Some science behind the scenes

Heat and cold

Feeling hot

Many drugs cause excessive internal heat production, even in normal temperature environments, particularly those that affect the sympathetic nervous system and it can be a side effect of anaesthetics. But there are also a number of ‘meditation’ techniques associated with breathing exercises that change the metabolic rate – increased breathing rates particularly have this effect. Very rapid breathing at rest causes considerable increases in temperature.

For some reason this heat has been regarded in the past as ‘a good thing’ and it has been called ‘the heat of the mystic’.  A number of Christian saints of whom the best known are St Philip Neri and St Catherine of Sienna experienced it continuously. In the East, techniques have been developed whereby the accession of heat resulting from intense concentration can be regulated, controlled and put to useful work, such as “keeping the contemplative warm in freezing weather”.

But it is not a good thing to experience this heat. Whether symbolic or real, it represents too much activation of the sympathetic nervous system and too much output from us.  Thus it is not a sign of spiritual experience but a sign of too much thinking – perceptions are being produced at a prodigious rate.  See Energy recycling and Masculine feminine,  yin and yang for more details.

If you are always thinking and producing perceptions there is no chance you will get input from the spiritual world.  So the reality is that there is no such thing as the ‘heat of the mystic’ rather it should be the heat of the intellectual – the last thing you want. What we should be aiming for is the ‘cold of the mystic’. 

There can also be another cause of excess heat which is a sign of illness and misuse or overuse of techniques.
 
The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands. It is found in the neck, below the thyroid cartilage – the  'Adam's Apple' if you are a man. It produces hormones that enter the blood stream and regulate the rate of metabolism. Hormonal output from the thyroid is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the anterior pituitary, which itself is regulated by thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) produced by the hypothalamus. 

So, if you regularly use practices which alter the functioning of the hypothalamus, you may get a knock on effect from the thyroid gland.

The most common effect is an overactive thyroid gland, referred to as hyperthyroidism.  Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. It presents with symptoms such as a thyroid goiter, protruding eyes, palpitations, excess sweating, diarrhoea, weight loss, muscle weakness and unusual sensitivity to heat. 

Feeling very cold

People can also experience sudden intense cold when having visions and out of body experiences.  The coldness is quite different from any sort of normally experienced cold as it seems to come from within, a deep penetrating inner cold, that can affect the body or the limbs, particularly the hands and feet.  Occasionally the feet and hands can go almost numb.

It has the feeling of coming from the head down, like a cooling stream or a gentle trickle and it can sometimes go down the neck and the spine and it is quite an extraordinary sensation, very pleasant.  Alternatively it seems to rise up your legs like a flood coming up.

And this is what should be aimed for as symbolically and physically, it is a sign of spiritual input.

The oddest part of the sensation is that you can be ‘seeing’ [in a visionary sense] air and light, but be experiencing only cold. After coming out of the trance, the energy change can be so great, you may shake uncontrollably.

As one who has experienced this cold, I can tell you it is unlike any exterior physical sensation of coldness you will ever experience and feels inside you like a cold that has gone right to your core.

It can be partially explained by the fact that during moments of extreme calm, our parasympathetic nervous system – PNS - is in control.  As your heart rate drops from the deep relaxation that you are feeling, your metabolism produces no heat and it induces in you a sort of hibernation state, one of whose side effects is inner cold.  You can get this from, for example, hypnosis, acupuncture, and some forms of meditation where the breathing rate is deliberately slowed.  It is rare to experience it with drugs, but it is not unknown. But this is only a partial physical explanation, the functional explanation also holds good.

Yet again,  if you regularly use practices which alter the functioning of the hypothalamus, you may get a knock on effect from the thyroid gland.  In this case the person will be suffering from Hypothyroidism  - an underproduction of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Typical symptoms are abnormal weight gain, tiredness, baldness, cold intolerance, and bradycardia.

Observations

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