Progressive Relaxation Meditation

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How can Progressive Relaxation Meditation help you?

When practiced regularly, Progressive Relaxation Meditation (or Progressive Muscle Relaxation – PMR) may help you manage the physical effects of stress. Research has also found that it has therapeutic benefits for conditions like:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Migraines
  • Sleep Issues
  • Anxiety, Depression, Stress, Anger
  • Neck and Low Back Pain
  • TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Issues (HealthLine)
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 Progressive Relaxation Meditation is a method that helps relieve tension—including an aching back, neck pain, anxiety, stress, etc. When you have some kind of stress in your life, one of the ways your body responds is with muscle tension. 

In Progressive Muscle Relaxation, you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and you relax them as you breathe out. You work on your muscle groups in a certain order: hands, wrists and forearms, biceps and upper arms, shoulders, forehead, around the eyes and bridge of the nose, cheeks and jaws, around the mouth, back of the neck, front of the neck, chest, back, stomach, hips and buttocks, thighs, and lower legs and feet. 

When your body is physically relaxed, it is much easier to release anxiety and tension. (University of Michigan)

Progressive Relaxation Meditation or Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is an anxiety-reduction technique first introduced by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1930s. The technique involves alternating tension and relaxation in all of the body’s major muscle groups.

If you suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), your muscles are probably tense quite often. By practicing PMR, you will learn how a relaxed muscle feels different from a tense muscle. PMR is often used along with other Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques such as Systematic Desensitization. However, practicing the technique alone will give you a greater sense of control over your body’s anxiety response.

If you practice this technique correctly, you may even end up falling asleep. If so, congratulate yourself on obtaining such a deep level of relaxation, and for the work that you did up to that point.

The suggested order to move through your body is as follows: forehead, jaw, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, buttocks, legs, and feet. Enjoy the feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body. Continue to breathe slowly and evenly.

Progressive Relaxation Meditation was created as ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)’ by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s. It was based on the theory that physical relaxation can promote mental relaxation.

Jacobson found that you can relax a muscle by tensing and then releasing it. He also discovered that doing so can relax the mind. PMR provides a framework for achieving this state of relaxation—by working on one muscle group at a time in a specific pattern. This allows you to notice the tension in that specific area.

It’s also essential to tense each muscle group before relaxing. This action emphasizes the sense of relaxation in the area.

The goal is to release tension from your muscles, while helping you recognize what that tension feels like.

Explore the Research

We believe you should have access to high-quality research to help you make informed health decisions. Below are four trusted databases you can use as tools to expand your healthcare knowledge.