can slow heart rate fact or fiction?

Discussion in 'Chinese Martial Arts - General' started by wushuguy, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. wushuguy

    wushuguy Purple Belt

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    I had heard that some kung fu practitioners can slow down their heart rate with meditation. Is this true? I know of a magic trick that can fool one feeling your pulse, but is it really possible to willfully slow down our heart rate? And what meditation is done to do so?
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    People can gain control over areas of their physiology in surprising ways.

    This kind of thing can be done. It can also be very dangerous.

    Most people cannot do it. Most people should not try to do it. But yes, it can be done, and it can be done safely with the proper training, which is very very very very very very very very difficult to come by.
     
  3. clfsean

    clfsean Senior Master

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    It's actually surprisingly easy for a short time... 10 to 20 seconds... then it gets difficult. But yes it is very difficult to learn properly & perform properly. Do not attempt it without proper training from somebody who knows what to do.

    As I say that, here's a funny story. Best I ever did was when I got my wisdom teeth cut out. They put me on the gas & heart monitor to prep me. I thought I'd try it /hey I was stoned courtesy of them/ & went from 68 bpm to 55 bpm in the blink of an eye but couldn't hold it for more than a couple of seconds. The funny part was when the machine beeped because of the sudden drop in rythym. The surgical assistant in the room went white & I chuckled. Then everything went back to normal & even up a little bit from the activity of me chuckling & squirming around in the chair.
     
  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    heh, good story.

    I think another thing to keep in mind is, what does one wish to accomplish with this skill? Is there a real reason to do it, and does it outweigh the potential risks involved, assuming proper instruction and training is available?

    The deep breathhold divers who compete for the world record of how deep they can dive on one breath of air can do this kind of thing. But this enables them to hold their breath for several minutes, which is necessary to do the dives that they do. They can slow their metabolism and heartrate to conserve energy and make these dives possible. But some of these people do get injured and do die in the process, especially with the added risk of being deep (or even shallow) under water when something goes wrong. Drowning can happen quickly, if you blackout under water and no one is in a position to get you to the surface, it's all over.

    So to the OP, what is the nature of your interest in this topic?
     
  5. wushuguy

    wushuguy Purple Belt

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    Hey, that was interesting to know. Since people can do it, what is it actually used for? Any benefit for health or only risks? Was just curious, because I've only heard some stories bout it, seems mostly comes from Chinese styles, haven't heard of Filipino or other styles doing such. I suppose unless anting anting is more than superstition...
     
  6. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Outside of Kung Fu, slowing one's heart rate, at least temporarily (through breathing, relaxation, and cardio fitness training) is an essential marksmanship skill.

    Whether using a firearm, bow and arrow, crossbow (etc), when sighting a target, the target is going to bounce around with every heart beat. Slowing one's heart rate offers a better chance at launching an accurate shot.

    A more pronounced example of the use of this skill is the Winter Olympic sport of the biathlon, which is a cross country ski race interspersed with rifle marksmanship. This requires a pronounced degree of cardio fitness as the athlete will have their heart rate up for the cross country ski race, then must forcibly slow it to fire accurately on the rifle range, then after shooting must immediately resume the cross country ski race, rinse and repeat.
     
  7. Ninjamom

    Ninjamom 2nd Black Belt

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    Slowing your breath and pulse rate is actually very easy to do. Sit very still, and control your breathing, concentrating on breathing in from your lower abdomen at a slow, steady rate, and exhaling at the same slow, steady rate. The deliberate slow breathing stimulates something called the parasympathetic nervous system - your heart rate will slow, your blood pressure will lower, your pupils will dilate, and your blood-levels of stress hormones will fall. As an added benefit, deep breathing improves the efficiency of the CO2/O2 exchange in your lungs, so your bloodstream's levels of CO2 (and your blood acidity level) also fall.

    The parasympathetic nervous system is the balance to your body's sympathetic nervous system - the system responsible for the natural 'fight or flight' response. When the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, your breathing naturally becomes rapid and shallow, your pulse quickens, your blood pressure increases, your pupils constrict, and your body dumps a cocktail of corticosteroid and opioid-like substances into your blood stream. Your body is primed to fight for its survival.

    Either state, for too long, can be unhealthy. For most Westerners, however, we live in a constant state of stress, with the sympathetic nervous system artifically (and dangerously) amped into overdrive. Simple slow, deep breathing can help reduce this.

    For those of us who live in a cubicle, stress relief can be as simple as taking a break for deep, slow breathing, stopping for a moment of personal prayer or reflection, or getting up and walking to the window and looking outside.
     
  8. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    can slow heart rate fact or fiction?
    Already been answered but yes
    So can Qigong
    So could a friend of mine that was a pro-soccer player. But he would do it just to mess with his MD.
     
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    Yes, but it's more than mere hyperventilation. I was a PADI scuba instructor for a while, so I am definitely familiar with this type of thing. Hyperventilation can enable you to hold your breath for a bit longer, and stay down a bit longer, but it also can create problems when you surface, if you overdo it.

    The really accomplished deep breathhold divers can actually decrease their heartrate to something like just a couple or a few beats per minute. They can almost go into a state of walking hibernation or something. This isn't simple hyperventilation.
     
  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    But how much can one slow the heartrate in this way? Sure, thru relaxation and deep breathing, one's heartrate will naturally slow down. But it still stays within certain limits that are set by the level of ones cardiopulmonary health and fitness levels.

    But some people, like the deep breathhold divers, can drastically lower their heartrate to a rate of just a couple of beats, or a few beats per minute, and keep it down for a fairly long duration, and this is a level of control that I don't believe can be accomplished thru what you describe.

    Another interesting phenomenon that I saw on some Discovery channel or something, was a group of I believe they were Tibetan Monks living high in the mountains, who could artificially elevate their body temperature. They would go out as a group into the mountainside and the snow, with significantly subfreezing temperatures, and spend the night with no shelter, only thin robes, and no fire. This was filmed, and they sat around in a group and had no problem with the weather. The snow that they sat on would actually begin to melt around them, and they sat out there for the whole night. Interesting stuff.
     
  12. MA-Caver

    MA-Caver Sr. Grandmaster

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    When I was bitten by a rattlesnake some years ago I recall my heart bounding/pounding in my chest. Knowing that it would only speed the poison in my system I calmed myself down and concentrated on slowing my heart rate til it was back down to normal levels.
    I then kept the concentration as I hiked back down the canyon with my friend to his car.
    The intake nurse at the E.R. was surprised at how slow my heart was but how alert I was. She asked me "are you doing this?" "doing what?" I asked, "keeping your heart rate below 85 bpm?" I nodded and shrugged. Then relaxed my concentration and my heart rate went up to 100. The nurse said don't stop what you're doing... and shook her head. I was administered the first of 16 anti-venom injections into the IV they had hooked into me.

    It is possible to do so if you concentrate on it and relax and understand what's going on and how.
     
  13. CuongNhuka

    CuongNhuka Senior Master

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    Supposedly Lance Armstrong (in day to day activity) has a lower heart rate then everyone else. Apparently, his heart is much larger then a normal persons, so he can pump more blood, with fewer pulses.

    Outside of endurance sports (like long distance biking), I cann't see how that would be a useful ablity though.
     
  14. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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  15. Formosa Neijia

    Formosa Neijia Green Belt

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    It's not difficult to do -- you have to control the breathing and gently slow it down. This is something I teach as part of the meditation curriculum in my school.

    The real problem is getting people to stick with it. You see, breathing is something we do every day. You have habits when it comes to breathing but you don't even know it. You have to become AWARE of those habits and people aren't used to that. Then they have to break those habits and form new ones, which takes time and again, awareness.

    But people want enlightenment in a pill. Just getting people to slow down enough to pay attention to breath is difficult. Getting them to concentrate on slowing and softening the breath is next to impossible. People find it too boring.

    Thing is, this is the most powerful thing in your life you can do. Why? You breath all day, every day. You never stop doing it. When you change that breathing from an unconscious process to a conscious one, you transform every moment into an opportunity to train.

    Think of how power that can be.
     
  16. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I read years ago that Harry Houdini could do it, and used it to make his underwater escapes more thrilling for the crowd. No idea if it was true or not. Supposedly, Indian Fakirs could do that, among other things. However, having finally seen Yogic 'flying' (most hopping on their butts), I am perhaps a tad skeptical.
     
  17. ChingChuan

    ChingChuan Blue Belt

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    A few months ago, I found a very interesting article on the subject. It basically says that it isn't really strange that some people can alter their physiological state because most animals can do it as well. So it is not necessarily supernatural (or 'religious') but rather a latent ability that everyone has.

    Also, the fact that people can alter their heartbeats is used in biofeedback (the medical kind) for people with heartrates that are too fast.
     
  18. Ninjamom

    Ninjamom 2nd Black Belt

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    I have a family member with hypertension who must regularly monitor blood pressure and adjust medication accordingly. With three minutes of explanation I was able to show how to reduce the resting heart rate and blood pressure, so that when they were measured, both showed a marked decrease.

    Not mystical, not latent, but a very active, real part of human physiology.
     
  19. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    My mother was the same, the doctor showed her how to relax and lower her blood pressure. She still needed medication as she had angina as well but if she was worried or stressed her blood pressure would go up. It would go down fairly quickly as well as her calming down. Sadly though she had a third heart attack that she didn't recover from nine years ago. However it was a simple technique she was shown, she wasn't a martial artist or mystic just an intelligent old lady so I guess there's no magic in being able to do it.
     
  20. Formosa Neijia

    Formosa Neijia Green Belt

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    Agreed. It's in fact extremely easy to do once people clam down and start feeling what's going on.

    But heh, since everyone thinks it mystical, I think i'll double the price of my class. :mst:
     

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