Rapid leaps in scientific technology has brought the urban society a wide plethora of material comforts and it has also led to the age of information explosion in which information can be easily accessed from cyberspace. However, the high degree of development in these areas has inevitably resulted in its attendant problems. The most prevalent one is the high level of stress within the densely populated urban areas. Thus, the onus lies within us to search for a remedy to alleviate the problem. One possible remedy that we can consider is to begin the journey of meditation and relaxation.
Why is relaxation through meditation a remedy that is useful to relieve stress? This is because research by Herbert Benson (M.D.), at Harvard has shown that when our body is stressed, its adrenaline level increases as a result of the flight-or fight mechanism within it. As a result, the rate of heart beat and respiration increases and this is manifested as an increase in oxygen intake and an elevated blood pressure throughout the body. Interestingly, meditation has a therapeutic effect and it is more effective than sleeping! This is because research evidence has proven that oxygen consumption rate drops by 8 percent lower than waking hours within 5 to 6 hours of sleep whereas it lowers by 10 to 20 percent within minutes of meditation and relaxation!
Since the efficacy of meditation as means to relieve stress has been proven, it is wise to begin meditation on a regular basis to realize its long-term benefits. But, one might ponder which form of meditation to undertake as a start. This is subjected to individual preferences but within the scope of this article, I would like to share the Relaxation Response as devised by Herbert Benson. Below are its specific guidelines:
1. Sit comfortably in a quiet place with minimal distractions.
2. Keep your eyes closed and relax the muscles within your body from your feet to face.
3. Inhale and exhale through your nostrils mindfully. Each time after you have exhaled, recite "One" silently to yourself.
4. Keep your breathing natural for 10 to 20 minutes. You can put a clock to check the duration but do not set an alarm to it.
5. Upon completing the exercise for the stipulated time, sit silently for a few minutes with eyes closed followed by a few minutes with eyes opened.
6. Do not fret whether you have entered a deep state of meditation but allow things to happen at its own pace.
7. When distracting thought arises, allow it to come and go naturally and return to the recitation of "One" practice.
8. Practice this technique once or twice daily but not within two hours after mealtime because digestion might affect one from experiencing the full effects of meditation and relaxation.
You may use good meditation music in the background to help you in the process.