por: Sérgio Ramos
The idea of altars to me, where I was born and raised in Portugal, was only present in a church, in a very conventional way.
Setting up a cross, lighting candles and worshiping whatever that is, how ever that meant. And I would more often see it in chapels and churches, cemeteries even, in a very strict, structured and formal way.
Almost like you had to have permission to set up an altar in such formal way. And I was raised in this society, although very open to other religions, it was mostly Catholic. I never practiced it. My parents never really did.
The reason why they never baptized me was to let me choose my belief systems or practice my own beliefs, in the way that I wanted.
Later I saw myself seeking truth more than hollow beliefs.
That led me to become more aware of life’s mysteries, life’s most hermetic and mysterious vibes of nature, and within ourselves, us, holding the power of the mind or /and under the powers of the mind.
The powers that make our mind oscilate between diferent states. In the phenomenons of nature and chemistry there is a lot we don’t know and it is to that ‘unknown’ that I give the same strength of faith or belief that a god believer would give in his prayer.
So it’s in that void. It’s in that so vast and unknown space within our knowledge that I concede, to myself, that idea of god, as in the root and direction of our belief.
For me that idea of worshiping something that is unknown, is not just for the sake of being unknown.
I realized that everything else under our sense-scope is under our physical perception, but all these things are under the influence of something greater, something that we can call the ‘unknown’.
Many sciences have labeled it, when coming to confront these facts in their research, as space or ether. 99.9% of an atom is space, it is web of energy fields. And from that, we include all our physical life forms under this realization.
All is atom based: properties, elements, compounds, substances, and 99.9% of it is just space. And what are all these substances based on? So that’s where on a rational level I started to embrace the idea of god.
Also throughout my readings and studies, I think I came to terms of naming the idea of god, the absolute, the supreme or the supreme-self… Which is great. I think it gives space for the acceptance of different forms of that which is formless.
My rational self allowed other more subconscious parts to have importance, and allowed the more intuitive parts of myself to being supported and engage and participate in my life.
After awhile, slowly, gradually my understanding faded into and went through different forms of acknowledgement.
I used to think more about it in a meditation. Taking it to the day-to-day life, used to talk to people and try to see what is between us in that Space.
See what is there beyond the words they speak, and the words I perceive. In an attempt to expand my senses to a broader spectrum of understanding.
Later in life there was a practice of Yoga, that In me at the beginning, as I started to practice more consistently, it showed me different aspects of myself both in the physical and mental realms.
I changed a little bit. Became more assertive, more concerned about myself and also more attuned with the changes I could go through on a regular basis, being daily, weekly, monthly, seasonly,…
As time passed I saw myself becoming more devoted within the context of the practice and in touch with that side of Yoga that is very devoted, and of a worshiping nature, towards something.
Devoted to something that I could say is the Absolute, and in the yoga terminology called Ishvara, or in one syllable OM.
And in my studies as well I came into terms with that, learning what does that mean.
It’s not alone Hindu or of the Vedic culture. It is Yoga knowledge and a concept pretty much across many religions and practices around the world.
This to say that when I first started to practice, my devotion it was to the body and the myself, to listen to me, to make myself healthy, and make myself function right.
And who knew that this would lead me to a bigger all pervasive and inclusive consciousness of self, hey!
In my first trip to Mysore, India in the shala of Ashtanga Yoga there is a big altar, there a big devotional part to it, towards depicted deities, you can see it. It is practiced in a way that is not imposing it to any one of the students, but it is there.
It took me awhile to know how to embrace that. It is, at the start, beginning and end, an individual path to anyone.
There is this side of the practice that is spiritually devoted, and just going on the mat, for the body’s sake, for my own thing wasn’t enough most of the days. I would end up over exploiting myself, taking myself to points of exhaustion.
You know, there is a all circuit of energies around us and our body is within those circuits. Using our body, with our mind, we shouldn’t just cut loose from using those available circuits.
We could integrate them inside these inner circuits, inside these cycles, and at least have these paths open for us.
And Ashtanga Yoga practice really does this, the practice really helps. I started to practice with this connection, as in the devotion to something beyond myself.
One time I remember being on the mat, this was in the Mysore Main Shala, and to practice with the concept of Ishwara and OM and what this ended up meaning to me after the classes, studies and individual reflection.
Focusing on this I noticed it was taking the attention way from me and into something that is me as well (and ‘me’ here I mean ego, personality, idea of individual self, body) but also everything else.
I felt supported, like I was sharing responsibilities and concerns I was holding alone, felt watched over, while at the same time I was extra conscious of my actions, and with this energetically refreshed.
That’s how I became a bit more devoted and into practice of devotion on this journey. And it was the right way for me of becoming devoted, finding expansion beyond limited ideas of self, through practices of understanding, adoration and surrender.
“Yoga is a physical discipline with a spiritual intention”, few years after this event, this quote by Kino McGregor really culminated these thoughts in one sentence quite well.
Satsangs also help, where you absorve and surrender what is being said and the all meanings invade and uplift yourself.
Along this first experiences, I learned that bringing this devotional intention into our earthly, daily, actions has the same benefits mentioned above.
Even if there are clashes of energies, dense emotions and conflicts, in doing so. It is all brought forth to be observed, integrated and resolved.
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Sergio has teaching experience of traditional Mysore Style and Led Class, and teaching his own program and substituting teachers in Coimbra PT, Porto PT and Zurich CH and Cairns QLD AUS for extent periods of time. Currently with no teaching schedules.
The full month of August 2019, Sergio will be teaching at Blackforest Ashtanga Studio, in Freiburg, Germany, substituting the owner and authorized KPJAYI teacher, Boris Hopf.