The Relaxation Response: The Flip Side of Stress Response

You’re stressed big time. It’s affecting your performance, your mood, and maybe even your health. You know enough about meditation to think it might be a good idea, but it may seem too “woo woo” or too complicated. To work for you, a practice has got to be simple, take little time, and darn well better produce tangible results.

Here’s one that does.

It’s called the relaxation response, and its benefits accrue immediately. Use this practice and I guarantee that you will be more effective personally and professionally, whether through improved performance or increased well-being.

What you need: A quiet place; a comfortable position (sitting up straight or lying on the floor); a sound, word, or phrase that has meaning for you; a desire for increased effectiveness or well-being, and a willingness to practice.

How to begin: Sit comfortably in your quiet place with your spine straight. Close your eyes and relax your muscles. Breathe slowly, silently repeating your word, sound, or phrase. Acknowledge distracting thoughts, then let them pass. Continue for 15-20 minutes (you might set a quiet alarm) and then gently transition into the rest of your day. Practice daily for two weeks, then daily for as long as you enjoy the results.

What you’ll notice: With daily practice you will feel and have a noticeable increase in calm and well-being in as little as two weeks. It is not the same as swinging in a hammock or listening to soothing music-although these can be wonderfully beneficial-but the positive effects are far more profound. You’ll notice increased equanimity and clarity of thought. You’ll be less reactive and find that you have a greater sense of well-being, even enjoyment of the day-to-day.

For additional background, see Dr. Herbert Benson’s books: The Relaxation Response, The Mind/Body Effect, Beyond the Relaxation Response, and Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief.

U.S. Library of Congress ISSN 2164-7240

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