About the Work
Scientific Relaxation is a trained skill, not counseling or therapy. Leading scientists today report that the chronic tension caused by anxiety and stress is cumulative and leads to physical and emotional symptoms, illness, premature aging and even death.
Edmund Jacobson, a brilliant Harvard M.D. and psychologist/physiologist, discovered a mechanism within the voluntary muscles that makes learning to relax chronic tension possible. His discovery, Scientific Relaxation, is one of the most important breakthroughs in medical history. He found that by using the mind, the body can be trained to remain relaxed but alert – allowing one to accomplish much more with less effort. By practicing this skill in daily life, over 70 years of clinical and laboratory research has proven that symptoms of stress can be reduced or eliminated.
Scientific Relaxation, as taught so well by Marylou Gantner, shows us that there is a different way. We can learn how to be relaxed in the midst of our everyday, busy and often challenging lives. Scientists report that we waste 30-60% of our energy when stressed. By reclaiming this energy, we are renewed with a vitality that allows for greater productivity, creativity and fulfillment in our lives.
Scientific Relaxation is the combination of progressive relaxation, differential relaxation and proper breathing. Marylou uses biofeedback and individualized stress management techniques to teach these life-enhancing skills.
The client learns to relax the body deeper than is possible during restful sleep while remaining alert and aware. Research shows that this deep muscle relaxation minimizes the cumulative effects of stress, restores energy, and promotes mental clarity. This is the way our body begins to release the years of chronic tension habit that is stored in our muscles. Additionally, T cells, a measure of the body’s immune function, have been shown to increase 40% with progressive relaxation training.
Recent research shows that as high as 85% of medical visits to health care professionals are for stress related symptoms. Stressed and anxious people breathe from their upper chest (shallow and rapid breathing), rather than breathing properly by engaging their diaphragm (deep and slow breathing). This shallow breathing engages one’s fight-or-flight system of urgency and threat and places extra work on the heart and cardiovascular system. Breathing incorrectly for as few as three minutes can decrease the amount of oxygen by 30% to the heart and the brain. Scientific Relaxation training necessarily begins with exercises to strengthen the diaphragm. Breathing with the diaphragm is found to be both calming and energizing as it brings 3 to 5 times more oxygen to the body and mind for optimal function. Learning to breathe properly is a life-skill that supports our physical and emotional well-being, helping us in our everyday lives while also providing a powerful tool for navigating life’s most challenging times.
The client learns to identify the excess tension that is present in the voluntary muscles, especially in the neck, shoulders, face and jaw. This is the way we train ourselves to stop creating more tension that would be stored in our muscles. With practice, relaxing this excess tension becomes a habit and relaxed alertness at work and in social environments become second nature.
Marylou’s ability to teach her clients the skills of progressive and differential relaxation is greatly accelerated with the assistance of EMG biofeedback. This is a simple and non-invasive tool that lets the clients know when they are tensed or relaxed.
– Joseph Wolpe, MD