LECTURE HANDOUT: Eliciting the Relaxation Response (1996)


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Eliciting the Relaxation Response (generic meditations)

1) Create a personal space for daily sitting practice

  • you must make time for yourself
  • develop a daily routine

2) Sit in a comfortable position

3) Close your eyes

4) Relax your muscles progressively form head to feet (progressive relaxation)

  • break the connection between stressful thoughts and a tense body
  • use a “cleansing breath” as needed

5) Connect with your breathing

  • let the breath happen by itself
  • breath control is a more advanced technique

6) Repeat your focus word(s) silently in time with your breathing

  • a word or phrase with personal meaning is more effective

7) Practice without judgment, don’t worry about how you are doing

  • “I can’t stop my mind from wondering!!”….That’s fine, don’t try! 
  • Just practice bringing the mind back to concentration on breath and focus word

8) Practice at least once a day for 10-20 minutes

  • Practice is indispensable to progress at anything

The primary goal of meditation is not relaxation - it is awareness.  This is what leads eventually to getting the mind back under control.  Relaxation is a side effect of learning how to meditate.  The awareness and relaxation you develop in meditation will begin to carry over into everyday life, affording you much more choice in how you respond, and restoring your ability to enjoy life.

The process is the goal. 

Completing the session is success. 

It gets easier and more peaceful after repeated practice.  

The only definition of a good meditation is one that you did!!

Resources and References:

                Minding the Body, Mending the Mind            Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.

                Timeless Healing                                      Herbert Benson, M.D.







Om Lotus



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