Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meditation increases body temperature.

The following information from Harvard Gazette Archives makes interesting reading. It tells about the power of meditation in keeping oneself warm in cold conditions. This explains why most sages of yore had their ashrams in the Himalayas. Meditation increases the body temperature and that perhaps necessitated them to do meditation in the midst of snow. After reading this article one need not doubt the veracity of the information that Veda Vyas meditated in the small cave in the Rohtang pass.

The information we find in the Ithihasas on the location of astras also seems to have the same logic. The astras are always got back from Varuna bhagavan! Varuna is the Lord of Oceans.The Shiva dhanus that Rama broke was got by King Janaka from a previous  king Devaratha in a Maha yajna. Devaratha did not hand it over to him. It was in the custody of Varuna and Varuna handed it over to King Janaka in the yajna. Similarly there are references to Varuna in other places for either depositing the astras with Varuna or retrieving the astras from Varuna (Gandeeva of Arjuna and astras of Rama given  by Janaka were kept in the custody of Varuna). If the astras were supposed to release some heat, then it is logical that they were deposited with Varuna.

Astras were different from sastras in that the astras were shot with some mantras or some innate power of the person who shoots it. The shooter learns it by some process of meditation or Thought flow. The Brahmastra and Pasupadastra were some well known astras which were shot with mantras by valiant persons who learnt them through some training. These astras were not always at the custody of the persons who shot them. After using them they were handed over to Varuna. Such kind of descriptions show that some powerful weapons that can be activated by meditation and mantra exuded tremendous heat that they can be safeguarded only in water! Perhaps the oceans and other water bodies housed them in times of non-use.



Today I found out that some Tibetan monks can control the temperature of their skin through meditation. Specifically, they have been shown to be able to raise their skin temperature, measured from their toes and fingers, as much as 17 degrees Fahrenheit, while their core temperature stays normal.
Scientists from Harvard University, lead by Herbert Benson, were first able to study these monks thanks to the Dalai Lama, who visited Harvard in 1979, and agreed to help them contact and convince the monks to allow them to be studied.
What followed was a series of visits to remote monasteries in the Himalayan Mountains throughout the 1980s.
Not only did they discover the monks could raise their surface temperature while keeping their core temperature normal, but they also found a group in Sikkim, India that could lower their metabolism by 64 percent. For perspective on how remarkable this is, when you sleep your metabolism drops only 10-15 percent.
The scientists also got a chance to document the monks spending a night out on a rocky ledge in the Himalayas. The monks were dressed in their simple wool robes with no extra insulation and slept on the cold rocks separated from one another.
The altitude was 15,000 feet and the temperatures reached zero degrees Fahrenheit as they slept, apparently comfortably, through the night. With as little insulation as they were wearing and laying on the cold rock separated from one another, this should have killed the monks. But they were all fine and the cameras didn't even catch them shivering at any point. When they woke, they walked calmly back to their monastery, not seeming to notice the cold at all, unlike the scientists and camera crew who were all bundled up and freezing by morning.
It is not yet known how the monks manage to generate the heat, but magnetic resonance imaging scans of the monks brains while they meditate have shown "marked differences in blood flow to the entire brain", Benson explains. "At the same time, certain areas of the brain became more active, specifically those that control attention and autonomic functions like blood pressure and metabolism."
The ability to sustain themselves in extreme low temperature and low oxygen environments by raising their skin temperature and lowering their metabolism drastically, would be particularly useful for NASA in missions such as traveling to Mars. If their astronauts could do this, it would drastically decrease the amount of oxygen and energy needed in such a voyage. *queue Space Monks*


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