The Relaxation Response

The classic mind/body approach that has helped millions conquer the harmful effects of stress.
by Herbert Benson | 240 pages

Originally published in 1975, this is an old-school classic on the science of meditation. Herbert Benson, MD, has been a Professor at Harvard Medical School and a leading figure in the mind/body movement for decades. Benson was the first to scientifically establish the significant positive effects of meditation. He called it the “Relaxation Response.” Big Ideas we explore: Fight-or-flight vs. Relaxation responses, how to elicit the relaxation response, the placebo effect (is powerful!), and the power of focus.


Why this could be the most important book in your life…

Sixty to ninety percent of visits to physicians are for conditions related to stress. The Relaxation Response counteracts the harmful effects of stress in a host of conditions including: anxiety, mild and moderate depression, anger and hostility, hypertension, irregular heartbeats, pain, premenstrual syndrome, infertility, hot flashes and menopause, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other stress-related illnesses…

You can learn simple mind/body techniques to elicit the Relaxation Response without leaving home, and you can use them anywhere. The Relaxation Response is without serious side effects and reaffirms the value of prayer, meditation, and relaxation in your daily life!”

~ Herbert Benson, M.D. from The Relaxation Response

Originally published in 1975, this is an old-school classic on the science of meditation.

Herbert Benson, MD, has been a Professor at Harvard Medical School and a leading figure in the mind/body movement for decades.

Benson was the first to scientifically establish the significant positive effects of meditation. Only, he’s an awesome, conservative academic committed to bringing the benefits of meditation to the masses without all the woo woo so he doesn’t call it meditation.

He calls it inducing “the Relaxation Response” which proves to be a super powerful way to counter the toxic effects of chronic stress that comes from living in “fight-or-flight” mode too much of the time.

This book outlines Benson’s initial research. (Get a copy here.)

We also have a Note on his more recent book The Relaxation Revolution in which he explores the epigenetic effects of meditation and other goodness. (Unless you deliberately want to go old school, I’d recommend the newer Relaxation Revolution rather than this as it’s a more up-to-date look at what’s up!)

I have been deeply inspired by Dr. Benson’s work and mention a couple of my favorite Big Ideas from his work in our MEDITATION 101 class. Check it out for more on the applied whys + hows of meditation.

For now, let’s jump in and explore a handful of my favorite Big Ideas!

We’ll start with juxtaposing the fight-or-flight response with the relaxation response.

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About the author

Authors

Herbert Benson

A pioneer in Mind-Body Medicine.