Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Relaxation Response

What if there was an exercise that you could do for as little as ten minutes a day, three times a week that was proven to:
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Reduce or prevent migraines
  • Combat heart disease
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Decrease premenstrual symptoms
  • Decrease alcohol consumption
  • Decrease pain
  • Boost immune system functioning
  • Improve sleep
  • Decrease adrenaline production, thereby lowering the “fight or flight” response
  • Decrease anxiety and stress
  • Boost creativity
  • Improve relationships
  • Provide an overall feeling of health and well being
  • Increase your ability to recover from sudden stressors
  • And much, much more
Would you do it?

Better yet, what if you could do this exercise virtually anywhere—at home, riding the bus, even sitting at your desk at work?  And what if you never even had to break a sweat?

That exercise not only exists, it’s been used for thousands of years.

I’m talking, of course, about meditation.

Meditation has been studied extensively in the West, much more so than yoga’s other tools.  Herbert Benson, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, was one of meditation’s research pioneers in the 1970s.

Studying something as New Age as meditation wasn’t exactly kosher forty years ago, so Dr. Benson worked under the cover of darkness. He snuck experienced meditators into his research facility late at night, measured physiological markers, and mapped brain wave patterns.  The results were impressive. Meditators showed measurable changes in brain wave activity that allowed them to manage the stresses of life much more effectively than non-meditators.  Benson called meditation’s health and emotional benefits “The Relaxation Response.”

Many other researchers—including Joan Borysenko, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Dean Ornish—have replicated and expanded on these results. Their work has shown that a variety of meditation methods are equally powerful, and that effective meditation doesn’t require hours of time, a Zen-like yoga space or Tibetan master teacher.  To meditate, you simply have to sit quietly for ten minutes a day, three times a week and focus on a word, phrase, idea, or image.

Start with this simple breath focused meditation or go online and Google the word “meditation.” You’ll find literally thousands of sites with hundreds of techniques, one of which is bound to appeal to you. 

Give it a try.  I think you’ll be surprised at the results!


Tracy Weber


Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks for your latest blog and reminder, Tracy. I still do not meditate but I probably should!

Tracy Weber said...

Meditation is one of the simplest and most powerful tools of meditation. I guarantee you won't regret it!

Betty Hechtman said...

I couldn't agree more. Meditation is the best!