Three Case Reports of the Metabolic and Electroencephalographic Changes during Advanced Buddhist Meditation Techniques

Herbert Benson, M.D., M. S. Malhotra, M.D., Ralph F. Goldman, Ph.D., Gregg D. Jacobs, Ph.D., P. Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D.
Behavioral Medicine
Volume 16, Issue 2

To examine the extent to which advanced meditative practices might alter body metabolism and the electroencephalogram (EEG), we investigated three Tibetan Buddhist monks living in the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, India. In a study carried out in February 1988, we found that during the practice of several different meditative practices, resting metabolism ([Vdot]O2) could be both raised (up to 61%) and lowered (down to 64%). The reduction from rest is the largest ever reported. On the EEG, marked asymmetry in alpha and beta activity between the hemispheres and increased beta activity were present. From these three case reports, we conclude that advanced meditative practices may yield different alterations in metabolism (there are also forms of meditation that increase metabolism) and that the decreases in metabolism can be striking.

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