The Relaxation Response

The Relaxation Response is a learned behavior or practice describing a natural restorative phenomenon that is common to all as a counterbalancing mechanism to the fight-or-flight response. The term was coined by Herbert Benson, MD. and results in a state of profound rest that can have lasting effects if any of a number of techniques that involve mental focusing is practiced regularly.

Learning how to relax, really relax, can have a far-reaching influence on the quality of your life.

There is a difference between “vegging” (which can be a good thing to do) and taking time to engage in activities that produce deep relaxation. For instance, meditation is an activity that can lead to deep relaxation.

What is Deep Relaxation?

Deep relaxation has specific characteristics.

When a person has a relaxation response, several physiological changes occur. They are:

  • Decrease in heart rate
  • Decrease in respiration rate
  • Decrease in skeletal muscle tension
  • Decrease in metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
  • Decrease in analytic thinking
  • Increase in skin resistance
  • Increase in alpha wave activity in the brain

Meditating & The Relaxation Response

Meditating (one of several activities that produce the relaxation response) for 20-30 minutes a day, over time, can lead to a generalized feeling of relaxation in many areas of one’s life.

Some of the benefits of deep relaxation are:

  1. reduction of generalized anxiety
  2. preventing stress from building up
  3. increased energy and productivity
  4. improved concentration and memory
  5. reduction of insomnia and fatigue
  6. prevention and/or reduction of psychosomatic disorders such as hypertension, migraines, headaches, asthma, ulcers
  7. increased self-confidence and reduced self-blame
  8. increased availability of feelings

Try meditating 20-30 minutes a day for an extended period of time. See if you can experience some of the physiological changes listed above. See how it affects your life.

Watch Dr. Herbert Benson teach the Relaxation Response basics.

Regular elicitation of the Relaxation Response has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders. In fact, to the extent that any disease is caused or made worse by stress, the Relaxation Response can help.

To use the Relaxation Response in daily meditation just follow the easy steps outlined in The Relaxation Response.

About the Relaxation Response

The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson at

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"Be practical and expect miracles when you just take the first step forward every day." -Richard Edward Ward

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Copyright © 1981 to 2023 by Richard E. Ward. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 1980 to 2023 by Richard Edward Ward. All rights reserved.