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 a good definition of the Relaxation Response ?
The Relaxation Response is the natural relaxation in our body that is brought about by the repetition of an appropriate relaxation agent while maintaining a relaxed mental attitude.
The relaxation agent can be a word, a phrase, your breath, or another appropriate agent. With the simple step of repeating the relaxation agent with a relaxed mental attitude, our body begins to naturally relax. The Relaxation Response is naturally built into our bodies and can sometimes feel very deep and profound. Repeatedly bringing about the Relaxation Response can bring about many scientifically validated long term health benefits.
For most people, the easiest technique to bring about the Relaxation Response is to use the following simple steps. First, sit and close your eyes, preferably in a quiet environment where you will not be interrupted. 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 techniques pages.
For most people, when they use this technique with an appropriate relaxation agent, the result is 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. Sometimes this technique also allows people to more easily fall asleep if they are very tired or stressed. Health benefits usually come over time as a result of the regular practice of the technique.
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 might 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 to explain and help find cures for many diseases, but it did not address all diseases that we face.
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 about when we sense that 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, for example with PTSD.
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 is based on the "rest and digest" part of our nervous system in contrast to the "fight or flight" part of our nervous system as described by Dr. Cannon. As explained on the techniques 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 repeatedly bring about the Relaxation Response, then often we can bring about better health and healing from some chronic health conditions.
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 we experience our stress response 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 begin. The stress response can happen quickly and without thinking if our body senses or our mind believes that we are in danger. But the Relaxation Response usually happens only because we decide to do it. We have to take the proper steps with intention. Some proper steps to bring about the Relaxation Response are described in more detail on the techniques 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]