The Relaxation Response

Life on planet earth is often stressful, so one of the best things we can do is to consciously relax.

Since the 1970’s, research has consistently shown that relaxation enhances the health of the body, the mind — and strengthens the immune system.

The autonomic nervous system regulates the health to a large degree. It works in two distinct ways; the stress response and the relaxation response, sometimes called; ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest and digest’.

In the face of a perceived threat or challenge, the stress response spikes in order to meet the challenge. After the threat has passed, the relaxation response re-balances the system for the ongoing health-maintenance of the body.

Of course in today’s world, we face many stresses that cannot be resolved by ‘fighting or running’ and that energy and stress can quickly build-up in the nervous system. This accumulated stress inhibits the self-healing functions of the body, making it more vulnerable to pathogens and disease. It also fuels the spinning mind, as it searches for some resolution to the dis-ease.

Stress levels in the nervous system tend to drop back down gradually. So by consciously initiating the relaxation response, periodically throughout the day, it speeds up the re-balancing of the body and mind.

There are many helpful techniques to initiate the relaxation response. It can be as simple as being conscious of the body, slow the breathing and feeling the effect as the relaxation response kicks in. Also, as we calm down, we become more present, giving the added bonus of bringing awareness closer to seeing itself.

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