The relaxation response is a term coined by Herbert Benson in 1976. It is the change we experience when we switch off the flight or fight response of high stress and return to the rest and digest state. By using a simple object of focus, such as the breath or a repeated word or phrase, we can learn to take control of our autonomic nervous system and switch off the emergency state of hyper arousal. It is very simple to do and takes no more than few minutes in most cases.
In today’s world many of us are constantly stressed and it is easy to live most of the day in fight or flight mode. The stress hormones are only meant to be running through our system for short periods at a time, when they are needed to get us out of danger. If we live in an almost constant state of perceived threat these stress hormones flood our system day after day, cause accelerated wear and tear and throw us out of balance. Over time this leads to a multitude of serious health issues and eventually death.
The technique itself has been found to be less effective than Transcendental Meditation for stress relief in several studies and there are many activities which can trigger the relaxation response. What’s important to note is that it is possible alter our physiological state of being quickly and simply in just a few minutes. or even seconds, once we know how.