Mind controls body in extreme experiments" and I thought it was really fascinating. Here's an excerpt:
Herbert Benson, of course, is the doctor who wrote the now classic book The Relaxation Response that I recommend for everybody. It teaches a secular and scientific approach to meditation.
In a monastery in northern India, thinly clad Tibetan monks sat quietly in a room where the temperature was a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a yoga technique known as g Tum-mo, they entered a state of deep meditation. Other monks soaked 3-by-6-foot sheets in cold water (49 degrees) and placed them over the meditators' shoulders. For untrained people, such frigid wrappings would produce uncontrolled shivering.
If body temperatures continue to drop under these conditions, death can result. But it was not long before steam began rising from the sheets. As a result of body heat produced by the monks during meditation, the sheets dried in about an hour.
Attendants removed the sheets, then covered the meditators with a second chilled, wet wrapping. Each monk was required to dry three sheets over a period of several hours.
Why would anyone do this? Herbert Benson, who has been studying g Tum-mo for 20 years, answers that "Buddhists feel the reality we live in is not the ultimate one. There's another reality we can tap into that's unaffected by our emotions, by our everyday world. Buddhists believe this state of mind can be achieved by doing good for others and by meditation. The heat they generate during the process is just a by-product of g Tum-mo meditation."
Perhaps none of us will get so advanced that we can melt snow but we probably can get to the state where we discover our hands getting warmer and we can definitely experience "the relaxation response" - a state that is the opposite of stress.