A festival has just begun in New York City exploring how art, music, and meditation affect the brain.  The event, called BRAINWAVE, is an interesting fusion of sacred and modern study as seen through the eyes of scientists, artists, musicians, and practitioners.  

The event was kicked off by Iceman, 48 year old Dutch man Wim Hof, who stood immersed in a clear container filled with ice for one hour and twelve minutes breaking his previous world record of 78 minutes from 2004.  Hof uses the Tibetan Tantric practice of Tummo to control his body temperature.  This has been practiced by Yogi Monks in Tibet, but Hof is the only non-Tibetan to achieve this state. 

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The practice of Tummo is one of the six yogas of Naropa, a set of advanced Tibetan Buddhist Tantric practices that guide the aspirant to hasten the attainment of siddhi (spiritual powers) and enlightenment.   Also known as “Mystic Fire,” Tummo is described as the intense sensation of body heat.  A scientific analysis of this practice conducted in 1982 in the Himalayas and India, revealed that the subjects exhibited the capacity to increase the temperature of their fingers and toes by as much as 8.3˚ C/46.94̊ F (Benson et al., 1982; Cromie, 2002).

It is so easy to dismiss the bizarre and sometimes phantasmagorical experiences expressed in ancient texts as mythological or symbolic, but here we have an actual person accomplishing these feats right before our eyes, literally.  If it doesn’t sound like such a big deal, then grab an ice cube from the freezer and hold it tightly in your hand.  See just how long it takes before agony sets in.  Now imagine your bare skin from toes to chin packed into a cylinder full of those same ice cubes for over an hour. Talk about torture. 

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This festival is about asking questions, teaching science and showing proof that maybe there is more to the miracle of our brains than we often allow ourselves to conceive.  For five months, there will be a diverse number of explorations into the complex workings of the brain from discussions to performances.  The Tummo practice is just the tip of the iceberg.  The featured presenters range from musician Lou Reed to visionary artist Alex Grey, and cover topics from the gross to the etheric. 

If you are planning to attend this festival, we would love to hear about it! 

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