Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tragopan: Steps to elicit the relaxation response, per Herbert Benson MD, Quakers, Nontheist f/Friends and a de facto relaxation response in Meeting, Relaxation response in warm water and at Harbin

Hi Spiny and Nontheist Friends, 

Here are steps to elicit the relaxation response, per Herbert Benson MD - 

"Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response

Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

Close your eyes.

Deeply relax all your muscles,
beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.
Keep them relaxed.

Breathe through your nose.
Become aware of your breathing.
As you breathe out, say the word, "one"*,
silently to yourself. For example,
breathe in ... out, "one",- in .. out, "one", etc.
Breathe easily and naturally.

Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm.
When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes,
at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened.
Do not stand up for a few minutes.

Do not worry about whether you are successful
in achieving a deep level of relaxation.
Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.
When distracting thoughts occur,
try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them
and return to repeating "one."
With practice, the response should come with little effort.
Practice the technique once or twice daily,
but not within two hours after any meal,
since the digestive processes seem to interfere with
the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.

* or any soothing, mellifluous sound, preferably with no meaning.
or association, to avoid stimulation of unnecessary thoughts."

Benson was trying to understand meditation scientifically at Harvard in the late 1960s and early '70s, and wrote a book in 1972 with this same name. He added a few knowledge-aspects to the biology of meditation in the scientific literature, as well as naming-aspect, with a lot more research ahead. 

As I read through these steps, I see a lot of this happening in Quaker Meeting, almost naturally, through meeting as Friends do, and probably over 350 years. The 'meditation' word could include the idea of focusing in easing and these inner releasing actions. 

I appreciate the focus here on the biological, via symbols, and away from the religious, spiritual or the word 'worship,' although the relaxation response meditation, or inner easing biological action, doesn't seem exclusive to Friendly or NtF understandings, or sharings. 

Here's a "Relaxation_Response" wiki, subject page at wiki, World University and School - (was - - for open teaching and learning, and with growing resources. Check out its links, too, for related wiki subjects at WUaS - . 

Would you, Spiny, or any NtFs, be interested in an online Quaker Meeting, social relaxation response meditation opportunity with sharing, for around 15 minutes, in a Google + group video Hangout perhaps one Saturday or Sunday, 7:45 am Pacific Time (California time) as an experiment? (This fairly symbolically engaged NtF email list is already quite a light-filled and digitally enabled, with NtF Quaker Meeting-parallels).

It's great to see what comes up on this email list, and it might be interested to see what emerges in a group video Meeting. :)

Friendly regards, 


Hi Spiny and Friends, 

Yes, I enjoy sitting daily (in the manner of Friends and NtFs), first thing after rising, but call it a relaxation response meditation, which I also think of Friends' Meeting as eliciting, de facto and as biology, over 350 years, in Quaker Meeting, - and in NtF senses too. I also sit similarly in the Harbin Hot Springs' warm pool (about which I'm revising a 400 page ethnographic manuscript with a virtual world component, including plans for visiting Harbin in digital goggles while, for example, soaking in one's own bathtub, to elicit a relaxation response meditation) while I'm doing ongoing anthropological field work, in this manner. 

Would anyone among us Nontheist Friends be interested in an online NtF called Quaker Meeting in a Google + group video Hangout, perhaps even daily, around 7:30 am Pacific Time? I would send the G+ Hangout URL to this list, and people could join the video conference NtF Quaker Meeting as they so choose. 

I'm posting below an email I shared on March 29, 2013 with this list in an email thread called "Love" begun by Glenn Hull (on March 23), with more about this relaxation response mediation as well as love, and some of the effects of daily sitting, and ways in which love emerges from this for me. Also in this thread in another email, I shared (on May 13 and below) about other online Quaker Meetings for the purpose of the email thread. 

With NtF F/friendly greetings, 

Nontheist Friends,

I'm very glad this NtF thread emerged - thanks, Glenn - and as my little Friends' Dalton letter contribution ( above suggests, I'm interested in the heightened, evenly wildly so, experiences of love in our bodyminds, and in its most positive senses. This email isn't about trying to change, from a NtF perspective, the Religious Society of Friends to become more loving in a variety of ways, for example, but rather to continue the conversation which Glenn began exploring aspects of the idea of love, NtF-wise.

And while the experience of love, as acceptance, and the experience of attraction, seem to be partly what you've/we've been nontheistically F/friendly writing about in these last few emails in this thread on 'love,' I'd like first to explore here more about love, attraction, sexuality and nakedness, themselves, contributing insights from my ethnographic research to this conversation. 

So, thanks for this thread ... I'm eager to explore transcendent and far-reaching love vis--a-vis NtFs in this email group, and over the years, - so that we might feel and grow love, in its positive senses, in the ways we might like, and bodymind-expandingly so. As they say at the Rainbow Gathering "We Love You," and "Loving you sister," "Loving you brother."

In my research as an anthropologist, and I'm writing the last 15, draft paragraphs (here are the first 3 1/2 draft chapters - of the last chapter 9, of my actual / virtual Harbin Hot Springs' ethnographic book, (which I'd like to publish in an academic press, with graduate students, faculty and people with nostalgia for the 1960s, as my target audiences, and have heard 'no' to a book proposal I sent out nearly a year ago from the Presses at Princeton, MIT, Harvard and Cambridge UK, and will probably try the University of California Press next; the building of a virtual Harbin in OpenSim or Second Life, or more realistic, 3D, virtual worlds, as a comparative, ethnographic field site will be the subject of my next, Harbin book), both questions of attraction and nakededness, vis-a-vis love, are explicit and implicit. Harbin Hot Springs is very much about 'hippy to the hot springs,' with naked soaking and cuddling in the warm pool occurring at least since 1972 when Ishvara, its founder who still lives on property, bought the land, ... and Harbin emerges from the 1960s as a kind of alternative place. Harbin is also two churches, - Heart Consciousness Church (HCC - since 1975), and New Age Church of Being (NACOB since 1996), both New Agey and low key as churches (and unaffiliated with any other churches), - and with relevance of the Society of Friends, including, perhaps NtFs.

Harbin is an alternative place, is countercultural in my interpretation, and is viable financially as a hot springs' retreat center (with rooms, canvas domes and camping), in a pretty little valley at the end of the road in Lake County, northern California. A lot of Harbin residents, a kind of tribe, have kind of 'turned on, tuned in and dropped out' into a pretty easy-going lifestyle and interesting community. How the '60s and '70s, hippies, and alternative culture wind their way into 2010s is one of my (central) questions in the book, and will continue to be with the making of virtual Harbin. When the Harbin cobb and bale Temple was built in 2005, some Quaker Friends (with roots in Berkeley) from the little Lake County WG and I held a silent Quaker meeting in the partially built, amazingly beautiful, Harbin Temple. 

Both questions of attraction and nakededness, vis-a-vis love, are explicit and implicit, in both my book (and my thinking). As a Darwinian, and an anthropologist, and a child of the '60s (in which 1960 year I was born) and freedom-seeking movements,  evolutionary biology, questions of socioculture, as well as thinking differently inform my thinking, in general. Love (vis-a-vis my Friends' Dalton letter), in this context, and physical, bodymind attraction, in their positive senses, including in terms of nakedness, and differentially in terms of gender, relate. And I see love and attraction connect at Harbin (which has its funkinesses) in a fascinating, unfolding way, thanks particularly to the 60s and the clothing-optional, Harbin warm pool, the other geothermally heated and cooled pools, and the Harbin pool area, in particular. (Yes, the media, religion and the modern world, throw so many questions of love, nakedness and attraction out of whack, and such never were normalized, anyway, in my interpretations).  While not air-brushed pictures of naked women perfection, you can see pictures of the pools here at Harbin's web site -

What's parallelly fascinating about the Harbin warm pool, and Friends' Meeting, in my interpretation, is the gatheredness (another term for this is the 'relaxation response,' in my interpretation, which isn't a Harbin phrase) that occurs, and which facilitates a kind of connectedness, and in which love might and does arise. (How intensely might love emerge in various qualities in our bodyminds, and agency-wise/choice-wise neurophysiologically, are other questions I'm exploring). Harbin's founder, Ishvara's not-easy-to-read book "Oneness in Living" (2002) but be another phrase for this experience. But nakedness, attraction and love all do a fascinating dance at Harbin, often in nontheistically friendly and alternative ways, at Harbin, from which I learn, and am grateful for, especially the centering-soaking and harmonizing in the clothing-optional, Harbin warm pool. A very alive, unique, easing meditationoccurs in and around the clothing-optional pool area, especially, at Harbin, thanks to the waters from the earth.

So nakedness and sexuality occur at Harbin, in a somewhat normalized way. Many of the workshops over the decades have focused on teaching intimacy. For example, HAI workshops ('Human Awareness Institute - Love, Intimacy and Sexuality' workshops), have been central at Harbin (and now take place around the world) since the early 1970s, (and which I've never taken, because I've been a little shy, even as an anthropologist with Harbin as my long-term field site, and because they cost something like $525 for a weekend these days) and while I think such are best understood as emerging from the 1960s, and the sexual revolution, I'm very appreciative that Harbin and HAI have contributed to creating a culture / milieu where people can explore such openly and freely. And Harold Dull, a Brit and a hippie, started Watsu - Water Shiatsu - as a healing, water dance form at Harbin, as well. Perhaps paralleling Friends/Quakers protests/vigils/witnesses on the grounds of conscience against societal wrongs, I'm glad Harbin has been able to create a space for such normalized living / explorations of nakedness and sexuality, and love, singularly so in this valley (but which may also emerge in a 3D virtual world), to occur, for more than 4 decades now. 

But transcendent love (including intimacy, nudity and sexuality) continues to be an ongoing focus of mine, especially in terms of neurophysiology / the biological experiences of such qualities. And while one (some people/I) can turn on Mozart's arias, Ravi Shankar's ragas or the Grateful Dead, repeatedly, and get to such neural cascades of pleasure (a quality of love I specifically am interested in, as biology) again and again, which I would call love and in most positive senses, I continue to explore various qualities of love and to how to elicit such neurophysiologies, and with caring for others and social justice and nontheistic Friendly sensibilities in mind. 

I'm very glad we NtFs are having this unfolding conversation about love. Thank you. 

Do any of you know the 4 part, beautiful round "Take the time to sit in silence" which really chimes?

With F/friendly greetings, 

Hi NtFs, 

I just wanted to repost in this thread about love (which I also shared in the form of a transcript from Sea Turtle Island's Quaker Meeting in Second Life from March 31st in this thread) opportunities for online Quaker Meeting, which perhaps NtFs might enjoy (vis-a-vis centering down, such that sometimes love emerges). I think of this email list as a kind of NtF Quaker Meeting for Sharing. 

Ripley Quaker Meeting Online Skype Meeting from England - 

Quaker Meeting on Sea Turtle Island in Second Life on Saturdays at 10 am Pacific Time - 

the online meeting for worship, London UK - 

With Friendly regards, 


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