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The Relaxation Response

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,380 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
When Dr. Herbert Benson introduced this simple, effective, mind/body approach to relieving stress forty years ago, his book became an instant national bestseller. Since that time, millions of people have learned the secret — without high-priced lectures or prescription medicines. The Relaxation Response has become the classic reference recommended by most health care profe ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 8th 2000 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1975)
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Mar 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help, health
Usually I’m suspicious that doctors who write popular health books are more interested in making a buck or selling a product than in helping people get healthy. However, author Herbert Benson seeks to empower the reader by offering a simple method—the relaxation response—to counteract stress. Originally published in 1975, this was the first book to link stress with hypertension and to substantiate how regular use of relaxation techniques can reduce symptoms of hypertension and cardiovascular dis ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an informative, readable book about how to meditate. It promotes no specific religion or philosophy. Its focus is on combating the fight–or–flight response with a calmer reaction to problems. Through meditation the relaxation response is invoked twice a day. This learning spills over into the person's response to everyday stresses. It does discuss meditation in various Western and Eastern religions, and does condone using religion in conjunction with meditation if the person is so inclin ...more
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I've recently reviewed this book for the second time. A study was done at Harvard by Herbert Benson and colleagues back in the 70's. Their findings were that by triggering the relaxation response in the body through meditation all kinds of ailments are relieved. It's amazing to me that the benefits of conscious relaxation aren't more commonly known and understood in our society. I have practiced this in conjunction with restorative yoga and other meditation techniques with miraculous results in ...more
Nov 27, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is succinct and easy to read. I bought it based on its reputation, as it is a widely quoted resource on meditation. The book delves into the mind/body connection and how we can use meditation to bring down our stress level or as the book describes it, "The Relaxation Response," without the use of drugs or prescription medication.

I have put into practice the suggestions made in the book and it has made a world of difference in not only my stress level, but how I deal with stress in gene
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Read this back in the 70s and enjoyed it very much at the time as it was the "thing." I would still recommend it as good basic book on meditation.
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was drawn to this book while researching Transcendental Meditation. A friend had become involved in TM and was singing its praises. Acknowledging the fact that you need to pay $1000.00 for the TM course, I really wanted to be sure that this investment would be worth it. What is it, how does it work? The ritualism involved, (fruit, flowers and hankys, incense, etc.), as well as the monetary investment made me a bit skeptical. However, the positive side has a definite allure. So, what IS this s ...more
Shashwat Singh
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Relaxation Response was the original book that brought meditation to the mainstream.

Written by a Harvard MD, it goes over the major effects and benefits of inducing the "relaxation response". Basically, the relaxation response is defined as "A physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress... and the opposite of the fight or flight response." It includes meditation, as well as other practices such as prayer.

Additionally, the book covers the original
Joel Valdez
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
La vida y sus curiosidades: En un lugar remoto de Madrid, España, voy caminando y me encuentro con múltiples kioskos que se dedican a vender libros viejos y usados, y como me entretiene ver qué llama la atención me detuve y empecé a ver… Compré tres libros, todos usados y viejos. Este en particular es edición del 1975 y está lleno de subrayados y además dedicado por su antiguo dueño en el 1978.
El libro lo compré solo con leer su portada y contraportada, de las cuales me llevé la impresión de que
Samuel Morningstar
Aug 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: meditation
It's tough to review a book like this because almost everything you need to know is summarized in the introduction. The actual technique is very simple to learn, yet is a very powerful basic technique that every meditator needs to have in their toolbox. The majority of the rest of the book is filled with medical studies backing up the notion that meditation does indeed have a powerful effect on the mind and body. If you think meditation isn't for you or that you simply 'can't' meditate, this is ...more
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pamela by: Clint
A short book, about 100 pages long, that covers something that has been known and practiced for ages. The difference here is scientific study was applied and Benson shares the results. After the two pages describing how to do it, the rest was why. The Relaxation Response is like meditation, or deep prayer, and part of the book explores the different religions and writings that have discussed this process. It is a simple thing to do. The hardest part is to make it a habit and do it at least once ...more
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is well worth a read. The author presents the history of various forms of meditation as well as his research succinctly. The process of training yourself to reach the relaxation response is simple. I believe the single most damaging factor to our health is relentless stress that stimulates the "fight or flight" response throughout the day, most days. Though I have just started this form of meditation, I have had some success and look forward to continued incorporation of it into my day ...more
Deemah Al-Otaibi
Feb 06, 2013 rated it liked it
لم اكن اظن ان نشاط بسيط مثل الاسترخاء مهم بدرجة كبيرة ! و كيف ان التوتر لابسط الاشياء قد تسبب امراضا عديدة مثل صغط الدم المرتفع و تصلب الشرايين!..كان كتابا بسيطا يشرح به الدكتور بنسون تجاربه التي اداها في هذا المجال.. انتهيت من الكتاب بمعلومه جوهريه الا وهي انني بإسترخائي فإنني اؤدي لجسمي معروف واحميه من امراض كثيرة.. فالاسترخاء لمدة 10 دقائق يوميا يحصننا من كثير من المشاكل الصحية.. في الكتاب ايضا طرق للاسترخاء يشرحها الدكتور بإسلوب سهل و جد مفيد!!
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
Although the relaxation response technique is extremely short and easy to learn and is only described right at the end of the book, it is worth reading about the benefits of meditation if you are new to it. I looked into Transcendental Meditation but found that this method as taught by Herbert Benson dispels with the secret mantra as is just as effective without the mysticism. About to read Beyond the Relaxation Response now.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
This wasn't the most exciting read but I did like the author's basic concept. Most of the book provides reasons for eliciting and gives a historical account of "the Relaxation Response". Instructions for achieving it are found in the last couple chapters.
Aug 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: meditation
Garbage. It's 98% filler. The entire book's useful contents are found on 5 pages.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book.
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Short, easy read chock full of very interesting research about the effects of meditation on the human nervous system. Enjoyed it.
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Groundbreaking in its time. I have come across these ideas from followers of Dr. Benson. He started this all in 1975.
This book was recommended to reinforce my commitment to getting back into a less stress-driven life. Compelling reasons to do that lie within!
Dwight Hurst
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A classic, but still very pregnant in today's world. If you have anxiety, treat anxiety, or just interested in meditation or relaxation you need to read it.
Stacy K
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Wonderful learning tool with precise instructions. Recommend for anyone struggling to manage stress and\ or anxiety issues. Calendar provided to help with tracking.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Repetitive. Mindfulness
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Don't know how I missed this one....
Bernie Gourley
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the science of stress reduction
I read the 25th anniversary edition of this seminal work on stress reduction, which was released in 2009. Obviously, that makes this an oldie, but it’s clearly a goodie as well. The new addition has a substantial introduction, providing updated information.

The body’s “fight or flight” response to stressful conditions has long been recognized and it’s virtually a household term. However, despite the equally alliterative name and the fact that Dr. Benson’s original book came out well over 30 year
Sumit Suri
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anybody interested in knowing about meditation and its techniques can follow this book. Unlike the vague concepts mentioned in numerous spiritual books, it has some interesting and objective insights into what de-stressing really means and how one can work on that.
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Important book at the time. My advice is to skim till you get to the actual technique which takes about 5 pages.
Ted Kang
Mar 15, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alison Zemanek
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book on meditation was researched and written by a Harvard PhD., so it takes a very physiological approach to the subject and outcome of meditation. The author suggests a technique (which is the technique he used with success in his own studies), but he also allows the use of prayer, mantra, or any other spiritual device that might bring the desired outcome. I found this book to be very interesting and once I can find some quiet time, I look forward to beginning. Apparently, different peopl ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book has been around for a while. I had taken some meditation training in the past and I wanted to learn more about the science behind why meditation worked to reduce stress (and whether in fact it did). I found a wealth of information about the blood pressure responses to consistent meditation. What happens in the body as a result of high blood pressure was also described clearly. I also discovered some alternative meditation practices to those I had been doing periodically. This book as a ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
The title and description are extremely misleading. The book is mostly about the health risks of high blood pressure, how meditation can lower your blood pressure, and how monks and other practitioners of meditation have utilized their own forms of meditation over the years. The directions on how to meditate and achieve the actual relaxation response only appear in the last 20 pages of the book, and there's so little information given it could have easily been condensed into a pamphlet.

I would g
I like the science behind this book and the non-mystism approach of introducing it and why deliberately managing stress matters. I also like the simplicity of the [relaxation response] method and clarity about the necessary ingredients.

The book does badly need updating for current times, though. The science is a bit old and could use fresh, adjunct material to make for interesting and informative reading. Pairing some research of what was in The Happiness Hypothesis would be a good example, I th
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Herbert Benson, M.D. (born 1935), is an American cardiologist and founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He graduated from Wesleyan University and Harvard Medical School.

Benson is Mind/Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI). He is the author or co-aut
More about Herbert Benson...

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“You will learn that evoking the Relaxation Response is extremely simple if you follow a very short set of instructions which incorporate four essential elements: (1) a quiet environment; (2) a mental device such as a word or a phrase which should be repeated in a specific fashion over and over again; (3) the adoption of a passive attitude, which is perhaps the most important of the elements; and (4) a comfortable position. Your appropriate practice of these four elements for ten to twenty minutes once or twice daily should markedly enhance your well-being.” 3 likes
“One way to know whether hibernation is occurring is to measure the body’s rectal temperature. During hibernation this temperature decreases. Meditators, it appears, do not hibernate. Their rectal temperatures do not decrease during the practice of meditation.” 0 likes
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