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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Tummo (i.e., “inner fire” or “psychic heat”) is a Tibetan yoga practice that involves various body exercises. These include the control of the breath and intense concentration on or visualization of various metaphysical goals (inner peace). Tummo, however, has become best known for a very practical goal practiced in frigid Tibet. It is used to generate enough body heat to survive overnight in the mountains without the benefit of any outside sources of warmth.

This practice was initially made known in the West through the writings of a French woman, Alexandra David-Neel (1868–1969), who explored India and Tibet in 1911 as her way of escaping an unbearable marriage. Gaining some acceptance in a land that was unusually hostile to outsiders, she was able to master many of the Tibetan meditative practices, including tummo. She not only claimed to be able to raise her body temperature, but in her book Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1931) she explained the method to her readers.

In the last half of the twentieth century, various Western groups, mostly of an esoteric nature, also drew on Tibetan traditions and incorporated tummo into their course of study. More recently, as Tibetan teachers have spread throughout the West, they have begun to offer training in the meditation practices associated with tummo. Their practice includes yoga asanas (postures), visualization, the use of mantras (words that are intoned in a manner as to resonate with the body), and breathing techniques. Such techniques have generally been taught in a retreat setting so they can be practiced a number of times in the presence of an experienced teacher.


David-Neel, Alexandria. Magic and Mystery in Tibet. London: John Lane, 1931.
Ray, Reginald A. Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet. Boston: Shambhala, 2001.
Yeshe, Thubten, et al. The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 1998.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The road south from Murzuq runs through the oasis town of Qatrun, where it splits to run 310 kilometers southwest to the border post with Niger at Tummo, and southeast toward Chad.
Remote and unsupervised, the narrow mountain pass is used by well-armed traffickers and rebels to avoid the official crossing at Tummo. (23) Most notable of these is al-Murabitun leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is believed to have used the Pass to flee from French-led forces in early 2013.
South of the Plateau du Mangueni is the Tummo Pass, the official but rarely attended border post between Niger and southwest Libya.
Meditative focus, in such priming, can center on a physiological process such as breathing, on a bodily space such as an energy plexus, on internal sensations such as heat and light (Tummo meditation), on a movement sequence as in tai chi and qi gong, on the vibrations of a mantra, or on the illumination of a global feeling state, such as joy, peace, love, and compassion.
Tummo meditation versus autogenic training: visceral nervous system regulation, East and West, and implications for integrative psychotherapy [online article].
Practising an ancient Himalayan meditation called Tummo - or Inner Fire - he says he is able to generate heat in any part of his body.
Alfonso Caycedo, the Columbian neuropsychologist who developed this relaxation method in the 1960s, and how sophrology incorporates elements of Rajah Yoga from India, Tummo Buddhist meditation, Japanese Zen and Schultz's autogenous training.
The Tantras of the Kagyu lineage are Chakrasamvara, Mahamaya, Hevajra etc., and especially Vajra Varahi as related to the Chandali Yoga (Tibetan Tummo [gTum-Mo]).
Tummo (inner fire) meditation is an ancient technique of personal enlightenment centered on the creation of bodily warmth.
The dissolution of stress, in all its myriad physical and psychological manifestations, is the primordial indication for the practice of autogenic training and Tummo Meditation.
Tummo meditation derives its name from the nature of its meditative focus.