By Whit Hornsberger
Whit Hornsberger is a new transplant to Vancouver having just arrived from Victoria. After an ACL tear ended his basketball career, Whit threw himself into his yoga practice and now finds harmony through exploring Buddhist teachings. Look for more of Whit on the new fall schedule starting in September!
Welcome all kinds of experience, both pleasant and painful, and it will never harm us. For the truth lies hidden everywhere, within every experience and every object of the universe. Everything that happens to us, no matter how seemingly trivial, offers some tiny clue which could lead us to Self-realization.
- Swami Prabhavananda
Two weeks ago my partner Nicole and I moved from Victoria to this beautiful city we all call home. The
initial plan was to spend the summer hanging out on our favourite beaches of southern Vancouver Island
and move to Vancouver for September 1st. The universe however had other plans, on May 28th the decision was made to give notice to our landlord, we had to be out of our place by the end of June.
And so the Craigslist addiction began. Nicole and I virtually lived on the website for 3 weeks in hopes of finding a new home in beautiful Kitsilano. With the abrupt change of plans we had no choice but to cancel our 10 day meditation retreat in southern Washington, scheduled for the middle of June. We were both pretty disappointed but knew it was the right thing to do.
For three consecutive weeks we boarded the BC Ferries from Swartz Bay and spent hours driving up and down every street in Kitsilano hoping to find a vacant gem to move into. With this tiring schedule it became increasingly difficult to find my way to my mat and zafu (meditation cushion). On the final morning of one of our visits, a day we were supposed to be on retreat, I – stressed and tired – whined to Nicole that I just wanted to be down south, in silence, surrounded by the wise teachings of Buddhism that have become central to my path. I thought to myself that if only I was on retreat, then I would be happy – everything would be okay. As my blood pressure rose, Nicole looked into my eyes and said “Whit, this is your retreat.” It was one of the most profound teachings I had ever received.
So it was through the inherent wisdom of the love of my life that I let go of trying to bend things to my liking and surrendered to the experience. Still at times my mind wonders of what I missed on retreat with two of my favorite teachers. However, I know the teachings I received from Nicole and from my practice off the mat were equally, if not more, vital to my spiritual growth.
When we are able to let go of grasping, we find an end to our suffering. We must be diligent in our practice on the mat and on the cushion, but when we cling to this form of our practice and become frustrated when we can’t get there, we suffer. What happens to our “practice” when the body gets sick, when we have a physical injury or ailment that prevents us from getting to class, or when life simply “gets in the way”? It is our task as practitioners of yoga to find the refuge of practice both on and off the mat.
Going on retreat is a gift that I encourage everyone to try, at least once. But if we can only find peace and clarity when we remove ourselves from the reality of our lives, then we are completely missing the point. We come to the mat, go on retreat, or wake up at the crack of dawn to sit in silence. This way we can more smoothly navigate the inevitably rough waters life throws our way. The practice of yoga is a state of being and it doesn’t just take place when we walk through the doors of our favorite yoga studio. Each and every moment of our lives is an opportunity to awaken – each and every person we meet is a teacher, each breath and each step we take is an unrepeatable miracle. Everything that is happening to you at every single moment, although difficult to see at times, is precisely perfect.
May we all embody the spirit of yoga in each and every moment.
The practice never ends.
May you be filled with loving-kindness.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.