When you think of superhuman abilities, Tibetan monks are sure to come to your mind as one of the rare people in this world who have learned to unlock their hidden potentials.
Indeed – these monks are fascinating in many ways, and they possess a deep wisdom about existence and life that surpasses many teachings. They are mostly renowned for their meditative techniques that put many people in awe.
In fact, even Harvard scientists have been puzzled by what these monks can achieve through meditation – things that are established to be impossible for a human to achieve. It seems like they have learned how to control every aspect of their being and thus become superhuman.
This is what Professor Herbert Benson from the Harvard School of Medicine discovered on his journey to the Himalayas in the 80s. His experience with the monks in the remote monasteries is one that still puzzles Harvard scientists.
Benson reported to have observed Tibetan monks meditating in conditions that were impossible to endure – the monks would sit and meditate on a rocky ledge at a height of 15,000 feet and at temperatures that dropped to zero degrees Fahrenheit, wearing almost no clothing to keep them warm.
The meditation technique they used is called g Tum-mo and with it, they are able to raise their body temperature considerably high – being able to even dry cold wet sheets on their backs in freezing temperatures.
“You and I would go into uncontrollable shivering and perhaps even die of too low blood pressure,” explains Benson. “They were quite comfortable there simply by performing their Tum-mo meditational heat yoga.”
Benson wanted to find out what exactly happened in the brains of these monks during this fascinating meditation, so he brought a few in Boston for research. They were astonished to find that during their advanced meditational techniques, the meditators were able to decrease their oxygen consumption by 64%.
To put this into perspective, the oxygen consumption of a regular person drops by 10-15% while asleep, and by around 17% while doing simple meditation. “This was the largest decrease in oxygen consumption that was ever recorded in experiments by a simple restful procedure,” explains Benson.
Which is more, during their meditative state, Benson and his team recorded “a marked decrease in blood flow to the entire brain,” while the brain’s control attention and autonomic functions (like blood pressure and metabolism) became more active.
And Benson explains that they didn’t manage to replicate the same conditions as in which the monks usually meditate, such as the room temperature, and the circumstances under which these monks were put through during their meditative process.
However, even in such conditions, the results of the experiments were astounding for the scientific community, and there is still little explanation as to how these monks are able to literally control their body in a way that is considered impossible for humans to do.
These monks, after all, are just as human as any of us. Does that mean that we all have such potentials that we are unaware of?
Benson did manage to get something out of his experience with the Tibetan monks – he developed a technique he calls the “relaxation response.” He describes this technique as the “physiological state opposite of stress,” and it serves to decrease the metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.
He and his colleagues at the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston use this technique to treat stress-related illnesses, such as anxiety, mild and moderate depression, excessive anger, insomnia, high blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, and even infertility.
The relaxation response involves the repetition of a sound, word, phrase, or short prayer while letting go of any intrusive thoughts. “If such an easy-to-master practice can bring about the remarkable changes we observe,” Benson notes. “I want to investigate what advanced forms of meditation can do to help the mind control physical processes once thought to be uncontrollable.”
Many tend to view meditation as something distant, unachievable, or too foreign. However, take the tag “meditation” away and you will see that this experience is very natural and calming.
Whatever truth lies in meditation, it’s the same truth that has made Tibetan monks seem super-human to all of us. And while you don’t have to strive to become superhuman, you can at least invest a few minutes of the day to achieve a healthier state through simple meditation.
Source: Harvard Gazette
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