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Relaxation With Autogenics

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 27 Feb 2012 | comments*Discuss
Relaxation Autogenics Autogenic Therapy

Way back in the 1920s, Dr Johannes Schulz developed a technique which he called “autogenics” in his native Germany. Designed to be a type of self-help method to promote intense relaxation, it revolves around six types of mantras, which are repeated to bring about largely involuntary responses in the central nervous system.

As a self-help method of stress relief and relaxation, autogenics, also known as Autogenic Therapy (AT) is now practiced all over the world. Its aim is to use relaxation and visualisation techniques to give the brain control over bodily functions which are usually considered to be involuntary, such as the metabolism and heartbeat.

By helping mind and body work better together, AT is thought to help people achieve emotional balance and better health. Other reported benefits include improved efficiency at work, better concentration, and improved performance in sports.

How it Works

Autogenic Therapy is easy to learn and requires no physical acumen whatsoever. Schulz’s six mantras are repeated over and over until the practitioner gets in a type of self-hypnotic or “autogenic” state. Over time, they teach the body to respond in a way so that eventually the responses become automatic.

The idea is that the practitioner can then address different problem areas in the body, using other mantras which are called “intentional formulas”. So the mantras bring about physiological changes, while the intentional formulas focus on bringing about psychological ones.

The Six Formulas

These six simple formulas, which originally were conceived in German, do not have to be spoken in one specific way. All that matters is that the practitioner repeats them over and over, usually in the same order. They are:

  • 1.“I am at peace,” or “I am calm and relaxed,” or whatever feels right for you.
  • 2.“My arms and legs are heavy.” This is to encourage muscular relaxation, and if thinking of an appropriate image is helpful, then use it.
  • 3.“My arms and legs are warm.” This aids in blood circulation.
  • 4.“I am breathing well,” or “It breathes me.” This is spoken in order to show how a deep sense of relaxation can aid in controlled breathing.
  • 5.“Pleasant warmth is radiating all over my abdomen.” This is to bring a feeling of warmth and calm to the internal core of the body
  • 6.“My face (or forehead) is cool.” This brings a contrast to the warmth of the rest of the body, which is supposed to intensify the autogenic state the practitioner is in.

Treatment Plan

If you are interested in learning more about AT or practicing it yourself, the best way is to take a training course or contact a qualified autogenics teacher for one-on-one lessons. The autogenic formulas are usually taught by a teacher over a period of weeks, with the practitioner fully mastering one before moving on to the next.

You can practice autogenics while sitting, lying down or partially reclining, whatever is comfortable for you, and no special attire is needed. You can do it whenever you have time, wherever you are, as long as you can find a quiet, peaceful and comfortable place to do it in.

Studies have shown that as a calming and de-stressing technique, autogenics can work for many people. It has been used by heart attack patients, people hoping to reduce their blood pressure, and even patients with conditions such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines.

By practicing autogenic exercise and repeating the simple phrases or mantras, many people have been able to find a place of calm. Their heart rate, breathing and metabolism all slow down, their muscles relax and tensions disappear. Like with more conventional forms of meditation, they feel better, calmer and more able to face the problems in their lives.

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