Giving meaning to ASC
The experiences of ASC do not have any meaning in themselves. They are usually – often after struggling efforts – experienced as pleasant states of being and can even have an addictive effect. At other times they lead to increased irritability, discomfort and hypersensibility. However, it is the cultural context – the habitus and discourse in particular -which gives the experiences of ASC meaning and determines whether they are acceptable and worth striving after (Kroll and Bachrach 2005).
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Take as an example a young modern teenager who increasingly isolates herself socially from any contact with the outer world. She begins to fast, hardly sleeps at night and in the end embarks on cutting herself with razorblades. She finally reports that she hears voices. In a modern habitus (or context) of psychological sign systems, we would find that she was in need of psychological help. However, in a medieval European habitus (context) she might have been seen as a saint, who could hear the voices of angels – two very opposing attributions of meaning and valuation of the same event and person.
This is what discourses, habitus and culture do. I suggest in relation to yoga that a discourse in general gives signification and value to ASC and their related technologies. Discourses on their side are often guided and orientated by the prevailing habitus. A yoga discourse typically – but not always – defines the ASC generators it accepts and then defines the purpose and benefits of generating this state of consciousness. Over more than 2000 years we have encountered an impressive range of yoga discourses, all giving very diverse and opposing meanings and values to various ASCs and their associated technologies. Here are some of the purposes ascribed to yoga through ages:
They are included in the pose instructions in this book and Yoga flow are listed here as a summary. Open to Grace: Begin the practice by pausing to Yoga flow soften, to become sensitive, and to recognize a bigger perspective that links your individual self to the universal. Become receptive to all possibilities in yourself and in the practice. Foundation: The Foundation of any pose is the part that is on the floor or the seat of a chair. In the poses listed here it could be the feet, the hands, or the pelvic sitting bones. Root down evenly through all parts of the Foundation for stability. In the case of the hands and feet, the Foundation has four corners. See the illustration on 235.