MEDITATION and RELAXATION:

20 Minutes A Day Can Make A Difference

by Marianne Ross, Ph.D.

Learning how to relax, really relax, can have a far-reaching influence on the quality of your life. There is a difference between "vegging" (which can be a good thing to do) and taking time to engage in activities that produce deep relaxation. Meditation is an activity that can lead to deep relaxation.

Deep relaxation has specific characteristics. About 25 years ago, Herbert Benson defined the relaxation response. When a person has a relaxation response, several physiological changes occur. They are:

  • Decrease in heart rate
  • Decrease in respiration rate
  • Decrease in skeletal muscle tension
  • Decrease in metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
  • Decrease in analytic thinking
  • Increase in skin resistance
  • Increase in alpha wave activity in the brain

Meditating (one of several activities that produce the relaxation response) for 20-30 minutes a day, over time, can lead to a generalized feeling of relaxation in many areas of one's life.

Some of the benefits of deep relaxation are (Bourne, 1995):

  1. reduction of generalized anxiety
  2. preventing stress from building up
  3. increased energy and productivity
  4. improved concentration and memory
  5. reduction of insomnia and fatigue
  6. prevention and/or reduction of psychosomatic disorders such as hypertension, migraines, headaches, asthma, ulcers
  7. increased self-confidence and reduced self-blame
  8. increased availability of feelings

Try meditating 20-30 minutes a day for an extended period of time. Visit "Virtual Meditation" every day. See if you can experience some of the physiological changes listed above. See how it affects your life.

References: 

  • Benson, Herbert. (1975). The Relaxation Response. New York: Morrow
  • Bourne, E.J.(1995). The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

 4/22/98

Marianne Ross, Ph.D., is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Irvine and Laguna Beach, CA. (714) 497-3454). She also works at the University of California, Irvine. Counseling Center/College of Medicine.

 

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