In this 25th anniversary edition of a book that has sold nearly 4 million copies, Dr. Herbert Benson provides a new foreword where he brings us up-to-date about the positive developments accruing to the medical establishment and the well-being of millions of Americans from the Relaxation Response. This healthcare revolution was set in motion in 1975 when Benson posited that high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and the incidence of stroke could be lessened by mental focusing techniques developed over the centuries by Eastern and Western religions. This was mind/body science's coming out party.

The four basic elements of the Relaxation Response are quiet environment, a mental device (a repeated sound, word, or prayer or an object to gaze on), a passive attitude (not worrying about how well you are doing or the inevitable distractions), and a comfortable position. Eighty percent of Dr. Benson's patients chose to calm themselves through prayer for 20 minutes or so daily. Follow-up studies showed this self-care technique helped people suffering from hypertension, migraine headaches, cardiac rhythm irregularities, premenstrual syndrome, anxiety, and even depression. Dr. Benson estimates that a full third of Americans now regularly practice the technique that elicits the Relaxation Response through an altered state of consciousness.

The author is now head of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to promoting worldwide health and well-being. Despite the experience of the past 25 years, he believes that the medical establishment still can do more to put into practice the self-care techniques that could save over $50 billion invested in health care expenditures each year.