The Meditation Relaxation

This popular relaxation technique was developed by Herbert Benson M.D., author of the best-selling book, The Relaxation Response.

It is a simple method of meditation that is used as a natural stress reliever.

Like many easy meditation techniques, this one derived from Transcendental Meditation TM®. Dr. Benson’s method allows for the desired relaxation response to occur. That is your best defense to counter the damaging effects of the opposing stress response.

This self-relaxation technique promotes a level of consciousness for deep meditation and healing that you don’t ordinarily experience. It delivers the benefits of meditation to relieve stress while removing some of the mysticism.

Although a program of two 20-minute sessions each day is ideal - you don’t have to feel that anything less is not going to be beneficial. If you try sticking to a troublesome routine you can create more tension than it helps to ease.

"The ideal is to develop a routine, a time to bring forth the relaxation response that becomes as much a part of the day as brushing your teeth."

~ Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine - BHI Staff

It is suggested that you start out practicing once a day for 10-20 minutes.

Try to plan your session before meals when you are less likely to doze off. Falling asleep may successfully relax you, but it cuts short the duration and full benefit.

Steps for the Meditation Relaxation Technique:

STEP 1: Find a quiet location free of distractions where you won’t be disturbed.

STEP 2: Choose a word, sound, prayer, or phrase (a mantra) to focus on. Dr. Benson recommends the word “one”. Or, try picking for yourself something that signals peace of mind like the word “peace” or “calm”. Once you pick your mantra however, don’t change it. You will come to associate that word with the tranquil effects of the relaxation response.

STEP 3: Sit upright in a comfortable position with your hands resting naturally in your lap.

STEP 4: Gently close your eyes, relax your muscles and quiet your mind – taking a few deep breaths to prepare for meditation may be helpful.

STEP 5: Breathe in slowly and naturally - become aware of each breath. Working with the normal rhythm of your own breathing, silently say your focus word to yourself as you exhale.

STEP 6: Assume a passive attitude. Simply disregard any distracting or worrisome thoughts by saying to yourself, “Oh well” and without criticism, gently return to your repetition in relaxation meditation.

STEP 7: Continue for 10-20 minutes. Judge your time or take a peek at a wristwatch. Do not use the disturbing sound of an alarm clock or timer. When your time is up, remain sitting quietly with your eyes still closed. Allow a minute for other thoughts to return and readjust to full wakefulness. Then open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising.

The deep breathing relaxation technique in meditation is just one of many different types of meditation. Sometimes that “just right” stress reducer may be listening to a tape or CD with guidance or “a voice” that helps you focus.

Experiment with ones that seem to line up with your area of comfort—maybe a stress relaxation techniques exercise that deals more on a physical level. Try progressive muscle relaxation or yoga that involve movement – these may provide a better fit.

But whatever you choose, keep in mind that all reliable relaxation methods should evoke that state of profound peacefulness within.

"Over 35 million US adults use mind/body approaches for better health."

~Herbert Benson, MD

People who regularly practice some sort of relaxation technique or meditation to relieve stress are typically less anxious or tense and better able to resist its ill-effects.

Harmonize your mind/body connection and use your own ability to limit the impact stress has on you.

Learn to harness your innate healing power.

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