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The Relaxation Response Paperback – 1 Feb 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books; Revised edition edition (Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380815958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380815951
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

""The Relaxation Response "can show us how to lower our blood pressure, change our harassed personalities, and, perhaps, even save our lives."-- Noah Gordan, "Journal of Human Stress""Pills, special diets, and exercises can help some people, but "The Relaxation Response "as Dr. Benson describes it can help everyone."-- David W. Ewing, Executive Editor, "Harvard Business Review"

From the Back Cover

When Dr. Herbert Benson introduced this simple, effective, mind/body approach to relieve stress in THE RELAXATION RESPONSE twenty-five years ago, the book became an instant national bestseller. Since that time, millions of people have learned the secret of the relaxation response -- without high-priced lectures, drugs, or prescription medicine. The tremendous success of this approach has turned THE RELAXATION RESPONSE into the classic reference recommended by most health care professionals and authorities to treat the harmful effects of stress.

This revitalizing, therapeutic approach, discovered by Dr. Benson and his colleagues in the laboratories of Harvard Medical School and its teaching hospitals, is now routinely recommended to treat patients suffering from heart conditions, high blood pressure, chronic pain, insomnia, and many other physical ailments. Requiring only minutes to learn, and just ten to twenty minutes of practice twice a day, the relaxation response has proven to be one of the most effective ways to relieve the tensions of modern-day living for a richer, healthier, more productive life.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this little book nearly 30 years ago, and was mildly surprised to see that it was still in print (it popped up in my Amazon recommendation list).

I was even more surprised to see that one reviewer called it 'overblown guff' and gave it a one-star review. Way back in the 70's, this book had a profound effect on me, and vastly changed my life for the better - in ways that still continue.

Anyway, the one-star review prompted me to buy it again and reread it, just to see if it was so hopelessly outdated as to deserve the bad review.

Having read it again, I'm left with the feeling that it's a true classic - and like most classics, that means that while it has a continuing relevance, it is also 'of its time,' and CAN feel somewhat dated.

This is an 'updated' version, though the main change seems to be a new 45-page introduction. I found this interesting as a commentary on the book's history, but have to admit that I found the overall tone a bit off-putting (for my taste it was a tad too self-congratulatory and smug).

After the introduction, the book seems to be pretty much as I remember it, and I think I can see why the other reviewer didn't like it. Much of the content now seems totally self-evident to us: Stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes; Our state of mind can have a profound effect on our body and our health. It almost seems too obvious to need saying.

But the thing is, when the book was first published, this was revolutionary stuff. This book was a crucial part of the paradigm shift that took us to our present position, where meditation is no longer seen as the preserve of weirdos and oriental monks.

So why is the book still relevant?
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Format: Paperback
"A Customer" was clearly expecting a step-by-step self-help book, which is exactly what this book isn't.

While it does offer instruction in bringing about the relaxation response through meditation, there is also much supporting medical evidence, and examples of the approaches taken by practitioners of different religions through time. The idea is, of course, that you can take or leave whichever bits appeal to you, and it's emphasised repeatedly that meditation needn't be a faith-related activity and can be undertaken by those who are entirely godless (my words, not the author's!)

Overblown guff? Not at all. Stating the obvious? Up to a point. But it's so much easier to accept the necessity or usefulness of doing something obvious if it's backed up by some well-reasoned argument.

This book will take just a few hours to read unless you're a really slow reader, and if, like me, you've suffered from chronic depression I'd certainly recommend it - but as a complement to drugs rather than an alternative.

I've given it five stars for its potential beneficial effects; if I were to be hyper-critical, I don't much like the prose style, but it's easy enough to read. And in any case, it scarcely matters that the book isn't great literature.
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I bought this book a while ago, a 2nd hand copy from 1975. It's not as flowery & friendly as modern 'self-help' books but i prefer it that way. It's not really a self-help book, more a factual book about meditation. It gives really interesting background gobbets of information - quotes & anecdotes about meditation from well-known historical sources. It explains how Transcendental Meditation uses a similar method - a method that has been used for centuries. Like others have said - considering the cost of TM courses - this book is worth a try. Chapter 7 alone is worth the money because it just gets to the point - it's all you need.
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Format: Paperback
The book claims to teach an alternative to the TM technique that is just as effective. As TM costs a fortune to learn and this book costs just a few quid, well worth the cost of the book.
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This book is interesting as an insight into what was considered revolutionary in 1975 (ie. the health benefits of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system). It is however somewhat dated, as science and common understanding on this subject has since moved on. For example, the book analyses the link between stress and high blood pressure, but it doesn't mention the other ways in which the nervous system, the circulatory system and the respiratory system inter-relate. There are even a few claims which have more recently been disproved (such as the part discussing cholesterol and diet).

There is much more to the book than plain science, however. For example, Chapter 4 lists various 1970s "alternatives" to meditation devised by contemporary physicians and neurologists. And Chapter 5 provides a background to the subject of meditation in a historical, religious and geographical context.

I especially enjoyed reading the "Forward" (later written in 2000) where Bensen discusses his career and personal experiences from the 1960s onwards, including the initial resistance he faced from contemporary academics who were reluctant to find links between physical health and relaxation/meditation.
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