Learning how to relax, really relax, can have a far-reaching influence on the quality of your life. There is a difference between “vegging” (which can be a good thing to do) and taking time to engage in activities that produce deep relaxation. Meditation is an activity that can lead to deep relaxation.
Deep relaxation has specific characteristics. About 25 years ago, Herbert Benson defined the relaxation response. When a person has a relaxation response, several physiological changes occur. They are:
Decrease in heart rate
Decrease in respiration rate
Decrease in skeletal muscle tension
Decrease in metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
Decrease in analytic thinking
Increase in skin resistance
Increase in alpha wave activity in the brain
Meditating (one of several activities that produce the relaxation response) for 20-30 minutes a day, over time, can lead to a generalized feeling of relaxation in many areas of one’s life.
Some of the benefits of deep relaxation are (Bourne, 1995):
reduction of generalized anxiety
preventing stress from building up
increased energy and productivity
improved concentration and memory
reduction of insomnia and fatigue
prevention and/or reduction of psychosomatic disorders such as hypertension, migraines, headaches, asthma, ulcers
increased self-confidence and reduced self-blame
increased availability of feelings
Try meditating just a few minutes a day for an extended period of time. and feel the great benefits of how it can affect your life.
by Marianne Ross, Ph.D.
Benson, Herbert. The Relaxation Response.
New York: Morrow, 1975.
Bourne, E.J. The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook.
Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 1995.