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Chapter 5. Acquiring Body Wisdom > Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

In his book Progressive Relaxation, Edmund Jacobson (1929), a Chicago physician, theorized that physical tension leads to mental tension, which further exacerbates physical tension. Therefore, learning to relax your body should promote mental relaxation and lowered stress levels. This technique has been used very effectively to treat a wide variety of stress-related disorders (Seaward, 1997). The theory of its use is simple: if you induce a feeling of deep relaxation in your body, you simply cannot be feeling stressed. As your body returns to homeostasis, your body's natural inclination toward healing and health is activated.

While we will present a formal protocol that you can follow to implement progressive relaxation, it is most important that you understand the principles and guidelines that will allow you to succeed as long as you commit to regular practice for several weeks. The reward for this short-term commitment is that you will be able to reduce the time needed to reach a relaxed state from twenty-five minutes down to five to seven minutes.


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