Use the Relaxation Response for Your Personal Reset Refreshing Your Body Refreshing Your Mind Increased Intelligence Lowering Blood Pressure Lessening Anxiety Fewer Headaches Lessening Nausea Lessening Depression Fewer Phobias Less Pain Better Sleep Improved Menopause Greater Fertility Less Heart Pain Improving Arthritis Improving Genetics More Regular Heartbeats Fewer Nervous Habits Better Health!
What is the Relaxation Response?
The Relaxation Response is a natural response of relaxation in our body and mind to an appropriate relaxation agent. The relaxation agent can be a word, a phrase, your breath, or another appropriate agent. This relaxation agent is then focused on in a repeated manner and with a relaxed attitude. The Relaxation Response is naturally built into our bodies and can sometimes feel very deep and profound. Repeatedly bringing about the Relaxation Response only takes a few simple steps and can bring about many scientifically validated long term health benefits.
The easiest way to start the Relaxation Response is to use the following simple steps. First, sit and close your eyes. Then try to gently focus your mind on repeating a word or phrase that you have chosen or on your relaxed and steady breathing process. If you notice that your mind is not focused on the repetition of your word, phrase or breathing, then gently bring your mind back again to the repetition of your word, phrase or breathing. You can spend time doing this for a few minutes or up to an hour or longer. More details are shown on the protocols pages.
For most people, when they do this protocol they have a relaxed and peaceful feeling. They also usually feel refreshed after it is over and then have more energy for the rest of the day.
The Big Picture
For the big picture about the Relaxation Response, we need to review some of the history of medicine. In the later 1800s, the germ theory of disease was used to explain how diseases can occur. This theory explained many serious diseases like rabies and cholera. The germ theory of disease says that certain diseases are caused by certain germs in the body. The idea is to get rid of the unhealthy germs to get rid of the disease. The germ theory was useful for many diseases, but it did not explain all diseases.
In the early 1900s, scientists began to study stress in the body. The scientist Walter B. Cannon came up with the idea of the "fight or flight" response. This response comes when we feel like we are in danger. Our body then increases muscle tension and certain chemicals and makes other changes in our body. These changes are so that we can be ready to fight or run away from the danger.
Starting in the 1940s, these ideas were refined by the scientist Hans Selye. Dr. Selye found even more changes in our body when it is stressed. He grouped all of these changes together and called these changes the "stress response". The stress can be caused by things that are in or around our body or from just how we think about these things. More research has shown that when we have this stress response over a long time period, it can make us unhealthy. Also, even a few periods of intense stress can cause problems.
Starting in the 1970s, the scientist Herbert Benson began to study another response. In many ways, this was the opposite of the stress response. Dr. Benson called this the Relaxation Response because it helped us feel more relaxed and calm. It has also come to be known as the "rest and digest" response to contrast it with the "fight or flight" response. As explained on the protocols page, if you follow the proper steps then you can usually bring about the Relaxation Response in an easy and natural way. Research shows that when we bring about the Relaxation Response, then we usually have more healing and better health.
In summary, scientists have found over the past hundred and fifty years that we can get sick or feel bad from at least two different causes. One cause of sickness is unhealthy germs in our body. A second cause of sickness is when our stress response happens over and over. But scientists are also finding out that when we bring about our Relaxation Response over and over that we can often improve our health in many areas.
Our stress response causes our bodies to prepare to be more active. Our heart rate and blood pressure go up. Our digestion slows down. We have more blood flow to our arms and legs. Certain hormones are increased. Our body is trying to protect us from what we think might be a danger.
On the other hand, our Relaxation Response causes our bodies to relax. Our heart rate and blood pressure go down. Our digestion becomes more active. Our blood flows more in our core body instead of our arms and legs. Certain hormones are decreased. Our body is trying to help us relax and heal.
One big contrast between the stress response and the Relaxation Response is how they start. The stress response can happen quickly and without thinking if our body senses we are in danger. But the Relaxation Response usually happens only because we decide to do it. We have to take the proper steps on purpose. Some proper steps to bring about the Relaxation Response are described in more detail on the protocols page.
Significantly greater reductions in psychological distress, state anxiety, and perceived stress were found in the experimental group. This brief mind/body training may be useful as a preventive intervention for college students...
Benson's Relaxation can reduce the anxiety and pulse frequency of heart patients who are treated in the Hospital.
Exposure to the RLR [ReLaxation Response] curriculum, but not the control curriculum, resulted in significant increases in self-esteem and a tendency toward greater internal locus of control scores. Teacher observations indicated a high degree of student acceptance of RLR training.
Benson's Relaxation Response Meditation appears to be a viable treatment for IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome]