Herbert Benson in his lab.Herbert Benson in his lab.
Time 1975
Title Meditation is used as a therapy for some cardiovascular illnesses
Event Herbert Benson of Harvard publishes a landmark book on transcendental meditation (TM) called The Relaxation Response. The book outlines a simple method for lowering heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, affecting metabolism, and controlling pain.

TM is a set of mind/body exercises that counteract and reduce the harmful effects of stress. While practicing TM, the mind and body settle down and experience restful alertness. As the mind becomes more silent, the body becomes deeply relaxed. TM adherents believe that this state contributes to greater creativity, improved learning, better reasoning skills, and increased mental well-being.

Practitioners claim that TM correlates with improvements in physical health. These include improved blood pressure and heart rate, better metabolism, and the ability to control pain. Studies are still ongoing to determine the extent to which this and other forms of meditation alter brain function, heart rate, blood flow and immune function.

Benson draws from Eastern spiritual traditions to create TM. He essentially “secularizes” these traditions to make them more accessible for Westerners.

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