The only proven way to reverse the effects of chronic hypothalamic stress-effect.
Because I have received many requests for clarification of what "Skilled Relaxation" is about, I am offering this:
Biofeedback research, over the past 20 years, has demonstrated that the common denominator, which determines the effectiveness of ALL types of relaxation techniques, is that the technique must produce an Alpha or Theta rhythm in the brain. It seems that, when the brain rhythms are 4-12 cycles/second (cps), the body/mind discharges the stored readiness of "fight or flight stress-effect" 24 times faster than sleep does.
The usual, awake, thinking rhythm is Beta (14-20 cps). The asleep rhythm, when muscular control is lost, is Delta (2-4 cps). Alpha is 8-12 cps while Theta is 4-8 cps. Students of expanded brain function ascribe different effects to different rhythms. If you want to get into it, I would suggest you read The Awakened Mind by Maxwell Cade and Nona Coxhead, published by Delacorte Press; as well as Megabrain by Michael Hutchison, published in 1986 by Beech Tree Books. Although these are probably out of print, your library will be able to find you a copy through their electronic lending network.
For our purposes here, suffice it to say: it matters not a whit what technique you learn to use. Unless it produces "The Relaxation Response (4-12 cps)", it will not do all the wonderful things that you have been hearing about that have been ascribed to "skilled relaxation." Biofeedback, Meditation (all forms), Self Hypnosis, Silva Mind Training, Autogenics, Breathing Techniques, etc. are commonly effective forms you should include in your consideration. Herbert Benson, MD, from Harvard Medical School, has brilliantly described The Relaxation Response in his book by that name; if you need to know more about what the Conventional Medical System is being forced to finally acknowledge.
The only way yet known to discharge the chronic stress-effect storage, which is behind so many of the chronic, so far Conventional Medically unexplained diseases, is to discharge the garbage faster than it is being accumulated. See my explanation under Modern Medical Interpretation of Stress here on the web site. The only technique proven to do this is to evoke the 24-1 advantage of the 8-12 cps brain rhythm 20 minutes twice a day. Even with this advantage, it takes the average person in this culture 6-12 months to discharge the majority of this "constant readiness". That is not to say that people will not see great benefits MUCH sooner than that. However, to get permanent reversal of many chronic disorders, most must get back "far enough from the edge of the cliff" to allow the body/mind to heal itself.
One of the great benefits of BIOFEEDBACK is that it can scientifically establish whether YOUR technique is producing the Alpha or Theta rhythm. That way you don't have to waste your time practicing something for months before finding out that it isn't working.
The most effective self-help book to learn these techniques isThe Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, Edited by Davis, Eschelman and McKay, published continuously since 1980 by New Harbinger.
To more fully understand how this mechanism is related to many common chronic conditions, you should consider getting a copy of my book, Saving Yourself from the Disease-Care Crisis, which is designed for this purpose.