returned to the ocean and rode a sweeping south swell at Kalehuawehe, she also rediscovered a former love interest, Kalamakua. He wrapped his cape around her as she stepped ashore, symbolic of the unity of marriage. They soon wed and gave birth to Lāʻieikawai, known as the most beautiful woman in all the islands. A happy ending for the surfer who stays true to her passions.

She Surf is the definitive anthology of articles and interviews around female surfing. An informative and brilliant read from cover-to-cover.

She Surf is the definitive anthology of articles and interviews around female surfing. An informative and brilliant read from cover-to-cover.

You can get your copy here: https://gestalten.com/products/she-surf 

When European notions of religiosity and alternatively rigid gender divisions came to govern Polynesia and beyond, the wild freedom of wave riding was nearly lost completely, and later assumed as an endeavour only for men.

“By 1900,” legendary Olympic swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku declared, “surfing had totally disappeared throughout the Islands, except for a few isolated spots… and even there only a handful of men took boards into the sea.” Christian missionaries’ puritanical distaste for pursuits like nearly-nude wave riding, where men and women mingled amongst the slippery sea, meant an environment not permissive of surfing. But even more significant was the decimation that came from infectious disease and the introduction of the cash economy that squashed Hawaiians once ample leisure time. With newly introduced sugar plantations to work, there was no time for surfing.

A notable exception was Princess Victoria Ka`iulaini,“an expert surfrider,” according to early Twentieth Century surfer Knute Cottrell. Princess Ka`iulaini surfed the olo, a long and exceptionally heavy board reserved for royalty. Hers was made from the wili wili tree. One cannot overestimate the skill, power and strength needed to successfully ride the olo.

Princess Ka’iulani, a half-Hawaiian, half-Scottish waterwoman, served as a brave liaison between the cultures she bridged and helped to keep the tradition of surfing alive amidst the radical changes of European colonisation. At only 17, she played an active role in the preservation of Hawaiian culture during colonisation.

Princess Ka’iulani is reputed to have taken surfing to England, where she rode waves in the English Channel and may have been the first woman to stand up surf in England. Despite her early death at age 23, Princess Ka’iulaini’s noble legacy of speaking truth to power is undeniable.

Before the threats of colonisation, a culture rich in aquatic lore and myth abounded in Polynesia. Surfing was part of a rich and sensuous way of life, that included hula, chanting, and outlets for play entwined with spirituality.

As made clear in Surfing, Sex, Genders and Sexualities, “The significance of females in surfing history may be all but lost in ‘modern’ history and practice, but… it is captured in oral histories of surfing goddesses (akua), chiefesses (ali’i), priestesses (kahuna), and shape-shifters (kupua).”

Pre-contact and old Hawaiian stories recount some of the legacy as female surfers, despite their omission from the dominant narrative of surfing legend and lore. The fact that skilled waveriders were crafted into Hawaiian mo’olelo, or myths and legends, is indicative of the reality of the inclusivity of early surfing cultures. A not so subtle reminder that riding waves is for everyone.

Surfing played a role in romance, ceremony and spiritual practice.
Lauren Hill