According to Dr. Gerbert Benson the Faith Factor is of central importance in going beyond the Relaxation Response. The Faith Factor is what we believe/perceive to be real.‘ It is how we interpret reality, or how our body sees the concrete world around us that is important. Therefore our personal powers and potential for well-being are shaped by the negative or positive way we think. The Faith Factor can effectively relieve headaches, reduce angina pectoris pains and perhaps even eliminate the need for bypass surgery (estimated 80 percent of angina pain can be relieved by positive belief) reduce blood pressure and help control hypertension problems, enhance creativity, especially when experiencing some sort of mental block, overcome insomnia, prevent hyperventilation attacks, help alleviate backaches, enhance the therapy of cancer, control panic attacks, lower cholesterol levels, alleviate symptoms of anxiety that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, short temper and inability to get along with others. The Faith Factor can effectively reduce overall stress and achieve great inner peace. The list could go on…
The Process to go Beyond the Relaxation Response is…
Firstly, one begins to elicit the Relaxation Response and secondly, one practices the Relaxation Response in conjunction with one’s personal belief system in the form of a positive affirmation.
The Relaxation Response refers to the inborn capacity of the body to enter a special state characterixed by lowered heart rate, decreased rate of breathing, lowered blood pressure and an overall reduction of the metabolism. In addition the effects produced by the Relaxation Response counteract the harmful effects and uncomfortable feelings of stress.
In this relatively peaceful condition the individual breaks free of worry cycles. Worry cycles are unproductive grooves or circuits that cause the mind to play over and over again almost involuntarily, the same anxieties, or uncreative, health-impairing thoughts.
Certain deep relaxation techniques can be used to elicit the Relaxation Response:
1. Find a quiet environment.
2. Consciously relax the body’s muscles.
3. Focusing for 10-20 minutes on a mental device, such as one positive word, a brief prayer, a positive affirmation, the breath, a candle.
4. Assume a passive attitude toward intrusive thoufhts.
Beyond the Relaxation Response
The effects of this technique combined with a person’s deepest personal beliefs, can create other internal environments that can help the individual reach enhanced states of health and well-being.
Relaxation Response + Belief System = The Faith Factor
(not a new concept but rather an original package) that combines two powerful but familiar spiritual vehicles…
1. Meditation/Deep Relaxation
2. A deeply held set of philosophical/spiritual convictions.
These techniques can be practiced anywhere, in any environment.
The Anxiety Cycle
Your anxiety cycle may be related to a difficult situation at work, a relationship at home, an illness in the family, concerns about your own health or limitations, or indeed about death itself. The process feeds on itself, intensifies and often leads to various health problems.
Everyone has experienced this kind of anxiety cycle at one time or another and certain people manage the problem better than others. However, everyone can use alittle help, such as a technique that will act as an antidote. Sometimes just to get up and walk around a little, ro take a coffee break, or even a vacation may be necessary. However, sometimes these informal thecniques anre not enough. Then the Relaxation Response is useful. The Relaxation Response is a simple form of prayer/meditation/deep relaxation that allows the mind to settle down and thereby provides an escape hatch. Going Beyond the relaxation Response helps one get in touch with one’s inner centre of peace and creates an oasis of calm. In this way you can develop a consistently effective tool that will encounter tension and its accompanying ills by breaking the cycle of anxiety.
In practical tems here are the steps to introduce the Faith factor into your life and thereby go beyond the Relaxation Response….
1. Pick a positive phrase or word that reflects your basic belief system (ie. I am peaceful, I am relaxed).
2. Choose a comfortable position.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Relax your muscles.
5. Become aware of your breathing, and start using your faith-rooted focus word.
6. Maintain a passive attitude.
7. Continue for a set period of time
8. Practice the tecnique twice daily
The Faith Factor which combines the Relaxation Response with your personal belief system, will not be a cure for every ill you face in your life. But properly employed, it can accomplish remarkably effective results through direct chemical actions in your body.
The usual sequence of events that can be expected in my experience is…
1. There is less concern about stress symptoms or illness; in other words the anxiety cycle is broken.
2. The stress symptoms become less severe.
3. The stress symptoms are present less fo the time and short periods of complete relief are noted.
4. The periods of relief become longer.
5. The stress symptoms are completely gone or remain in a fashion that no longer interferes with everyday activities. In fact, I have found that many people have difficulty remembering their original symptoms.
The time duration for a person to experience these full benefits is quite vairable. For some it can be as short as 1 or 2 weeks. For others, up to a year is required. Most people can expect improvements to occur in approximately 4-6 weeks with practicing twice a day for 20 minutes.
This relaxation technique can also be used anywhere at any time in your lives by returning your concentration back to the breath, relaxing, and then by repeating silently your positive affirmation statement.