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How to Bring Forth the Relaxation Response
- Get into a comfortable position. When you first learn the technique, it will be helpful to be in a quiet setting. Pick a focus word. Examples of focus words include joy, relax, calm, peace or a similar word or phrase that speaks to you.
- Close your eyes. Keep your lips together.
- Breathe easily and naturally through your nose. As you focus on your breath, relax your muscles, progressing from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, neck and head.
- Become aware of your breathing. Say your focus word once with every exhale.
- Assume a passive attitude. Even people who have been doing the Relaxation Response for years have intrusive thoughts while doing the exercise. Whenever an intrusive thought comes into your mind during the exercise, the most important thing to do is not worry about it. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, imagine letting the intrusive thought flow right through your body and then out through the soles of your feet. Or gently say to yourself, “oh well.” Then go back to your focus word.
- When you are just starting to learn the technique, concentrate on your focus word for about one minute. Gradually increase these times so that by the end of two weeks you can relax for ten minutes.
- Do not stand immediately. After you have completed the exercise, take one or two deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Allow other thoughts to slowly enter your mind. Open your eyes and sit still for about a minute. You have now completed the technique.
- PRACTICE the exercise once or twice per day. The more you practice, the more relaxed you can become.