Choose a Relaxation Agent - a word, image, phrase or short prayer. Or focus only on your breathing during the exercise.
The Benson-Henry Protocol
The standard Benson-Henry protocol or technique for bringing about the Relaxation Response consists of the 8 steps* shown below along with the optional second phase is shown below as steps 8 and 9. Step 10 was added by this website to provide advice about time after the Relaxation Response.
This protocol is simple, so it should only take a few minutes to learn the basics. Steps 1 and 8 may take some thought at the very beginning. In Step 1, you decide on what this website calls your "relaxation agent". Your relaxation agent can be a word, image, phrase, short prayer or just your breathing. In Step 8 (Phase 2), you decide on your mental imagery. Phase 2 was added by Dr. Benson after studies about the placebo effect.
After you make your choices for step 1 and step 8, practicing your protocol can become very routine. Health benefits build up over time and usually do not depend on any feelings that you may have during the Relaxation Response.
We are not aware of any problems that people have had using open protocols for the Relaxation Response. However, it is good to be aware of problems that some people have had with some traditional practices. These problems are discussed in the precautions section. Also, please read our disclaimer before choosing to start any practice on your own.
Phase 1 : Start Protocol
[ --- Optional --- ]
PHASE TWO - Visualization
Your body may be in a state of deep rest after bringing about the Relaxation Response. Therefore, just as when you are coming out of a deep sleep, it is wise to give your body a few minutes before getting up. It is usually best to keep your eyes closed during this time. A common practice is to use about 1 minute with eyes closed for every 10 minutes that you experienced the Relaxation Response.
* These 10 steps are described on pages 9-10 of The Relaxation Revolution, by Herbert Benson and William Proctor (2010)