Cardiologist Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School was one of the first American doctors to break away from the mold and focus on stress as a factor in illness and to bring the spiritual practice of meditation as a way to relax mind and body. He released his bestseller, The Relaxation Response in the 1970's (updated 2009), bringing the concept of body mind health into the public eye.

The following is the technique reprinted with permission from Dr. Herbert Benson's book
The Relaxation Response pages 162-163

Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response

1.   Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

2.  Close your eyes.

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

4.  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.

5.  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.

6.  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.

* It is better to use a soothing, mellifluous sound, preferably with no meaning.
or association, to avoid stimulation of unnecessary thoughts - a mantra.