TUNE IN TO RELAXATION
THE RELAXATION RESPONSE
By Bob Feldman
In his book of the sametitle, Dr. Herbert Benson explains that through numerous methods one can reach this state which dissolves the stress-producing and controlling thoughts, reduces tension, lowers the heart and breathing rates, slows the metabolism and increases the alpha brain waves. Published back in 1975 when Benson was Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Director of the Hypertension Section on Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, he researched techniques used in the East and the West and the basic integrated information remains valuable to this day.
There are generally four elements used by effective relaxation methods to elicit the relaxation response:
1.A quiet environment: a room or space with minimal external
distractions and a calm atmosphere is ideal.
2.A mental device on which to focus (such as a word, phrase, sound or image) in order to deepen concentration. When “mind wandering” occurs, one simply returns to the repetition of the chosen device to help eliminate other thoughts and quiet the mind.
3.A passive attitude, which Benson considers the most essential factor
for relaxation, allows one to empty all thoughts and distractions from
one’s mind. Also important is not to worry about how well you are doing the technique, or about what is right and wrong.
4.A comfortable position which you can keep for the duration of your
relaxation method, suggested to be at least 10-20 minutes. It is important that there is no undue muscular tension.
Benefits of eliciting the relaxation response:
- Relieves fatigue and helps you cope with your anxieties.
- Relieves the stress that can lead to high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke.
- Reduces the tendency to smoke, drink and overeat.
- Can be used to help you sleep.
- Conserves the body’s store of energy.
- Makes you more alert so you can focus on what is really important.
- Reaffirms the value of meditation and prayer indaily life.
- Easily learned and can be done anywhere, at home or the place of your choice.
- Has no dangerous side effects.
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