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Studies on a yogi during an eight-day confinement in a sealed underground pit

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Abstract

Yogi Satyamurti remained confined in a small underground pit (1.5 meter cube, sealed from the top) for 8 days, in what according to him was a state of 'Samadhi' or suspended animation. ECG was continuously monitored during these 8 days and various laboratory tests were carried out both before and after. Marked tachycardia gradually developed after the pit was sealed (heart rate 250/min) and persisted for nearly 29 hr. The ECG complexes were then replaced by an iso electric line. There was no electrical disturbance suggestive of disconnected leads. Normal complexes, however, reappeared on the eight day, half an hour before the pit was due to be opened. The Yogi was found in a stuporous condition, with an oral temperature of 34.8°C, and he began to shiver vigorously. Loss of weight and other biochemical changes were essentially the same as in total starvation. The yogic claim of a voluntary control over visceral functions, including the heart beat, still remains a very exciting and intriguing question.

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... Some yogis have claimed the ability to reduce or even suspend their need for food, water, and even oxygen. Following previous studies with yogis placed in underground pits, Kothari, Bordia, and Gupta (1973) tested a yogi buried in a pit for 8 days without access to water or food, who seemed to stop his heart until some minutes before being brought out, at which point he was emaciated. There are also case and group studies with yogis showing decrease of oxygen consumption between 40% (Craig Heller, Elsner, & Rao, 1987) and 32% (Telles, Reddy, & Nagendra, 2000), and evidence of an altered trait in that baseline respiration rate among long-term meditators with retreat practice was significantly lower than that of nonmeditators (Wielgosz, Schuyler, Lutz, & Davidson, 2016). ...
... Some meditation practitioners have exhibited the ability to dras tically reduce their metabolism, with some of them staying buried in pits for a long time without food or water, and with a limited amount of oxygen, in a state of suspended ani mation or samādhi. Perhaps the most thorough study of this claim was conducted by Kothari, Bordia, and Gupta (1973), who tested a yogi buried in an underground pit for eight days. He showed increased heart rate for the first twenty-nine hours, replaced by what looked like an unchanging electric signal, which restarted half an hour before the yogi was about to be raised, at which point he showed metabolic signs of initial starva tion. ...
Chapter
Contemplative traditions have posited that exceptional abilities can occur in conjunction with meditation. These claims have been often dismissed as mere fantasies, but some have been evaluated experimentally. This chapter reviews historical accounts from Asian and Western traditions about such abilities and summarizes the research on the relation of meditation with exceptional psychophysiological control and with parapsychological (psi) phenomena such as clairvoyance or precognition, which seem to bypass time and space constraints. There is some evidence that meditation may increase perceptual sensi­ tivity, bleeding and heart rate control, the ability to withstand cold temperatures and pain, and reduce metabolic responses. Analyses of cumulative research also suggest that meditation (particularly very long-term practice) is associated with greater-than-chance psi performance under controlled conditions. Nonetheless, the study of the relation be­ tween meditation and exceptional abilities has been scant, so more research on the topic is clearly warranted.
... Some yogis have claimed the ability to reduce or even suspend their need for food, water, and even oxygen. Following previous studies with yogis placed in underground pits, Kothari, Bordia, and Gupta (1973) tested a yogi buried in a pit for 8 days without access to water or food, who seemed to stop his heart until some minutes before being brought out, at which point he was emaciated. There are also case and group studies with yogis showing decrease of oxygen consumption between 40% (Craig Heller, Elsner, & Rao, 1987) and 32% (Telles, Reddy, & Nagendra, 2000), and evidence of an altered trait in that baseline respiration rate among long-term meditators with retreat practice was significantly lower than that of nonmeditators (Wielgosz, Schuyler, Lutz, & Davidson, 2016). ...
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This article summarizes and integrates research on the relation between altered consciousness (including states and traits, as well as procedures and practices to induce them) and enhanced functioning. The latter include improved psychophysiological control as well as enhanced performance in controlled parapsychological experiments. Multiple studies on meditation, hypnosis, sensory homogenization, psychoactive drug ingestion, and spontaneous alterations of consciousness have demonstrated enhanced physiological (e.g., gastrointestinal and other somatic systems, heart rate and bleeding control, ability to withstand cold temperature and painful stimuli) and psychological (e.g., perceptual sensitivity, attention control and cognitive deautomatization, creativity, enhanced positive affect and personality change) functioning. Parapsychological (psi) research also indicates that when individuals are exposed to techniques to alter the state of consciousness such as sensory homogenization, meditation, hypnosis, and psychedelic drugs, they exhibit stronger evidence of psi functioning than when they are in ordinary waking consciousness, particularly if they are prone to having spontaneous alterations of consciousness and/or have had a mental practice for a long time. Recommendations for further development of research in this area are provided.
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... Like mentioned in the introduction, the mental stability could be related to sympathetic reduction and improvement in the parasympathetic activity contributing to stress and anxiety reductions. Many other studies about the effects of meditation practice have been indicating a number of physiological changes, such as increased GABA concentration [57], adrenalin and noradrenalin reductions [58], increased serotonin [59] and melatonin concentrations [60], which can be related to improvements on mood, reductions in body temperature [61, 62] and increased galvanic skin resistance [63], may be related to stress management, and also increased gray matter density in brain regions related to emotional regulation [64]. New studies with familial caregivers would evaluate more physiological parameters than presented in this study. ...
Article
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... The " Blue Pearl " sounds like a perfect description of a near-death experience. Master yogis can develop cardiac arrest or profound bradycardia while in very deep states of meditation (Kothari, Bordia, and Gupta, 1973a, 1973b). Do we become a pure soul when we meditate, project out of the body, or fall into a neardeath experience, passing through a tunnel of light as a transitional state? ...
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... Studies on transcendental meditation have shown that experienced practitioners are able to exert autonomous nervous control. 13 Beneficial effects of yoga on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine systems have been reported in a number of studies, [14][15][16] and yoga has also been shown to improve myocardial perfusion and help in the regression of coronary lesions. 17,18 This pilot study assesses the efficacy of shankh prakshalana as a bowel prep for colonoscopy. ...
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Electroencephalographic patterns were studied in 30 normal healthy individuals practicing meditation and compared with 10 normal healthy controls not practicing meditation. In this study, we found prominent alpha wave activity and increase it its voltage in meditators as compared to controls. Meditators had significantly more alpha rhythm as compared to control group. Percentage of alpha waves were higher in persons performing meditation with good coherence which suggested good homogenicity, uniformity and increased orderliness of brain.
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