Tum-mo - Body Heat Research

Bonpo esoteric traditions include the practice of psychically-generated body heat, known as tum-mo. Scientific and religious world views do not always coexist easily, but in conformity with Loel Guinness’ conviction that the two paradigms are not incompatible—a view shared by the spiritual leaders of the Bon tradition—a small group of monks, practitioners of tum-mo, worked with the Harvard-based Mind-Body Institute to explore the physiological transformations that take place during this yogic process. The quantifiable transformations observed were sufficiently remarkable that a further, more intensive, study, using recently-developed technology, is currently being planned.

In the Bön religion, the practice of medicine is considered to be inseparable from the spiritual path. Of particular interest to western medical researchers is the way in which some adepts are apparently able to control their body temperature through a meditational practice known as tum-mo (Tibetan: gtum mo – ‘inner fire’). Although still practised in Tibet, it has become endangered due to the political situation between Tibet and China.

The synergetic approach to science and religion that proved so successful in the first phase of the project will be further developed along a number of avenues. Investigations relating to tum-mo will be carried out for a further period of two years, using technologies that had not been developed at the time of the original tests. The physiological results of the investigations will be published along with translations of the Tibetan text on which the yogic practice is based.