The Relaxation Response: How Meditation Relieves Anxiety & Stress
How Meditation Reverses Anxiety By Activating The Body's "Relaxation Response"
Why Everybody Is Stressed Out
We are living in stressful times. The mounting career, relationship, and family commitments we face makes living in this chaotic, fast-paced world all the more difficult.
Pile on always connected modern technology, and only an absolute master can truly switch his mind off from the stress of worldly pressures and demands.
In a 2010 American Psychological Association survey, 75% of Americans reported that their stress levels were so high that they felt unhealthy.
But, stress is all in your head, right? How could it possibly harm your health, as these surveyed people claim?
That’s correct, if the effects of stress were purely in the mind then it would be no big deal.
How The "Fight Or Flight" Response Triggers Anxiety
The problem is, evolution has hard-wired our DNA to physiologically react in stressful situations — our heart races, our breathing becomes shallow, our blood vessels clinch up, our pupils dilate, our muscles tighten, all in preparation to either fight or flee.
The good news is that your body has a built in stress-defense mechanism — it's called the parasympathetic nervous system. Your ability to stay anxiety-free is directly tied to activating this often elusive system each and every day.
Then, what’s the best way to wake up this sleeping giant? Meditation.
Meditation Controls Anxiety Through The "Mind-Body Connection"
In the 1970’s, Harvard University physician Herbert Benson observed that well over half of his patient visits were because of stress related disorders, like anxiety.
He thought, if he could figure out a way to counteract this phenomenon, it could revolutionize the healthcare industry, helping untold numbers of people. He accomplished his mission.
In essence, what Dr. Benson discovered was the true power of the meditative mind-body connection — slower metabolism, measured breath rate, reduced heart rate, and quiet brainwave activity all combined to make the perfect state for healing.
Meditation Reverses Anxiety Through The "Relaxation Response"
By using meditation to simultaneously activate the parasympathetic nervous system while deactivating the body’s "fight or flight" stress mode, his patients reversed countless health issues, with anxiety often the first domino to fall.
Dr. Benson’s bestselling book, "Relaxation Response," has sold millions of copies, providing great momentum to the mind-body movement, and stands as another solid example of hard science confirming age-old mindfulness wisdom.
Note: The relaxation response brings countless benefits above and beyond relieving anxiety and managing stress. The infographic below goes into much more detail: