Tibetan monks use meditation to control their skin temperature. While their core temperature remains the same, their skin temperature raises to about 17 F degrees.
Dalai Lama visited the Harvard University in 1979. He allowed the scientists to study the monks and persuaded his monks to agree. In the 1980s, the Harvard scientists visited the monks in the remote Himalayan Mountains monasteries several times.
Besides learning that the monks can raise their skin temperature, they also found monks who can lower their metabolism by more than 50%. These monks lived in Sikkim, India. This is extraordinary as the metabolism of an average human lowers by approximately 15% during sleep.
During their visit, the scientists also analyzed the monks spending a night in the mountains, on an altitude of 15,000 feet, wearing only simple wool robes. They slept separately, on the cold rocks. During the night, the temperature was 0 F degrees. The monks slept comfortably, although their clothes without insulation and the cold rock could have killed them. In the morning, they went back to their monastery calmly, while the scientists and the rest of the crew were shivering from the cold. Everything was recorded on camera.
Even though the change of skin temperature cannot be exactly explained, magnetic resonance scans of the monks’ brains showed change in the blood flow to the brain during the monks’ meditation. Some parts of the monks’ brain became more active during the meditation, especially the parts that control autonomic functions and attention, such as metabolism and blood pressure levels.
This discovery can be extremely useful for astronauts at NASA, who travel to Mars. If the astronauts learn to lower their metabolism rates and raise their skin temperature, less energy and oxygen will be needed for the missions.