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What is the Relaxation Response

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 25 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Relaxation Response Transcendental

Many of us have heard about the state of mind referred to as fight-or-flight which is the mind’s way of telling the individual they must survive; this particular response to stress and external stresses is often very strong and can even be debilitating.

However, in direct contrast to this fight-or-flight condition is what is known as The Relaxation Response, a method of calming down the body and mind in a similar manner to Transcendental Meditation.

What is The Relaxation Response?

As we have already touched on briefly the Relaxation Response is a means by which an individual can calm their body and mind down and revert to a calm, lucid state of mind far removed from the state of mind they would have been in whilst suffering the effects of stress.

The basic traits of this Relaxation Response can be found throughout history and throughout many different cultures and sub-cultures. The ancient Romans, Greeks and ancient Indian tribes regularly used this form of meditating to relax and – as they believed – make contact with the spirits of their dearly departed.

Of course we know that this is not the case but we can subscribe to the idea that practising the Relaxation Response for fifteen to twenty minutes per day can have a calming influence on your psyche as well as the environment around you.

How Do I Practice the Relaxation Response?

The first thing to remember when attempting the Relaxation Response is to do so out of the sight and earshot of others. In order to reach this quiet mental state you must be situated somewhere that is not next or near other people. A quiet spot in the garden perhaps or a bedroom would be suitable.

Sit comfortably with your legs crossed (if you can) and your eyes closed; this is instantly designed to bring a release of toxins in the body which will help you to relax.

You should concentrate on your breathing and try to relax your breathing to gentle, almost shallow breathes. Find a phrase (perhaps the lyrics of a song you like) and repeat it quietly to yourself; this is done to stop the mind wandering (which it will invariably do). During this time you should concentrate on your breathing in order to maintain a relaxed state.

Ideally you should look to do this more than once a day if you can but as the pace of life is so hectic for many people one session a day for fifteen to twenty minutes will be sufficient. Likewise whenever you find you have a few moments to spare try and relax whilst concentrating on your breathing; you don’t necessarily have to assume the position as detailed above but try – where possible – to slow down your breathing and take in plenty of oxygen.

Who Benefits from the Relaxation Response?

The answer to this is anyone who tries it and finds that it calms them down. Many of us live hectic fast paced lives where time is of the essence and no time is made for them. Practising these breathing and relaxation exercises can not only induce a positive mental state but also help the body to re-energise itself with just a few minutes a day.

Do I Have to Join a Class?

You don’t have to join a class – some people find the idea of sitting in a room with others embarrassing – but there are classes available that can help you perfect the technique. Your local college of further education may have classes listed on their new term prospectus or indeed you may find that a local community centre is running them – check your local newspapers and directories as well as colleges and community newsletters for more information.

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