Dr. William Bushell’s Research Trip on Yogic Sciences in India at the Kumbha Mela festival
Both the Infinity Foundation and ECIT are interested in bringing to light the numerous Indic contributions to the civilizations of the world, many of which are not commonly recognized. In particular, we are particularly interested in projects which shed light and bring credibility to the often dismissed field of “Yogic Sciences”. We use the term “science” here because, contrary to popular belief, Indian traditions of contemplation, introspection and mediations are not universally “mystical” and “irrational”, but are often based upon empirical exploration of the psycho-physical complex, and their mediation techniques often have a very real and measurable effect on the mind and body. For this reason, we have made the decision to support the following research project, which will lay groundwork for a more thorough research in this field.
Brief Trip to India for the Kumbha Mela Festival:
Survey, Subject Recruitment, Interviewing, Observation, and Institutional Networking in Preparation for A Research Project on the Indic Science of Yoga – A Proposal
Fewer than two dozen clinical studies of advanced, long-term virtuoso yogis have been performed over the past 70 years, yet these few studies have shown that the yogic science of India possesses an extraordinary storehouse of scientific knowledge concerning the potential for enhanced functioning of the human body and brain. Although, incredibly, these studies have been practically ignored in the West — despite an apparently increasing if often undiscerning openness to the consideration of Asian medical thinking – a mere perusal of their results reveals revolutionary implications. For this small body of studies demonstrates – albeit in an initial, preliminary fashion – a full spectrum of powerful potential enhancements of health, and physiological and psychological functioning, including:
- voluntary, innate analgesia as or more powerful than that produced by opioid and other major pharmacologic analgesics;
- the ability to control bleeding and blood flow, an ability for which there is no Western biomedical analogue;
- dramatic enhancement of the immune system, including the ability to combat antibiotic-resistant and other multi-drug resistant organisms;
- the ability to control temperature and metabolism to such an extent that hibernation-like states are possible;
- enhancement of the innate regenerative and aging retarding capacities of the body, to make extension of the life span and “health span” possible;
- profound enhancement of fundamental cognitive capacities including learning, memory, creativity, and analytic thinking.
While this small body of studies, scattered across laboratories, continents, and decades, provides compelling preliminary support for these and other claims of Indian science and its derivatives (eg, Indo-Tibetan), further research, of both a clinical and scholarly type, is of course necessary to pursue a proper and adequate understanding of it. A comprehensive, large-scale, on-going, collaborative research program is necessary for such an endeavor.
One of the first steps in such a program is to survey the potential research environment, and begin networking to establish collaborative relationships. While an appreciable amount of preliminary work has already been done in these respects, the kumbha mela festival of India provides an unprecedented opportunity for such a goal. This is so because among the literally millions of attendees, thousands of long-term adept virtuoso yoga practitioners are attending. I have been invited by several of the latter category, masters who have demonstrated bona fide advanced yogic abilities, and who are major figures in an extended network of such practitioners. My invitation is specifically to meet, interview, establish on-going collaborative relationships with, and observe demonstrations of advanced yogic abilities by numerous long-term, master practitioners. In particular, I am scheduled to observe a demonstration of the extraordinary bhugarbha samadhi technique, in which the yogi is buried underground for a period of several days or more. This practice, which has been observed and confirmed by several Western scientifically trained researchers (including a member of my research team), has revolutionary implications for Western physiological and medical science, for it provides support for yogic claims that hibernation-like states of “suspended animation” are indeed possible. This invaluable opportunity will offer the chance for further observation and understanding of this immensely important phenomenon, and will precede a clinical study of it at the Autonomic Physiology Laboratory of Columbia-Cornell Medical Center under my direction in spring 2001. The yogis have also agreed to the plan for physiological/medical research on yoga in the US and India, locations to be discussed.