Benson Relaxation Method
The following is a relaxation exercise from Dr Herbert Benson, in his book 'The Relaxation Response'. Give it a go, and see if you obtain any of the intended benefits.
Make sure you will be warm. Use a blanket or extra clothes if need be.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes.
Think about letting go of the tension in all your muscles, beginning at your feet and moving up to your face.
Keep the muscles loose.
Breathe through your nose.
Become aware of your breathing.
As you breathe out, say the word 'one' silently to yourself (or another word, such as 'calm'., 'peace', or 'easy'.)
Breathe easily and naturally.
Do not worry about it if you are not good at reaching a deep level of relaxation – let it happen at its own pace.
Distracting thoughts will probably occur. Do not dwell on these. Just return to repeating 'one' (or your own word).
If you start to feel a little dizzy or breathless this will be caused by over-breathing because you are feeling anxious about doing it right. Just breathe out when your body naturally wants to and concentrate on saying your word.
If you notice a slight tension in your 'favourite spot' - your jaws, neck or scalp - this will be because you are trying too hard. Just let go - this type of relaxation comes when you are not thinking about it!
Bring your relaxation to an end
After relaxing for 10-20 minutes, begin to bring your relaxation to an end.
You may open your eyes to check the time but do not use an alarm, which will make you tense up again.
When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes open. Then stand up slowly.
With practice the Relaxation Response should come with little effort. Practice once or twice daily but not for two hours after a meal. Digestion seems to interfere with the relaxation response.
It often helps to decide on a regular practice time and stick to it. It is easy to miss your practice if you do it at a different time each day.
For further tips and techniques, download our 'Top Ten Tips', or take a look at some further resources here. For more details of our one-to-one coaching or group training in managing pressure and preventing stress, you can contact us at our office in Reading, Berkshire on 0118 3283246 or via email.