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Our minds have the capacity to heal and protect our bodies. This power intrigued me. After meeting Swami Rama, my intrigue became a passionate pursuit. This story is about the beginning of that pursuit.
In 1970, I was living on a commune outside of Lawrence, Kansas, sporadically attending classes, and editing Kansas University’s Jayhawker yearbook. The publication mirrored the new age chaos of the early ’70s. The finished product was a yearbox, rather than a book. As a form of protest, the dimensions of the yearbox were intentionally larger than the Chancellor’s bookshelves. But that’s a story for another time.
Through the commune, I met a constant flow of creative, passionate, and connected individuals. One of these connected individuals invited me to attend an evening soirée at the home of Dr. Elmer and Alyce Green, in Topeka.
Everyone’s life has unforgettable moments, and I will never forget this evening. I met Swami Rama. He was wearing a maroon-colored robe with an elegantly embroidered shawl. Swami appeared to be in his mid-forties and was tall, dark, and handsome. He sat lotus-style on a love seat while the dozen or so of us fortunate to receive an invitation, sat on the floor in a semi-circle around him.
It took me a few sentences to adjust to his heavily accented speech. Still, he spoke so profoundly about truth, love, immortality, knowledge, meditation and breathing that I quickly acquired an ear for his accent. His voice was soft and kind. I remember thinking that his sentences were pure and honest. His delivery was deliberate and without the pauses, stammering, or repetition that many Westerners insert into their speech. I was mesmerized.
The Greens shared with us some of the biofeedback, self-regulation, mind-body research Swami was doing at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka. I often mused that the citizens of Topeka, a conservative lot, would have burned-down the Menninger Foundation if they knew or understood the nature of the Foundation’s research.
One of their studies involved Swami, simultaneously increasing the temperature on the thumb side of his hand while decreasing the heat on the little finger side. After several trials, Swami was able to obtain an 11°F difference between the two sides of one hand. The little finger side of his hand registered 95°F.
Another and more dramatic experiment involved Swami stopping his heart for three minutes while remaining conscious. He also demonstrated how he could slow his heart rate to 20 bpm and then immediately increase it to 250 bpm.
Swami’s explanation for his mind-body control is essentially the same as that written by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra, some twenty-three centuries ago. Swami explained that we all have a ‘gross’ heart, which is the physical heart seen in surgery. The ‘subtle’ heart is a significant energy structure of which the physical heart is a dense section. This belief is consistent with the yogic concept of the ‘subtle’ body, of which the physical body represents only the sensory portion.
Since the mind controls the ‘subtle’ heart, Swami’s ability to control his ‘gross’ heart rate demonstrates the mind-body (subtle-gross) characteristics. Understanding these characteristics leads to a better understanding of the human aura, which is the visibility of the ‘subtle’ energy generated by the chakra.
The Greens shared their research about how the vascular ‘tree’ in tumors includes smooth muscles in blood vessel walls. They hypothesized that starving tumors by voluntarily restricting blood flow could help the body reabsorb the tissue.
This topic is relevant for me because I have two ‘precancerous’ pancreatic cysts. A CT scan discovered them over a year ago, and my internist and I monitor their size every six months. Since the discovery, I visualize daily during meditation an increased blood flow to my damaged kidneys and reduced circulation to these cysts. So far, the cysts have not disappeared, but their size remains unchanged.
Swami confirmed the Green’s hypothesis and told us how he could create a cyst that could be seen and felt through his skin and then disappear through meditation.
My Iowan mother often challenged me as I arrived home from school with, “what did you learn today?” Meeting Swami Rama that September night in 1970, taught me that the mechanics of our bodies can be controlled by the thoughts of our minds.
Through meditation our mind can control our body’s cells to help heal and protect us.