There is a natural innate protective mechanism within all of us that can be consciously tapped in to. Physiologic changes can be tapped in to without a visit to the doctor and a prescription from the pharmacy.
Dr. Benson, M.D. of Harvard University compared Transcendental Meditation, Zen and Yoga, Autogenic Training, Progressive Relaxation, Hypnosis with suggested deep relaxation, and Sentic Cycles. He measured all six of these techniques physiologic changes such as oxygen consumption, respiratory rate, heart rate, alpha waves, blood pressure and muscle tension to term the Relaxation Response.
But you don't have to master Transcendental Meditation or Hypnosis to signal the Relaxation Response. All you need is 1 . a quiet environment, 2. an object to dwell upon, 3. a passive attitude – “let it happen,” and 4. a comfortable position.
In order to trigger the Relaxation Response, follow the steps below:
Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes.
Deeply relax all your muscles
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.
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.
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, merely return to repeating “ONE.” With practice, the response should come with little effort.
Practice anytime throughout the day (just not within two hours after any meal since the digestive process seems to interfere with the elicitation of the Relaxation Response).
This allows us to turn off harmful effects from stress through changes that decrease heart rate, lower metabolism, decrease rate of breathing, and in this way bring the body back into a healthier balance.
Some people practice deep breathing when they are feeling anxious. However, practice of this technique once or twice daily can help you more easily navigate around challenges that appear in daily life.