The Relaxation Response
A great Wellness tool to learn more about and implement into daily life is a technique called the Relaxation Response. Basically this response in our body is the other end of the continuum from the Fight or Flight Reflex (where our mind and body gears up for perceived danger by increasing blood pressure, breathing rate, speed of metabolism, increased muscle tension and increased brain wave frequency). This response mobilizes our body to “fight” or “run” from the perceived danger. Unfortunately, when stress continues to build in or daily life without healthy release and balance, our mind and body move closer to this type of response. This then takes a toll on how we feel mentally, emotionally and physically (often being a main contributor to chronic physical conditions).
The Relaxation Response Technique generates the opposite response in our body-our heart rate, blood pressure, brain wave frequency and breath rate all slow down as well as muscle tension decreases. Since stress is cumulative, doing the Relaxation Response Technique on a regular “hygiene” basis (not just when you are feeling overly stressed or anxious) can shift where you are at on the continuum between the “Fight or Flight” response and the “Relaxation Response” on an ongoing basis.
To elicit the Relaxation Response, research has shown that there are two main steps:
1) Repeat a word, sound, prayer, phrase or muscle activity.
2) Passively disregard everyday thoughts that come to mind and return to your repetition.
While there are many techniques and focuses to use to incorporate these steps – many people use a spiritual focus as part of the first step – keeping you mind repetitively focused on one thing for an extended period (try for at least 10 minutes) is the key