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Tummo (gTum mo in Wylie transliteration, also spelled Tumo, or Tum-mo; Sanskrit caṇḍālī) is a Tibetan term for an advanced type of contemplative practice, or meditation. The most common usage of the term is however related to the description of intense sensations of body heat, that are said to be a partial effect of the practice of Tummo-meditation.
Tummo is taught as one part of the six yogas of Naropa. Stories and eyewitness accounts abound of yogi practitioners being able to generate sufficient heat to dry wet sheets draped around their naked bodies while sitting outside in the freezing cold, not just once, but multiple times. These observations have also been discussed in medical articles (Ding-E Young and Taylor, 1998).
One of the most famous practitioners of Tummo was perhaps the Tibetan Buddhist saint, Milarepa . The biography of Milarepa is one of the most popular among the Tibetan people (Evans-Wentz, 2001). Modern western witnesses of this practice include the adventurer Alexandra David-Neel (David-Neel, 1971), and Lama Anagarika Govinda (Govinda, 1988).
While the practice could be said to have some practical benefit in the frigid climate of Tibet, it cannot be said to be cultivated merely for the sake of keeping warm, but is rather a side-effect of a religiously oriented intensive meditation practice, and is understood to be the outward manifestation of an inward state of religious ecstasy or Yogic Enlightenment. Similar experiences of a mystic fire have also been described among practitioners of other contemplative paths, such as the Sufi Irina Tweedie, and among practitioners of Kundalini Yoga.
An attempt to study the physiological effects of Tummo has been made by Benson and colleagues (Benson et.al, 1982; Cromie, 2002) who studied Indo-Tibetan Yogis in the Himalayas and in India in the 1980s. In the first experiment, in Upper Dharamsala (India), Benson et. al (1982) found that these subjects exhibited the capacity to increase the temperature of their fingers and toes by as much as 8.3°C. In the most recent experiment, which was conducted in Normandy (France), two monks from the Buddhist tradition wore sensors that recorded changes in heat production and metabolism (Cromie, 2002).
It is not considered wise to engage in the practice of Tummo, or any other intense form of meditation, without the supervision of a credible teacher or guide, or without thorough psychological and physiological preparation. Intense, or unsupervised forms of meditation, might sometimes lead to substantial meditation-related problems. See Lukoff, Lu & Turner (1998) for more details on these problems.
- Benson, Herbert; Lehmann, John W.; Malhotra, M. S., Goldman, Ralph F.; Hopkins, Jeffrey; Epstein, Mark D. (1982) Body temperature changes during the practice of g Tum-mo yoga. Letter to Nature Magazine, 21 January 1982. Nature 295, 234 - 236
- Cromie, William J. (2002) Research: Meditation changes temperatures: Mind controls body in extreme experiments. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Gazette, 18 April 2002
- David-Neel, Alexandra (1971) Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Dover Publications
- Ding-E Young, John and Taylor, Eugene (1998) Meditation as a Voluntary Hypometabolic State of Biological Estivation . News in Physiological Sciences, Vol. 13, No. 3, 149-153, June 1998
- Evans-Wentz, W. Y. Editor (2000) Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa: A Biography from the Tibetan being the Jetsün-Kabbum or Biographical History of Jetsün-Milarepa, According to the Late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English Rendering. USA:Oxford University Press
- Govinda, Lama Anagarika (1988) Way Of White Clouds. Shambhala Publications
- Lukoff, David; Lu Francis G. & Turner, Robert P. (1998) From Spiritual Emergency to Spiritual Problem: The Transpersonal Roots of the New DSM-IV Category. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 38(2), 21-50,
|Yogas:||Agni Yoga - Anahata Yoga - Anusara Yoga - Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga - Bikram Yoga - Hatha yoga - Integral yoga - Iyengar Yoga - Kriya yoga - Kundalini yoga - Natya Yoga - Sahaj Marg - Sahaja Yoga - Satyananda Yoga - Sivananda Yoga - Six yogas of Naropa (Tummo) - Surat Shabd Yoga - Viniyoga - Yoga in Daily Life - Yoga Nidra|
|Texts:||Bhagavad Gita - Yoga Sutras - Hatha Yoga Pradipika - Gheranda Samhita - Shiva Samhita|
|Hinduism paths:||Bhakti yoga - Karma Yoga - Jnana Yoga - Raja Yoga|
|Raja Yoga limbs:||Yama - Niyama - Asana - Pranayama - Pratyahara - Dharana - Dhyana - Samadhi|
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|Related topics:||Ayurveda - Chakra - Mantra - Tantra - Vedanta - Yoga (alternative medicine) - Yoga as exercise|
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