Relaxation Response


As mentioned in an earlier post, relaxation has many, many benefits. Through his extensive study of relaxation, Herbert Benson from the Harvard Medical School has put together an 8-step sequence that consistently elicits the relaxation response. The sequence has been proven scientifically and has been used for decades.

Step 1: Pick a focus word, phrase, image or short prayer or focus on your breathing. Choose a word or phrase that is meaningful and emotionally soothing for you. Repeat the word or phrase during your entire exhalation.

Step 2: Find a quiet place away from distractions and sit or lie down comfortably.

Step 3: Close your eyes.

Step 4: Progressively relax all your muscles, moving up from the tip of your toes to the top of your head or vice versa if you prefer.

Step 5: Breath slowly and naturally, silently repeating your chosen word or phrase as you slowly exhale. Alternatively, you can focus on a picture or object or simply pay attention to your breath.

Step 6: Assume a passive attitude. Reserve any judgement regarding how well you are doing or whether it is working. If and when your mind strays to unrelated thoughts, simply think “oh well” and kindly and gently bring your attention back to your word, phrase, object or breath.

Step 7: Continue with this exercise for 12 to 15 minutes.

Step 8: Practice this technique at least once a day, either in the morning to set yourself for the day ahead or at a time that is more convenient or beneficial to you.

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