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Dr. Benson is a research director at Harvard's Thorndike Memorial Laboratory and the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, who has appeared recently on a segment of NET's physical fitness series, Feeling Good, during which he demonstrated the use of relaxation techniques. The Relaxation Response is an inborn counter-process to the body's ""fight or flight"" reaction to stress, which increases blood pressure, rate of breathing, muscle blood flow, metabolism and heart rate--a kind of all-systems-go mobilization for coping with acute and threatening situations. Most of us are under continual stress (there's an amusing table listing heavy weather occasions from ""Jail Term"" through ""In-Law Trouble"" to ""Christmas"") and our ""fight or flight"" mechanism is operating most of the time, causing no end of bodily harm. Dr. Benson here reports on research which has more or less defined and measured the effects of the therapeutic Relaxation Response when utilized in simple and regular exercises. However, he is careful in his claims and the laboratory work is documented and well explained. As for the techniques by which one may hope to stabilize body (and perhaps mind) to better cope with the everyday barrage of tensions, there are four simple steps which owe much to Transcendental Meditation and the religious practices studied by Dr. Benson: quiet environment, repetition of a word or phrase, a ""passive"" attitude (really a tuning-out), and a comfortable position. Certainly worth trying for 10 to 20 minutes twice a day. OM and m-m-m-m.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1975
Publisher: Morrow