ANCHORS IN AN OPEN SEA
Sailing into the full catastrophe of living.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be driven, most of your life, by an overwhelming desire for spiritual experience?
Explore with Alice through thirty tumultuous years, cycling, tramping, sailing, making love, sitting through spiritual retreats, teaching and raising a family. Taste life through mystical eyes, experience being raised to heaven, experience the torment of being plunged to earth when the heart fails.
Endlessly curious about life and the human journey, Alice throws herself with abandon into the natural world, rough and raw, creating heroic confusion while plunging deeply into the mystery of mind. What she discovers at the end is not what she expected.
This is your chance to travel with her and come to understand why her desire for spiritual experience was so overwhelming and why she found it so hard to make peace with ordinary living.
The autobiographical honesty and poetical language make this story compelling. Hang on as you sail off with her into the ocean of stunning sunsets and wild waves.
The Yoga of Sailing
Leaping free from the world into spiritual experience.
A romp with Alice, her daughter Emily and father Roger, on an adventure through the Pacific. Sailing is the protagonist of the story – the sails, the sea, the winds, the islands and the sea-sickness.
Alice journeys into nature, leaping to freedom, caught in a mystery she doesn’t understand. She knows her wondrous mystical experiences don’t last, they don’t solve anything, but she’s stuck. Ordinary life seems mediocre and unfulfilling. She can’t let any of it go.
While Emily is missing her boyfriend, Alice is falling in love with her mystical beloved – that is until she falls in love with a man. The confusions multiply. Alice spins fantasy and reality, the mystical and sexual into an all-consuming romance.
Alice embraces the sailing, exploring, cycling, backpacking – capturing the detail, the beauty, the poignant conflict. She is searching but she doesn’t know what she is searching for, what is driving her, so she questions it all, frustrating everyone around her. She is careening full steam towards something, be it disaster or salvation.
Buddha and a Boat
Digging into the mystery when life gets sticky.
Alice, Roger and Cornelius set sail from Fiji for Vanuatu and New Caledonia and the adventure and excitement continue. They share watches through the day and night, cope with seasickness, struggle with headwinds, and Cornelius is almost immobilised with an unexplained pain in his leg.
When she goes cycling solo around Vanuatu, Alice explores teachings from earlier retreats and she reflects on her early life as she hitches alone around New Caledonia. She is swept into the lives of a local Kanak family. She starts to see why she is the way she is. When some of the family visit from New Zealand the pressure builds to explosive and she falls apart.
We also see Alice as an older woman – softer and wiser. She is with her children, who are now almost the age she was when she went sailing. She has a deeper perspective, and we see that she has succeeded in bringing her two worlds together. We don’t know how she did it, or exactly what that means, but we do see that she is different, and that she has something to share.
Book Reviews: The Yoga of Sailing and Buddha and a Boat, by Dyana Wells
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
Excerpt from the review …
We continue the story of Alice and her romance and often stormy relationship with Cornelius. There are many facets to his character but he seems to have deep seated anger issues related to his mother. He often takes his frustration out on Alice. She finds him frustrating along with dealing with her father Roger and his on again, off again sailing schedule. Roger seems to almost daily change his mind as to what his plans are. Throw into the mix his jealously of Cornelius and you have a very complex set of relationships: perhaps they might catch the next flight out of paradise?
Alice’s children later on in life are starting to have real life issues. They have to cope with the death of their father while dealing with issues from their past that seem to filter through their life as adults.
I did enjoy this book, almost crying when Alice’s father died while she accompanied him back to New Zealand on his much loved Dream-Maker and his consequential burial at sea. Anybody who has lost a parent can empathise with Alice and the grief she must have felt.
My True Names
Standing in the presence of our daemons.
Alice and Cornelius begin the adventure of a lifetime, sailing from Fiji through Vanuatu and the Solomon archipelago on to the islands of Papua New Guinea. The pristine waters abound with tropical fish and coral, the volcanic islands are alive with gardens and lush jungle.
Alice wants to keep sailing forever, in spite of serious relationship difficulties. She repeats her mantra – stay present and be interested. Of course she fails, most often she fails, and yet she knows that until she comes close to what frightens her the most, until she befriends her most difficult moments, whatever she found that was valuable in her mystical adventures will be lost. She has everything to gain and everything to lose.
The older, wiser Alice is now teaching, incorporating neurophysiological models of consciousness. Her daughter Charlotte, thoroughly dispirited about what humans do to themselves and others, comes to study with her. Alice introduces her to the Foundation Teaching of Buddhism and Tantric Creative Visualisation, so that Charlotte too may accept this human life and work for the benefit of all beings.
The catch is that nowhere outside a harbour is safe, but harbours are boring. I sit alone on deck and follow shadowy waves back to the mountains of mainland Fiji in the distance, back into the great brooding creature called life. Surely my destiny, the destiny of humankind upon this planet, is to know ourselves in the richest possible way, to bring into our knowing this great brooding nurturing planet, which over millions of years wove us into being. We are inextricably each other.
I wake several times in the night from difficult dreams. However, I’m not lost in the sweeping, crashing anxiety – I’m the unshakeable calm of the ocean, the container of the stories. This is progress.
Memories of the relationship I left behind. We’re all dreaming of romance on this boat. He’s never far away, this man of flesh and blood, the man I took into my heart for ten tumultuous years, the man I could neither live with nor live without. He’s a huge unsorted mess inside me. I didn’t know how to start on the mess, so I sailed away from him. In my memory we stand on opposite sides of an abyss, into which a light never shined, into which we fell, over and over.
I can’t get away and I don’t want to. His long fingers trace my body, as myself; his intoxicatingly sweet breath trickles into my lungs, as me; his deep voice cascades through my quivering body, delighting every wobble of my internal landscape. What’s to be done with me? The boundaries are no longer clear. When I had babies, I didn’t know who was who in our vulnerable intimacy. I was full of feelings I couldn’t name. I slept cuddled around their porcelain bodies, sunk in the mystery of identity. I’m the same now. When I lifted a new baby into my arms I couldn’t take my eyes away, I couldn’t stop looking, smelling, touching – my baby, me, tumbling together.