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The intentional practice of uncritically focusing the mind on one thing

It is more about the process of focus than on the attainment of unbroken focus

Involved in many religions, although not religious in and of itself


Herbert Benson

Studied Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Relaxation response
Used word “one”


four components required to elicit relaxation response

Quiet environment
Mental device
Passive attitude
Comfortable position


Physiological Benefits of Meditation

Heart rate and respiration rates decrease
Oxygen consumption falls by about 20%
Blood lactate levels decrease
Increased alpha waves in brain
Galvanic skin response (GSR) decreases


Types of Meditation

Mantra meditation
Breathing meditation
Seeing meditation
Moving meditation


Mantra meditation

Focusing on a word, phrase, syllable, sound
Repeated aloud or silently
Serves as the mental device which you attend to


Breathing meditation

Focus is on the breath
Counting breaths


Seeing meditation

Mental device is a yantra or other visual
Can also use objects, nature, vastness,
candle flame


Progressive Relaxation (PR)

involves systematically tensing and relaxing various muscle groups to increase awareness and relaxation


Edmund Jacobsen

developed progressive relaxation (PR)


3 Types of Tensing

Active tensing
Threshold tensing
Passive tensing


Active tensing

Tensing each muscle group maximally without causing pain, injury, or cramping

The rest of the body is relatively relaxed

Continue belly breathing


Threshold tensing

Slight tension in each muscle group

Use for areas of the body which are injured or sore

May be used as one becomes more experienced with PR


Passive tensing

Rather than tense the muscle group, simply observe it, then relax

Used by experts of PR


PR May alleviate

Muscular tension (headaches, neck and back pain, etc.)
High blood pressure
Digestive disturbances
Chronic pain


PR May improve

Feelings of well-being
Emotional control
Spontaneity and creativity


Applied Relaxation Training

System by which participants learn to achieve relaxation on command and in stressful real-world situations

Deep relaxation within 20-30 seconds

5-8 weeks to progress through the program

Developed by Lars-Göran Öst to treat patients with extreme phobias


Applied Relaxation: 5 Stages

1. Progressive Relaxation
Learn to recognize the difference between tense and relaxed muscles
Identify “trouble spots” – areas of persistent tension
1-2 weeks, 2x15-minute sessions per day
Goal: entire body relaxation within 15-20 minutes

2. Release-Only Relaxation (a.k.a. Passive PR)
Cutting out tensing phase reduces total relaxation time
Must be able to identify difference between tension and relaxation
Maintain relaxation of other muscles as you progress
1-2 weeks, 2 sessions per day
Goal: entire body relaxation within 5-7 minutes

3. Cue-Controlled Relaxation
Cut relaxation time down further
Build an association between a cue word or phrase and your ability to relax
Ex: “Breathe in……..relax…….”
Practice 1-2 times/day
Goal: entire body relaxation within 2-3 minutes

4. Rapid Relaxation
Reduce relaxation time to 30 seconds or less
Select an external cue or reminder to relax (ex: your watch, a tree or object you pass, the steering wheel of your car)
Look at your cue and repeat the word “relax” as you scan your body
Practice frequently throughout the day (~15 times) during non-stressful situations
Goal: entire body relaxation within 20-30 seconds multiple times per day

5. Applied Relaxation
Relaxing quickly during stressful situations
Begin deep breathing and repeating cue word the moment an anxiety-producing situation arises
Must be aware to your body’s signals
Concentrate on relaxing the tense muscles you do not need at the moment
Practice several times per day, even when not faced with stressful situations


Taking Relaxation Into the Real World

-Practice relaxation regularly
-Learn to relax more quickly and scan body
-Practice relaxation with distractions
-Carry relaxation into standing position
-Relax throughout day
-Relax in stressful situations


Purpose of Imagery

-Imagery allows you to
See what you haven’t yet seen
-Replay great experiences for confidence
-Replay poor experiences for lessons learned
-Facilitate healing processes in the body
-Cope with and manage pain
-Improve concentration
-Rehearse difficult or dynamic performances
-Enhance motivation
-Control emotional responses and arousal
-Practice without increasing physical tax on the body


Internal Imagery

refers to imagery of the execution of a skill from you own vantage point (camera in head)


External Imagery

you view yourself from the perspective of an outside observer


Coping Imagery

a method of desensitizing wherein rest is joined by visuals that have demonstrated efficacy in managing anxiousness in scenarios that has once elicited fear or worry


Mastery Imagery

refers to being mentally tough, confident and in control