The late Dr. Herbert Benson was a cardiologist who taught at Harvard Medical school. During his career, he was approached by transcendental meditation practitioners asking him to study the effects of meditation on heart health. He eventually agreed. The results changed his perspective as well as the course of his career, leading him to exploring the of mind-body medicine.

Dr. Herbert Benson coined the term “Relaxation Response” to describe the body’s feedback response to meditation practice. His research came to show that the Relaxation Response went as far as to reverse DNA damage and inflammation caused by the stress response.

Relaxation Response Technique

The Relaxation Response can be triggered using pranayama (mindful breathing techniques) combined with yoga asanas, qigong, and transcendental meditation. It can also be triggered by any practice that utilizes the following steps:

  1. Place yourself in a comfortable position. It can be sitting, standing, or lying down.
  2. Begin to watch your breath.
  3. Apply a mantra that follows the breath. It can be a phrase, prayer, or simply thinking “inhale” on your inhales and “exhale” on your exhales.
  4. When you catch your mind wandering, because this is natural and it will, bring your thoughts back to your breath and mantra.
  5. Do this for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Dr. Herbert Benson Explains The Relaxation Response Technique

If you are a physician who would like to learn more, Harvard Medical School offers a CME course “The Herbert Benson, MD Course In Mind Body Medicine.