Have you ever heard of autogenic training? This term is extremely popular today, although it is not at all “young” as it may seem. For quite a long time such training has been used in psychology, and very successfully. But in recent years they have gained enormous popularity. Exactly the same as the concept of “stress” in our lives.
Are you wondering what this is all about, what the peculiarities of this kind of training are, and generally – what exactly do they train? If so, read carefully; we have specially consulted a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist.
Autogenic training – what kind of “beast” is it?
If we translate the word “autogenic” from the Latin, we get auto – itself, genos – origin. In other words, autogenic training is a therapy technique that aims to correct and work through psychosomatic, depressive and anxiety disorders.
Back in the 30s, the German psychologist Johann Schulz successfully applied them in practice, working through the problems of patients with mental illness disorders. He studied the observations of the neurologist Oskar Vogg and drew his own conclusions.
Schultz found that people exposed to hypnotism were less likely to be fatigued and to suffer from various psychosomatic disorders. According to the German’s observations, patients experienced two main sensations during autogenic training – heaviness in all members of the body and warmth.
The feeling of heaviness appeared due to muscle relaxation, and the warmth was a consequence of vasodilation and acceleration of blood flow. Schultz was so inspired by his discovery that he decided to develop a method for a person to learn to relax and achieve this sensation without medical help.
To put it even more simply, autogenic training is somewhat synonymous with self-hypnosis. However, there are still differences between the two. In self-hypnosis, the goal is what one wants to suggest to oneself. In autogenic training, the goal is to relax the body.
During autogenic training, there is a sensation that is similar to hypnosis – a person is on the verge of being awake and asleep, in a kind of trance. During this technique, the contact with the outside world is completely preserved, and it is extremely important to follow the instructions of the leader.
The main problem of the 21st century is stress. It complicates the lives of millions of people on the planet, sparing neither children nor adults. At times it is difficult for a person to cope with it on their own, they fall into despondency and depression. When a person begins to get nervous, the whole body comes under a lot of stress. The consequence is a significant increase in the strain on the blood vessels and internal organs.
The cardiovascular system is the first to be hit hard. Blood pressure rises, the heart beats faster, and this can lead to the development of all kinds of heart diseases.
The task of autogenic training is to relieve such tension. If you do it on a regular basis, then normalize the activity of the cardiac system, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and the whole body becomes light.
It would be wrong to call autogenic training an independent therapy. Rather, it is one of the components. Serious phobias you will not be able to cure with autogenic training alone, but if you do it regularly, you will find it easier to endure stressful situations.
Indications for using autogenic training:
Sleep disorders (both its over-abundance and deficiency);
Depressive and anxiety disorders;
chronic pains (for example, oncologists felt a decrease in pain during regular training);
high blood pressure, which is caused by a stressful situation, but not by somatics or physiology;
bear sickness (irritable bowel syndrome);
Who autogenic training is contraindicated:
People with dissociative or psychotic disorders;
Patients with diabetes – during training, blood glucose levels go down;
the elderly generation with heart pathologies.
At the initial stage, each workout should take place exclusively under the supervision of a professional. The fact is that some people during autogenic training may have anxiety, panic attacks, dizziness. This is explained both by the fear of losing control over what is happening, and by physiological peculiarities.
Humans tend to think that if they are in control of the situation, then they are in no danger. During training, control is lost and panic sets in – something is sure to happen. For this reason, there should be a specialist nearby who will clearly and calmly explain – why fears arise and that they should not be feared.
Skeptics see autogenic training as a way to trick more trusting people than they are. They are convinced that they do not succumb to outside influence, do not want to listen to someone else’s instructions. However, such people completely forget that in essence, autogenic training is not the same as giving control to someone else. On the contrary, one learns to relax and control one’s own body.
One has to learn to relax, to relax the body in order to learn to take control of one’s own sensations.
Principle of Autogenic Training
To enter the autogenic state, you have to sit comfortably and close your eyes. You can sit, or you can lie down more comfortably – it’s up to you. It is important to fully concentrate on your own physical sensations. No one and nothing should disturb you, distract you. But do not force yourself to relax – nothing will work. The autogenic state is a passive process.
In the classic version, autogenic training is divided into 2 stages. The first is body work and relaxation, the second is visualization. It is extremely important that you learn to keep the sequence of alternation of stages – you cannot start with the second one and go to the first one.
It contains six exercises designed to teach one to direct one’s attention to those parts of one’s body in which it is necessary to arouse any sensations.
The first exercise is to concentrate on the sensations of heaviness in the limbs.
Say to yourself in a calm and quiet confident voice: “My left arm is getting heavier. My right hand is getting heavier. Both my arms are heavy. My left leg is getting heavier. My right leg is getting heavier. My legs are getting heavy. My legs and arms are heavy. I am completely calm.”
Each of these statements should be said six times.
The second exercise is to concentrate on the feeling of warmth in the extremities
Say to yourself confidently and calmly, “There is warmth flowing in my left arm. There is warmth flowing in my right arm. Warmth is flowing on my hands. Warmth is flowing through my right leg. There is warmth flowing through my left leg. There is warmth flowing through my feet. There is warmth in my feet and hands. Repeat each statement six times.
The third exercise is the concentration on the sensations in the heart area.
Say in a calm voice six times: “My heart beats calmly and evenly.
Fourth exercise – concentration on breathing
Repeat six times in a monotone calm voice: “I breathe easy. My breathing is calm and even.
Fifth exercise – concentration on the feeling of warmth in the solar plexus
Repeat in a calm voice six times the phrase: “Heat flows in my belly.
Sixth exercise – concentration on the feeling of a coldness in the frontal area
Say monotonously and calmly six times: “My forehead has become cool.
The last exercise is aimed at combating the headache. You need about 40 minutes to do the six exercises.
At this stage of autogenic training you need to visualize. There are no clear instructions – call up in your mind those pictures that relax you. For example, most often people imagine a forest, the sea, or a beach.
All the wording in this stage becomes concrete – they should be fixed on the quality that you want to develop in yourself. For example, to gain confidence.
How to come out of an autogenic state
The exit from the autogen should be measured. Often, a person is asked to listen to external sounds, move his limbs slightly, breathe in air, and slowly open his eyes. Do not change the sequence.
If you want autogenic training to be beneficial and effective, try to tune in. You must have an incentive.
Experts recommend taking a course of 8 weeks, 1 day a week training under the supervision of a professional, the rest – on your own.
Do not expect a quick effect, because it is the same workout, in fact, as rocking muscles. However, with the proper approach, the result will be positive.