Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response

The following is the technique reprinted with permission from Dr. Herbert Benson's book
The Relaxation Response pages 162-163

1.   Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

2.  Close your eyes.

3. Deeply relax all your muscles,
beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.
Keep them relaxed.

4.  Breathe through your nose.
Become aware of your breathing.
As you breathe out, say the word, "one"*,
silently to yourself. For example,
breathe in ... out, "one",- in .. out, "one", etc.
Breathe easily and naturally.

5.  Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm.
When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes,
at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened.
Do not stand up for a few minutes.

6.  Do not worry about whether you are successful
in achieving a deep level of relaxation.
Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.
When distracting thoughts occur,
try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them
and return to repeating "one."

With practice, the response should come with little effort.
Practice the technique once or twice daily,
but not within two hours after any meal,
since the digestive processes seem to interfere with
the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.

* It is better to use a soothing, mellifluous sound, preferably with no meaning.
or association, to avoid stimulation of unnecessary thoughts - a mantra.

Daily Calendar

How to Bring Forth the Relaxation Response

Scientific Research

Herbert Benson, M.D.  Harvard Medical School

The crimson book that is a national best seller

Oxygen consumption decreases during meditation
indicating a low demand for oxygen during deep rest.

First published study on meditation by Dr. Benson:
in 1971, "A wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state"

Dr. Herbert Benson and Dr. Robert Keith Wallace
Reduced Drug and Alcohol Use
Benson, H.; Wallace, R., et al.  Decreased drug abuse with Transcendental Meditation: A study of 1,862 subjects. In Drug Abuse: Proceedings of the International Conference, ed. Chris J. D. Zarafonetis, pp. 369-376. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger, 1972.

The Relaxation Response was found to be the same as a Placebo
in reducing trait anxiety in a meta-analysis of 146 studies.
Meta-Analysis 2  Decreased Trait Anxiety through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Other Meditation and Relaxation Techniques.

Alcohol meta
Meta-Analysis 4  Reduced Alcohol Abuse through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Peer Influence Programs, Relaxation Techniques (Biofeedback, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Clinically Standardized Meditation, Relaxation Response), Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Programs, and Preventive Education.

Psych Outcomes meta
Meta-Analysis 7  Improved Psychological Health through the Transcendental Meditation Technique Compared to Zen and Other Meditation Techniques Designed to Mimic the TM technique (Relaxation Response Techniques).  
The RR was the 3rd best technique studied.



Dr. Benson's research in to meditation
began with the Transcendental Meditation
technique, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. 

But he is maintaining a neutral, objective position,
not aligning with any particular meditation organization. 

Research indicates that TM, which has a particular way of
being taught, is more effective in producing consistent results.

For more information on TM in particular,
see article on how to meditate