Whit Hornsberger

I started playing the game of life in the prairie town of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in August of 1982. My loving parents tell me I began running full throttle at nine months and the scars that map my body tell the stories of joy and sorrow that I have experienced inside this incredible gift of a human body.

Ever since I was a young boy I couldn’t get enough physical activity to subdue the “ants in my pants” my grandfather always joked about. Sitting still was not for me and any physical activity that allowed me to express myself became my refuge. Everything in life was secondary to the incredible happiness I enjoyed through the gift of athleticism.

By grade 9 I was obsessively training as an athlete and it was the game of basketball that filled my heart, and the role of “athlete” became my entire identity. There was nothing else of importance and countless hours were spent training to prove that even an undersized kid from the prairies could ball with the best.

That tireless work ethic led to a scholarship from the University of Calgary where I started as the point guard for 4 years. In the fall of 2005, entering my final season for the Dinos and with interest from professional teams in Europe, a routine dribble move flipped my world upside down. In a flash I found myself lying on the court with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and a heartbreaking realization that my career and childhood dream of becoming a pro athlete was over.

Little did I realize then that the physical rehabilitation of my knee was just a scratch on the surface of the healing that needed to take place inside my being. At age 24 I found myself in the darkest corners of my mind, suffering from chronic physical pain from over-training and an apathetic approach to life. I had always been “Whit the basketball player” and, with no sense of who I now was, my mindset became increasingly warped by a feeling of unworthiness. For years I battled my mind’s depression and stories that suggested living wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Enter YOGA.

I had been introduced to yoga when I was still competing, ignorantly and ironically referring to it as “something girls do”, dismissing it and instead pursuing the egoic type of “no pain no gain” training that eventually broke my body down. Unbeknownst and gratefully the seed had been planted and yoga found me when I moved to Victoria, BC in 2006. I spent the next 18 months of my life in deep self-inquiry rehabbing my broken vessel.

In search for meaning, I ran away with my backpack and boards, pursuing a long time dream of traveling and surfing the world. I spent the next two years of my life chasing summer around the globe and seeking out the healing power of mother nature’s energy lines.

One day while living in Australia, my eyes were magnetically drawn to the spine of a book entitled “The Art of Happiness”. In a flash of witness consciousness I came face to face with the toxic reality of my mind and jokingly laughed at myself, admitting that I certainly was not happy and if this is an art, I want to study it. In the book, the Dalai Lama’s wisdom pointed me in the direction I needed to go to heal my broken heart and mind. I realized how little all the accolades and attention I received from sport meant, how self-absorbed I had been in the pursuit of athletic success and how much I had abused my body in the process, a sense of guilt I still work with today.

Ever since, I have been deeply fascinated by and engaged in the wisdom traditions of Buddhism and Yoga. Yoga and meditation came into my life as the healing tools for a desperate and broken man and I am eternally grateful to the long line of beings that have had the courage to study the human dilemma and provide all of us a pathway to wholeness.

My injuries, both physical and mental have been the greatest source of teaching and wisdom and have invoked a deep sense of empathy towards all sentient beings that are suffering in one form or another. It is my past and present personal failures, sorrows and mistakes that continue to fill the well of compassion and inspire me to help guide other’s along their own healing path.

Yoga is not the only way. It’s the way that has worked for me and allowed me to reclaim my birthright to live fully and love wholly. Non-judgmental self-awareness and mindful self-inquiry form the foundation of our path of awakening. It is my intention to connect students to the ultimate source of wisdom, the teachings of life and relationship.

This is not about accomplishments or attainment and although we can rejoice in the gift of the physical practice, we must do so with the wisdom of non-attachment, for this body will age, fall ill and one day return into the ground from which it sprung. We are only renting this virtual reality suit and eventually it must be returned. Instead may we make room for the yogasana’s to become our vehicles for self-awakening and the entry point to reclaiming our full human evolutionary potential through the study of the Self.

May all beings be free of fear and harm.
May all beings be well in body and mind.
May all being be peaceful and at ease.

With metta,

Whit

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