The following are some individual stories that indicate what can happen if you develop and practice the skill of the relaxation response. These are all "graduates" of the program developed by Eli Bay
Insomnia & Chronic Fatigue
Mary woke up every hour, every night for eighteen years. She had been treated by two sleep clinics in local hospitals without positive results. After four weeks of working with the relaxation exercises she was sleeping right through the night without waking even once. She looked 10 years younger.
Joseph was retired accountant who was unable to sleep more than three or four hours a night and was always tired and angry. He was hoping that the course would teach him to “power nap” so he could properly rest and recharge himself. It did. It also eliminated a shoulder problem for which he had been receiving twice weekly physiotherapy treatments for over a decade.
Rohia lived with a chronic migraine headache since she was eight years old. She said that it was impossible for anyone to understand what it was like to go through high school and university with a constant piercing pain in the head. She had been treated by neurologists and physiatrists who, using latest medicines and the technologies including CAT scans and fMRI readings, were unable to help.
When she was 26, she came to this program not expecting it would do anything for her headaches but rather to support her boyfriend who was dealing with anxiety attacks. His anxiety attacks completely subsided and, to her astonishment,
her migraines totally disappeared
Two years later they have not returned
Susan lived with a chronic headache for more than eight years. It was there 24/7. She was immensely skeptical when her physician suggested relaxation as a possible treatment. She had been to medical clinics all over North America and they weren’t able to help her.
But, since she respected her doctor and he had done the course himself, she decided to try it. She was totally stunned when, at two weeks into the program, her headache just went away. She didn’t say anything for a week thinking it wouldn’t last. It did.
Tim, a graphic artist, lived with a secret his entire life. He was unable to enter hospitals or shopping malls without experiencing terrible panic attacks which forced him to flee. When he attended Eli's program at age 38, he was skeptical that a seemingly “simplistic” relaxation strategy could help him when a variety of medications and a cognitive behavioral program at a hospital hadn't helped. But he was determined to try anything to lick this issue that embarrassed him and blocked him from moving ahead in his life.
To his astonishment, within three weeks, he reported that he was able to enter a mall and use his breathing to stay in control as he slowly walked into the centre of the mall and then out again. The following week he was able to do the same thing in a hospital. Months later, he was not just maintaining these initial changes, in his own words, he was “barreling ahead”.
Garth, for years daily jogged the same distance in 32 minutes. When his job pressures started resulting in anxiety attacks, he was surprised that this training completely eliminated these negative experiences. With his enhanced breathing capacity, he also took a full five minutes off his running time and has been able to maintain a 27 minute run for over three years.
Mike came to Eli Bay's program hoping that it might help him cope with exhaustion. He also hadn’t slept well since a traffic accident fifteen years ago that had left him with chronic back pain. In less than a month, his back pain was significantly reduced and he was getting good sleep for the first time in years. This was much more than his wildest expectations but what was equally surpising to him was the dissipation of his “seething” anger for the drunk driver that wrecked his body and killed his parents.
Mary was a medical resident who was chronically tired and mentally strained. Her sleep was never restful and she lived with chronic headaches and a troublesome eczema on her face. Within two weeks of relaxation practice, her headaches disappeared and she reported that her concentration began to dramatically improve.
She said that during rounds the teaching doctors would constantly bombard the residents with questions and that she suddenly began to respond with unusual ease and mental clarity. She said that “It was like the cobwebs were washed out of my brain”. Within several weeks, her eczema also improved to the point where she no longer felt constantly embarrassed meeting new doctors and patients.
Mike was high performance pilot in training. He was selected from over 10,000 applicants to become a RAF pilot of a Harrier Jet. His only remaining hurdle was that he experienced “white coat hypertension”. Whenever his blood pressure was tested, his anxiety forced it to spike. He passed all of the tests and his last obstacle to final acceptance was his “high” blood pressure issue. Having failed the BP test twice, he was given one more opportunity to demonstrate that it was under control.
Three weeks prior to the final test, he started Eli Bay's program on the recommendation of his family physician. His dream career was on the line and he gave the course his best effort. He came to the last session with a gigantic smile on his face and announced that he was able to control his anxiety and blood pressure in the test and that he was accepted as a fighter pilot.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Roberta was diagnosed with elevated blood pressure and her physician wanted to put her on hypertension medication. Saying that she was 78 years old and has not needed medication until now, she asked her doctor if there was a possibility that relaxation training might lower her blood pressure enough to permit her to stay off medication.
Her doctor said that it was possible but that she would likely be dead before it worked well enough for her. She insisted that she try it first.
Two weeks into the program, she went to her physician to get her blood pressure measured. The doctor took a measurement and frowned. He then asked her to stand, and took another measurement. He frowned again. She said that the doctor looked up at her and said that her blood pressure had dropped 10 points (mmHg).
Bill, a foreman for a medium sized business, worked for the same employer for over fifteen years. Just two years before retiring, he became deeply depressed and unable to work. He sat at home lifeless and uncommunicative for months. His son, begged his father to attend Eli Bay's course and because of his son’s persistence and support, Bill reluctantly attended. Within three weeks, his depression had improved so much that he was back at work. The owner said that he thought that Bill was “gone” for good. So did Bill. The depression never returned and Bill was able to work until he retired.
Ryan, 16 years old, was forced to drop out of high school because of his combination of anxiety and depression. His high school guidance counselor suggested to his mother that he should try relaxation as a possible therapy. Three weeks into the program he was able to return to school and was symptom free for the rest of the year.
Effect on The Immune System
Eleven people participated in Eli Bay's program in exchange for samples of blood taken before and after five weekly relaxation sessions. The blood was cultured and analyzed by Dr. Reg Gorczinski, PhD, a well known cancer researcher as part of a pilot study to see how relaxation could influence the immune system. He found that natural killer (NK) cells and interleukins, the two best indicators of the strength of the immune system, doubled, on average, for the whole group after four weeks. One woman’s NK cells and interleukins increased by 580% after the first session.
For many years Jennifer had spent over $100 a month on inhalers for her asthma. Three weeks into the course she no longer needed her inhaler at all. Ten years later she has only had to use her inhaler once.
Susan, a market researcher, suffered from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for over a year. Conventional medical treatment did not work for her. She tried Chinese Medicine which worked for a short while but then stopped. She came to Eli Bay's program thinking that relaxation training might offer her some help but was completely astonished to discover that within four weeks her IBS totally disappeared. Eight months later it not only had not returned but she reported that her allergy to wheat had also disappeared.
Toma was a retired professor who suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes and an aterial fibrillation. He announced that he was skeptical that relaxation could have any benefit on his medical conditions. He was a scientist who valued the importance of measurements. he was told that he didn’t have to “believe” for the program to work but that he had to do the practice, that he should approach it like an “experiment” with an open but critical attitude.
He was invited to share his measurements as he went through the training process. Within two weeks, he reported that his high blood pressure had returned to the normal range. By the end of the fourth week, his blood sugar dropped from 14.8, a serious diabetic condition, to 6.5, a normal range, and he was able to control his fibrillations. The only change he made to his treatment and lifestyle was doing the relaxation exercises. Eighteen months later he was maintaining these improvements to his health.
Fred, a hospital executive in his 60’s reported that by working with the relaxation over a period of two and a half years, he longer required his arthritis medication which he had been taking for over eight years.
End Note: The skill of self regulation - the Relaxation Response - has the simple but profound effect of allowing the body’s innate healing system to come to the fore. Over 75% of all health issues and illnesses are directly related to stress. If an individual learns to "self-regulate" their stress levels, they are enabling the body to restore, to heal. The effect of the relaxation response is global in that it has a positive effect on every cell, organ and system of the body and mind. This is why self regulation of stress can have such profound effects on so many different stress related conditions.