A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Maria Kozhevnikov through the Department of Psychology for the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences showed, the very first time, that it must be possible for core Body temperature for being controlled through the brain. The scientists found that increase in core body temperature may be accomplished using certain meditation techniques (g-tummo) that could aid in boosting immunity to fight infectious diseases or immunodeficiency.
Published in science journal PLOS One March 2013, the analysis documented reliable core temperature increases for the first time in Tibetan nuns practising g-tummo meditation. Previous studies on g-tummo meditators showed only increases in peripheral body’s temperature from the fingers and toes. The g-tummo meditative practice controls “inner energy” which is considered by Tibetan practitioners among the most sacred spiritual practices in the community. Monasteries maintaining g-tummo traditions are incredibly rare and therefore are mostly located in the remote aspects of eastern Tibet.
The study collected data throughout the unique ceremony in Tibet, where nuns were able to raise their core body temperature and exsiccate wet sheets wrapped around their bodies inside cold Himalayan weather (-25 degree Celsius) while meditating. Using electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and temperature measures, the c’s observed increases in core blood heat nearly 38.3 degree Celsius. An additional study was conducted with Western participants who used a breathing technique of the g-tummo meditative practice and they were also in a position to increase their core body’s temperature, within limits.
Applying the analysis findings
The findings in the study showed that specific areas of the meditation techniques may be used by non-meditators to modify their body temperature through breathing and imagination. The techniques may allow practitioners to adapt to and function in cold environments, improve capacity infections, boost cognitive performance by quickening response time reducing performance problems linked to decreased body temperature.
Both aspects of g-tummo meditation contributing to temperature increases are “vase breath” and concentrative visualisation. “Vase breath” is usually a specific breathing technique which causes thermogenesis, which is a procedure for heat production. The opposite technique, concentrative visualisation, involves emphasizing a imagery of flames down the spinal cord as a way to prevent heat losses. Both techniques work in conjunction ultimately causing elevated temperatures around the moderate fever zone.
Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov explained, “Practicing vase breathing alone is really a safe strategy to regulate core temperature within a normal range. The participants whom I taught it to were able to elevate themselves temperature, within limits, and reported feeling more energised and focused. With further research, non-Tibetan meditators can use vase breathing to raise their health insurance and regulate cognitive performance.”
Further research into controlling blood heat
Assoc Prof Kozhevnikov continues to explore the effects of guided imagery on neurocognitive and physiological aspects. The girl with currently training a group of people to modify themselves temperature using vase breathing, that’s potential applications in the field of medicine. Furthermore, the application of guided imagination in partnership with vase breathing may cause higher body temperature increases and better health.
The abstract of this article is as following.
Stories of g-tummo meditators mysteriously able to dry wet sheets wrapped around their naked bodies during a frigid Himalayan ceremony have intrigued scholars and laypersons alike for a century. Study 1 was conducted in remote monasteries of eastern Tibet with expert meditators performing g-tummo practices while their axillary temperature and electroencephalographic (EEG) activity were measured. Study 2 was conducted with Western participants (a non-meditator control group) instructed to use the somatic component of the g-tummo practice (vase breathing) without utilization of meditative visualization. Reliable increases in axillary temperature from normal to slight or moderate fever zone (up to 38.3°C) were observed among meditators only during the Forceful Breath type of g-tummo meditation accompanied by increases in alpha, beta, and gamma power. The magnitude of the temperature increases significantly correlated with the increases in alpha power during Forceful Breath meditation. The findings indicate that there are two factors affecting temperature increase. The first is the somatic component which causes thermogenesis, while the second is the neurocognitive component (meditative visualization) that aids in sustaining temperature increases for longer periods. Without meditative visualization, both meditators and non-meditators were capable of using the Forceful Breath vase breathing only for a limited time, resulting in limited temperature increases in the range of normal body temperature. Overall, the results suggest that specific aspects of the g-tummo technique might help non-meditators learn how to regulate their body temperature, which has implications for improving health and regulating cognitive performance.
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Source: Kozhevnikov M, Elliott J, Shephard J, Gramann K (2013) Neurocognitive and Somatic Components of Temperature Increases during g-Tummo Meditation: Legend and Reality. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58244. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058244
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