Keha tahenduse ja rolli muutumine: kasitlused eesti uue vaimsuse opetustes ja nende jargijate seas
The Roles and Meanings of the Body in Estonian Spiritual Teachings
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As an ongoing tendency in Western cultures the body has gained more importance both in mundane and transcendent issues. Contrary to the Christian (and, in Estonian context, especially Lutheran) understandings of body and flesh as obstacles, “spiritual approach makes the body itself the site of the sacred: the contemporary person relates to transcendence and the divine on the basis of the experience of his/her own body” (Giordan 2009: 233). Physical dimension is also an important element for Estonian spiritual practitioners. For instance, popular practices like yoga or taijiquan, although in Western forms taken often as mere physical training, cultivate different body perception and lead to a spiritual experience through physical means. Participation in alternative medical and spiritual practices increases people’s bodily awareness, making the body more ‘present’. The practices of new spirituality often emphasise the role of the body and its sensations. For example, in some teachings, the body has something that can be seen as its own ‘consciousness’ and/or ‘language’, which mediates the ‘inner’ and ‘natural’ knowledge. Practitioners try to establish a dialogue with the body, to hear its voice and interpret its signs properly. The body is seen as an ‘intelligent’ partner, dissolving the rigid dualism of the mind as a conscious subject and the body as a material object. Based on fieldwork observations, in-depth interviews and conversations as well as an Internet-based questionnaire, the article observes the different roles that the body and body-communication take in the Estonian spiritual milieu. It is visible how spiritual practices lead to different body-awarenesses and conceptualisations of the body. New spirituality offers both physical means and specific meanings for novel embodied experiences and understandings of the role of the body.
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