Relaxation Response

The renowned Dr. Herbert Benson in his book, “The Relaxation Response”,  showed that by learning to use your awareness and your mind, you can begin to control your physical reaction to stress. This program introduces you to techniques that give you the chance to relax and reduce physiological symptoms.  Tension and anxiety make these symptoms worse. “The Relaxation Revolution” is the name of one of his most famous books.

Regular practice of a relaxation response changes the physiological interaction of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.  This leads to equilibrium and effective functioning. We offer a variety of relaxation techniques. You may choose the ones that you like the most and find the easiest to include in your regular routine.

What is the Relaxation Response?

“The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress… and the opposite of the fight or flight response.” 

The relaxation response is proven to help decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.  It can have lasting effects to cope with stress throughout the day. It can also improve health when it is practiced regularly.

Therefore, when you ‘elicit a relaxation response’ on a regular basis, it has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders.  In fact, the relaxation response can help to the extent that any disease may be due to or made worse by stress.

Transcendental Meditation Research

In the 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson was intrigued by Transcendental Meditation (TM). This meditation technique uses a mantra.  Benson conducted research to see if TM really produced any measurable effects on the body. First of all, together with his fellow researcher, physiologist Robert Keith Wallace, they found “…that the repeated mantra replaced the arousing thoughts that otherwise keep us tense during most waking hours.  The result is lower metabolic rate, slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and slower breathing.”

After that, he promptly theorized that the changes in the body produced by repetition of the mantra were not dependent on the specific mantra given to the meditators by the TM organization.  As a result, he measured the responses of meditators using various other words as mantras.  The body still produced positive effects.

“Herbert Benson then turned to Christians and Jews who practiced the standard Western form of meditation–prayer. He had Roman Catholic subjects use ‘Hail Mary, full of Grace’. He had Jews use the peace greeting ‘Shalom’. Protestants often used the first line of the Lord’s Prayer. In conclusion, they all worked.”

Mantra Versus Prayer

Benson wrote up his research in his book, The Relaxation Response.  It became a bestseller when it was published in 1975. The positive physiological changes that occur he labeled as the ‘Relaxation Response’. This is what meditation and prayer produce in the body.  Above all, his research found that subjects were much more likely to stick with a program of meditation when they were using a prayer for a mantra than when they were chanting a meaningless word.


See Herbert Benson on Youtube talking about his new book, The Relaxation Revolution


Relaxation Response reduces stress


“….her expertise in relaxation practice felt like a magnet that kept me coming back each week….. D.H.”