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Neurocognitive and Somatic Components of Temperature Increases during g-Tummo Meditation: Legend and Reality

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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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... Neurocognitive and psychosomatic mechanisms of altered states of consciousness (ASC) in several Eastern traditions, such as Reiki [1], Tai chi [2], Qigong [3], Johrei [4] and others have been studied in academic publications. For instance, the focused attention on the body (abdominal region near the navel) in yoga Tummo has been shown to increase core temperature up to 38.3 • C [5]. Authors demonstrated that a neurocognitive modeling in the form of meditative visualization in ASC is responsible for two effects: (a) increasing temperature far beyond the range of normal body temperature; (b) persistent, step-wise temperature increase long after the exercises finished. ...
... This experimental study replicates and extends the methodologies of previous works [5], [6], [13] with practitioners of the six yogas of Naropa [15], [16] and the Dhammakaya meditation [17]. Skin surface and core temperature are measured with IR camera (wavelength 8-14µm) and contact sensors. ...
... The obtained results confirm the persistent effects reported in [5], [6], [13]. In particular, increase of body temperature up to moderate fever zone 38.5 • C and intentional control of up and down trend of core temperature by 1.6 • C are demonstrated for >60 min. ...
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Long-term focused attention with visualization and breathing exercises is at the core of various Eastern traditions. Neurocognitive and psychosomatic phenomena demonstrated during such exercises were instrumentally explored with EEG and other sensors. Neurocognitive modeling in the form of meditative visualization produced persistent temperature effects in the body long after the exercise finished; this raises the question about their psychosomatic or biophysical origin. The work explores this question by comparing experiments with focusing attention inside and outside the body. EEG, temperature, heart and breathing sensors monitor internal body conditions, high resolution differential calorimetric sensors are used to detect thermal effects outside the body. Experiments with 159 attempts (2427 operator-sensor sessions) were carried over five months, control measurements run in the same conditions in parallel to experimental series. Increase of body temperature up to moderate fever zone 38.5 C and intentional control of up and down trend of core temperature by 1.6 C are demonstrated. Persistent temperature variations last >60 min. Experiments also demonstrated induced thermal fluctuations at 10^-3 C level in external calorimetric systems with 15 ml of water for 60-90 min. Repeatability of these attempts is over 90%, statistical Chi-square and Mann-Whitney tests reject the null hypotheses about random character of outcomes. Thus, the obtained data confirm the persistent thermal effects reported in previous publications and indicate their biophysical dimension. To explain these results we refer to a new model in neuroscience that involves spin phenomena in biochemical and physical systems. These experiments demonstrate complex biophysical mechanisms of altered states of consciousness; their function in the body's neurohumoral regulation and non-classical brain functions is discussed.
... Our first hypothesis was that Yidam and Tummo practices develop the state of PNS withdrawal, which serves as a neurophysiological precursor for Tantric Mahamudra. We expected Tummo to generate significantly higher arousal than Yidam, as it involves not only visualization but also vigorous breathing (Kozhevnikov et al., 2013). Our second hypothesis was that Tantric Mahamudra, being arousal-based meditation, is supported by a different type of alerting attention and corresponding attentional control than non-Tantric Mahamudra, associated with the state of PNS dominance and representing a mindfulness-related practice. ...
... Overall, Tummo experts had a lower Beta power during both meditative (M1, Yidam, and M2) and resting states compared to other practitioners. However, during Tummo practice, they exhibited significant Beta power increases, the most pronounced in the centro-parietal and occipital sites (Fig. 6C), consistent with previous studies on Tummo (Benson et al., 1990;Kozhevnikov et al., 2013). As Tummo practice, in addition to requiring active maintenance of cognitive set (e. g., visualizing attributes of a deity, flames), involves imagery of exact movements of "psychic energy" along the spine, based on the feeling of heat, Beta band activity may facilitate efficient processing of feedback (e.g., proprioceptive signals) and recalibrating the sensorimotor system (Baker, 2007), which could explain centro-parietal (Rolandic) Beta power increases during this practice. ...
... In addition, Tummo experts exhibited significant Gamma power decreases during M2 in the right frontal (F4 and F8) sites, and marginally significant posterior Gamma decreases. The only significant increases in Gamma power (particularly in centro-parietal sites) were observed during Tummo practice (Fig. 6D), consistent with previous research (Benson et al., 1990;Kozhevnikov et al., 2013). While there was no significant effect of Tummo Expertise or Meditation Experience on Gamma power, Tummo experts had a significantly lower Gamma power during both meditative and resting states than other practitioners. ...
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Here we report meditative techniques, which modulate attentional control by arousal-driven influences and not by monitoring continuous thought processes as during mindfulness-related practices. We focus on Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism) practices, during which a sequence of generation (self-visualization as a deity - Yidam) or completion with sign (inner heat -Tummo) stages necessarily precedes non-dual awareness (NDA) Tantric Mahamudra. We compared the electrocardiographic and electroencephalographic correlates of Mahamudra performed after rest (non-Tantric Mahamudra) with Mahamudra performed after Yidam (Tantric Mahamudra) in 16 highly experienced Vajrayana practitioners, 10 of whom also performed Tummo. Both Yidam and Tummo developed the state of PNS withdrawal (arousal) and phasic alertness, as reflected by HF HRV decreases and Alpha2 power increases, later neurophysiologically employed in Tantric Mahamudra. The latter led to the unique state of high cortical excitability, “non-selective” focused attention, and significantly reduced attentional control, quantified by power reductions in all frequency bands, except Theta. In contrast, similar to mindfulness-related practices, non-Tantric Mahamudra was performed in a state of PNS dominance (relaxation), tonic alertness, and active monitoring, as suggested by Alpha1 power increases and less pronounced decreases in other frequency bands. A neurobiological model of meditation is proposed, differentiating arousal-based and mindfulness-related practices.
... Such variable physical properties are important to understand dynamics of aqueous solutions in a variety of chemical and biological systems: water movement in a microcapillary system of biological organisms [7], persistent thermal effects in neurohumoral regulative system [8], [9]. Performing laboratory measurements with electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), we noted electrochemical and thermal anomalies in pure H 2 O. ...
... Fig. 3 compares several control and experimental measurements, we observe less variations between measurements in control attempts. Low variability of control attempts enables to rewrite (8) as ...
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This work describes experiments on thermal dynamics of pure H2O excited by hydrodynamic cavitation, which has been reported to facilitate the spin conversion of para- and ortho-isomers at water interfaces. Previous measurements by NMR and capillary methods of excited samples demonstrated changes of proton density by 12-15%, the surface tension up to 15.7%, which can be attributed to a non-equilibrium para-/ortho- ratio. Beside these changes, we also expect a variation of heat capacity. Experiments use a differential calorimetric approach with two devices: one with an active thermostat for diathermic measurements, another is fully passive for long-term measurements. Samples after excitation are degassed at -0.09MPa and thermally equalized in a water bath. Conducted attempts demonstrated changes in the heat capacity of experimental samples by 4.17%-5.72% measured in the transient dynamics within 60 min after excitation, which decreases to 2.08% in the steady-state dynamics 90-120 min after excitation. Additionally, we observed occurrence of thermal fluctuations at the level of 10^-3 C relative temperature on 20-40 min mesoscale dynamics and a long-term increase of such fluctuations in experimental samples. Obtained results are reproducible in both devices and are supported by previously published outcomes on four-photon scattering spectra in the range from -1.5 to 1.5 cm^-1 and electrochemical reactivity in CO2 and H2O2 pathways. Based on these results, we propose a hypothesis about ongoing spin conversion process on mesoscopic scales under weak influx of energy caused by thermal, EM or geomagnetic factors; this enables explaining electrochemical and thermal anomalies observed in long-term measurements.
... 48,49 Studies exploring the relationship of practicing yoga to body temperature have reported a significant increase in surface body temperature, which disagrees with the results of our study. [50][51][52] Some studies have demonstrated decreased salivary cortisol levels in subjects performing short-term pranayama and meditation, which contradicts the results of the present study. 53,54 However, our study reported decreased salivary cortisol levels from baseline to postsurgery in the intervention group; although the results were nonsignificant, this could be suggested as a potential positive effect of yoga practice on salivary cortisol levels. ...
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Scientific evidence on the benefits of yoga among patients undergoing dental implant surgery is sparse. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of performing yoga on the vital signs and salivary cortisol in patients undergoing dental implant surgery. This study was conducted in an outpatient prosthodontics clinic during June-July 2019 as a pilot outcome assessor-blinded randomized trial with parallel design. A total of 20 patients requiring dental implant surgery were divided into two groups, with 10 patients in each group. Control group patients underwent implant surgery without yoga. In the intervention group, patients were trained to perform yoga, which included breathing exercises and meditation practiced for 10 minutes, and then underwent implant surgery. Vital signs (systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature) and salivary cortisol were recorded before (baseline) and after (post-surgery) implant surgery in both groups. There was no significant difference in the baseline values between the control and intervention groups. Mean vital sign and salivary cortisol values significantly increased from baseline to post-surgery in the control group. All vital signs except salivary cortisol significantly decreased from baseline to postsurgery in the yoga intervention group. Heart rate and temperature showed significant decreases in postsurgery values between the control and intervention groups. There was no significant correlation between vital signs and salivary cortisol at baseline and postsurgery between the control and intervention groups. This study provides preliminary evidence for the beneficial effects of yoga in reducing anxiety and stress in those undergoing dental implant surgery.
... 48,49 Studies exploring the relationship of practicing yoga to body temperature have reported a significant increase in surface body temperature, which disagrees with the results of our study. [50][51][52] Some studies have demonstrated decreased salivary cortisol levels in subjects performing short-term pranayama and meditation, which contradicts the results of the present study. 53,54 However, our study reported decreased salivary cortisol levels from baseline to postsurgery in the intervention group; although the results were nonsignificant, this could be suggested as a potential positive effect of yoga practice on salivary cortisol levels. ...
Article
Full-text available
Scientific evidence on the benefits of yoga among patients undergoing dental implant surgery is sparse. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of performing yoga on the vital signs and salivary cortisol in patients undergoing dental implant surgery. This study was conducted in an outpatient prosthodontics clinic during June-July 2019 as a pilot outcome assessor-blinded ran-domized trial with parallel design. A total of 20 patients requiring dental implant surgery were divided into two groups, with 10 patients in each group. Control group patients underwent implant surgery without yoga. In the intervention group, patients were trained to perform yoga, which included breathing exercises and meditation practiced for 10 minutes, and then underwent implant surgery. Vital signs (systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature) and salivary cortisol were recorded before (baseline) and after (post-surgery) implant surgery in both groups. There was no significant difference in the baseline values between the control and intervention groups. Mean vital sign and salivary cortisol values significantly increased from baseline to post-surgery in the control group. All vital signs except salivary cortisol significantly decreased from baseline to postsurgery in the yoga intervention group. Heart rate and temperature showed significant decreases in postsurgery values between the control and intervention groups. There was no significant correlation between vital signs and salivary cortisol at baseline and postsurgery between the control and intervention groups. This study provides preliminary evidence for the beneficial effects of yoga in reducing anxiety and stress in those undergoing dental implant surgery. Mohan et al.
... It was conducted in Normandy, France, using two monks from the Buddhist tradition who wore sensors that recorded changes in heat production and metabolism. In a 2013 study, Dr. Maria Kozhevnikov and colleagues showed increases in core body temperature in both expert meditators from eastern Tibet and Western non-meditators as a control group (Kozhevnikov, Elliott, Shephard, & Gramann, 2013). Various research studies have established that meditation has many important physiological benefits. ...
... The concept of "tantra" is many-faceted (Feuersten 1998;Yeshe 1996), and we cannot possibly try to define it exhaustively here. Rather, we will focus on two practices that are commonly accepted to be a part of Tibetan Buddhism, namely the practices of tummo and karmamudra, both of which are connected to the tantric tradition (Kozhevnikov et al. 2013;Mullin 2005;Yeshe 1998). Tummo and karmamudra are parts of the so-called six yogas, a set of practices that can be led back to the the Buddhist monk Tilopa (Mullin 2006, p. 7), which are commonly referred to as the Six Yogas of Naropa (Naropa being Tilopa's chief disciple). ...
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