There are different protocols, both recent and ancient, that can be used to elicit the Relaxation Response. Because a major goal of this website is to spread scientific knowledge and understanding about the health benefits from the Relaxation Response, we choose to primarily focus on detailed coverage for only the recent protocols that are fully open and transparent. We do this for the following reasons.

Out of Respect for Traditions

The Traditions Section of this website gives a brief overview of the ancient practices that have been used throughout history that elicit the Relaxation Response - even though the purpose of the practice may not have been directly related to eliciting the Relaxation Response. These practices often have belief systems or worldviews associated with them which we believe should be respected on many levels. Some of these traditions may hold a belief that their practices reveal truths that are beyond scientific experimentation. Both out of respect for these traditions and because our focus is not on philosophical discussions, we focus on protocols that are independent of the traditions as much as is feasible.

Furthermore, if people have a tradition that they are comfortable with that elicits the Relaxation Response, there is usually already a great deal of teaching material available that is associated with that tradition. By following their tradition, people should already have access to the health benefits of the Relaxation Response and so there is no need to go over that tradition in detail on this web site.

To Utilize the Full Potential of Science and the Scientific Community

When a protocol is fully open and transparent, it makes it easier for the full scientific community to be free to investigate the underlying concepts involved. Protocols can then be freely modified and refined to determine possible mechanisms involved and, within ethical constraints, a plethora of tests and measurements can be made. As with most scientific endeavors, as deeper insights are gained it is likely that more effective protocols can be developed as well.

An open approach is especially vital given that the basic scientific understanding of the Relaxation Response is relatively recent and that there is so much potential good that could come from a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.

To Make the Relaxation Response Accessible to More People

Objective, scientific findings about the Relaxation Response will hopefully make the protocols more approachable for many people since the findings will be

  1. Independent of their own tradition or belief system
  2. Based on the latest scientific studies for efficacy
  3. More open to discussion and analysis
As Dr. Benson points out in chapter 10 of his book The Relaxation Revolution, a more universal use of the Relaxation Response has the potential for greater prevention of disease and a significant lowering of health care costs - certainly an important goal that has widespread acceptance and support.

To Utilize the Power of the Web

Although some health benefits can often be seen after only a few weeks of regularly eliciting the Relaxation Response, many of the benefits are not apparent until many years after regular practice. This makes it more costly to fund scientific studies. However, the feasibility of world-wide social networks on the web that focus primarily on the Relaxation Response make it easier to have open discussions about the practical benefits and limitations of regularly eliciting the Relaxation Response.

This is important since even though many health benefits have been verified scientifically, the Relaxation Response still seems to be relatively unknown by most people. It is also interesting to note that this lack of widespread knowledge about the benefits from the Relaxation Response was predicted by Dr. Benson in his book The Relaxation Revolution. He saw this lack of widespread knowledge and use of the Relaxation Response as a consequence of the protocols being free to use and more difficult to monetize when compared to drug or many other medical treatments. The advent of the web, however, allows many new ways to spread this knowledge and advocate for its use.

Comparisons to Fasting

Our approach can be seen to have a parallel with other practices in long standing traditions - for example the practice of fasting. Although fasting has a long tradition in many cultures and religious practices, the physiological and psychological aspects of fasting may be interesting from a scientific perspective independent of the reasons that a given tradition may employ fasting. The scientific investigations of fasting can inform someone who practices fasting purely for health benefits as well as those who practice fasting according to their tradition. In a similar way, scientific investigations of the Relaxation Response can inform someone who practices Relaxation Response protocols purely for health benefits as well as those who use the established practices in their tradition that elicit the Relaxation Response.

There are also some differences in investigating the protocols used for the Relaxation Response compared to a scientific investigation of fasting, however. For example, the Relaxation Response protocols can be practiced on a daily basis with no problem whereas full fasting by necessity can only be done on an intermittent basis.

Another difference is that it is not difficult to define or practice fasting, and the health benefits have been known for millennia for fasting independently of any tradition. However, a basic understanding of the Relaxation Response and its health benefits independent of ancient traditions has only started within the last 50 years. As such, there is much less accumulated experience or hypotheses concerning eliciting the Relaxation Response as a practice independent of traditional practices. This is another aspect of the reason given above about utilizing the full potential of science and the advantage of focusing primarily on transparent and open protocols.