If you are feeling cold, don’t switch on the heaters….. instead meditate.
We never like it if it is too hot or too cold. If we feel hot, we switch on the air conditioners or take a cold shower, if its too cold we cover our body with sweaters or shawls or use the heaters. We can easily control the surface temperature of our body by changing the environmental factors. But what if the temperature is such that nothing works? Especially in the cold environments? Researchers have found that in such conditions meditation can help us increase our internal body temperature also called as the core body temperature.
In South Asia, especially in Tibet, the monks control their core body temperature using an ancient form of meditation called “Tum-mo“. When doing the Tum -mo they generate a significant amount of heat.
Experiments conducted to study the effects of Tum-mo:
- In 1982, Herbert Benson, who is an associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, with his team did an experiment with three Indo-Tibetan Yogis in the Himalayan mountains. These monks, by performing the g-Tum-mo meditation raise the temperatures of their fingers and toes by 17 degrees.
- In 1985, another team recorded the monks drying cold and wet sheets with their body heat. They also made a video of the monks sleeping on a rocky ledge on a winter night in the month of February, 15,000 feet high in the Himalayas. The temperature that night had reached 0 degrees F. The monks slept peacefully without shivering wearing only thin woolen or cotton shawls.
- Later in 2013, researchers of the Singapore University observed Tibetan nuns during meditation. The temperature was about 25 degrees Celsius below zero. The nuns were dressed with wet clothes. In front of the scientist the nuns began meditation. They dried their wet clothes by the heat of their own body. Their body temperature reached 38.3 degree Celsius. The nuns had increased their core body temperature by g-Tum-mo.
g Tum-mo is also called the yoga of inner fire. This meditation technique is a combination of concentrative visualisation which is visualizing the inner fire burning along the spinal cord and some breathing exercises including the vase breath, that cause heat production. The study also showed that non-meditators can also use some of the aspects of the techniques and increase the body temperature. This can help people work in cold environments.
Associate Professor Maria Kozhevnikov from the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore, said: ‘Practicing “vase breathing” alone is a safe technique to regulate core body temperature in a normal range. ‘The participants whom I taught this technique to were able to elevate their body temperature, within limits, and reported feeling more energised and focused. ‘With further research, non-Tibetan meditators could use “vase breathing” to improve their health and regulate cognitive performance.’
This g Tum-mo is rare and only practiced in the remote areas of eastern Tibet. There are many other forms of meditation the monks practice to lower their metabolism. Metabolism is a process by which our body breaks down calories into energy. People gain weight fast if their body metabolism is slow. The monks by meditation lower their metabolism by almost 64% so that they can conserve their energy. Normally humans can lower their metabolism only by 15% be having a nice sleep.
In spite of these experiments and studies, science has not yet found an answer as to how the monks are able to generate such heat.