The Power of Autogenics
Surprisingly, very few people seem to be aware of the benefits of Autogenic Training. Hopefully, this web site will enlighten many thousands of people to the physical and physiological benefits of Autogenics.
Susan Jennifer Grace, CH,CI, MPNLP
Who developed Autogenic Training, and what exactly is it?
Autogenic training is a technique for relaxation and self-regulation that was developed in Germany by Dr. Johannes Schulz in the 1920s. He published his first medical book on it in 1932. It was popularized around the world by his student Dr. Wolfgang Luthe who was the first to write about it in English. Dr. Luthe eventually moved to Canada where he taught Autogenics in Montreal and Vancouver.
Autogenics is a medical, therapeutic technique for relaxation and self-regulation of the body. It uses a series of six standard formulas repeated over and over in a self-hypnosis state to bring about physiological responses in the body through the autonomic nervous system. A person who is practicing Autogenics goes into a relaxed state and then mentally repeats and focuses on these six formulas, in order. The attention is turned to different parts of the body, and the body learns to physiologically respond to the repeated formulas. The subconscious mind is the seat and control of the autonomic nervous system. AT is referred to as a "homeostatic" or "self-regulating" technique because it allows a practitioner to have a positive, conscious, intentional effect on problems the body is having, especially problems that might have a psychosomatic cause or might be an effect of stress.
After going into a deeply relaxed Autogenic state using the standard formulas, practitioners can use positive affirmations or suggestions about areas of life they want to affect. These are called intentional formulas. There are the six standard formulas and then flexibility to use any intentional formula or affirmation that would be suitable to help with a problem or goal. By practicing autogenic training daily, or ideally more than once a day, the body learns to respond to the formulas and bring about beneficial effects. It can take six to eight weeks of learning and practicing before the body begins to learn these responses.
AT also goes on to include some additional formulas that are known as the advanced exercises or the meditative exercises. These formulas have more of a psychological orientation where the six standard formulas have more of a physiological orientation.
Is Autogenics related to hypnosis, self-hypnosis, meditation, or biofeedback?
Autogenics is definitely a form of self-hypnosis. Dr. Schulz developed the six standard formulas by observing patients in hypnosis and attempting to standardize or simplify some of the effects that they seemed to commonly share. He understood that his patients had a great capacity to therapeutically affect their own minds and bodies through directed self-hypnosis.
Autogenics is similar to meditation in that it is a relaxation technique taught to somebody and then practiced privately, with eyes closed and with a set defined series of phrases and thoughts that are mentally repeated. But it's different from meditation in that it intentionally focuses on different parts of the body and progresses from one formula to another over a course of several minutes.
It's closely associated with biofeedback because it is a mechanism that allows the conscious mind to reach out to the subconscious control of the autonomic nervous system. But unlike biofeedback, it doesn't use any external feedback system to let the practitioner know when the desired effect is being achieved. Instead it simply allows the mental processes of the individual to learn from the physiological responses of the body.
Where is Autogenics used, and what are its benefits?
Autogenics is very popular and widely used in Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, and Japan. In North America itís not well known at all. In Europe it is often taught in public classes or by psychologists or counseling professionals. It takes about six to eight weeks to learn it. It is considered to be potentially beneficial to anybody except the most severely disturbed psychotic patients.
Autogenics has been used successfully with children as well as adults.
Hundreds of medical studies have been conducted to document its effects on various physical and emotional problems. Luthe wrote that this technique of mental contact with various body parts helps the body's natural systems use their inherent potentials for self-regulatory adjustment.
Is there any evidence that Autogenics has medical benefits?
Absolutely. Many medical studies have been conducted and published, particularly in German-speaking countries. Autogenic Training has been used to treat: insomnia, stress and stress-related illnesses, anxiety, digestive disorders, chronic headaches, allergies, tics, high blood pressure, speech disorders, eating disorders, IBS, chronic back pain and many other disorders and syndromes.
What are the Autogenics formulas and what are the physiological responses that might be achieved from practicing Autogenics?
There are six formulas in the basic Autogenic Training and they are usually done in a certain order. The formulas are phrases or thoughts which are mentally repeated in a relaxed state, in order to suggest certain physiological responses. The exact words of the formulas are not important, especially since they were not developed in English in the first place. They can be repeated any way that is comfortable for the person practicing the technique. Here is a quick explanation of the six formulas.
The person starts by mentally repeating "I am at peace" or "I am relaxed and calm" in order to get into a basic relaxed state with eyes closed.
- The first formula is for heaviness in the arms and legs. The practitioner may mentally repeat, "My arms and legs are heavy," for two or three minutes. The physiological response for this formula is deep muscular relaxation in the arms and legs.
In this formula, as in all of the other formulas, the practitioner uses any image that is appropriate to them in order to experience the physiologial response. For example, thinking or imagining an arm or a leg being "limp like a rag doll and heavy as lead" will encourage the feeling of heaveiness into the limbs. It is also important for the practitioner to feel the words rather than just saying them.
- The second formula is for warmth in the arms and legs. The phrase mentally repeated may be, "My arms and legs are pleasantly warm" for two or three minutes. The response in the arms and legs is pleasant warmth caused by vascular dilation, expansion of the blood vessels in the circulatory system.
- The third formula touches the heartbeat. The formula may be "My heart beat is strong and calm." The focus of attention is turned to the beating heart, and the practitioner may find that the heartbeat slows down, or becomes more regular, or becomes stronger.
- The fourth formula is for breathing. The phrase often used is "It breathes me." This conveys that the Autogenic state of deep relaxation is in control of the breathing. Breathing may become deeper or slower as the Autogenic state reaches to the subconscious mind with the suggestion "It breathes me." An alternate formulation is "My breathing is slow and easy." This is not a breathing exercise or yoga, and the intent is not to alter the breathing, but instead to give control of the breathing over to the autogenic state.
- The fifth formula brings warmth to the internal core of the body and the visceral organs in the abdominal area. The repeated mental phrase may be "Pleasant warmth is radiating across my abdomen." The person practicing AT can visualize that there is a little ball of sunshine at the solar plexus, and it is sending warmth and light radiating outward across all the internal organs of the chest and abdomen. The solar plexus is the place where many nervous system pathways come together just below the rib cage, so this formula brings a physiological response of warmth generated from this nerve center.
- The sixth and final formula is "My face is cool" or "My forehead is cool." The cool feelings of the face and forehead contrast with the warmth in the limbs and the core of the body, intensifying the depth of the autogenic state.
- At this point, when the body is in a deeply relaxed self-regulating state, there may be a series of suggestions or affirmations that are intended to deal with specific problems or motivations. Remember these affirmations are called the intentional formulas.
- Finally, the autogenic session is ended by flexing the arms and legs, breathing deeply, and opening the eyes.
How long does it take to master the Autogenics formulas?
Formulas are usually taught one at a time over six to eight weeks and practiced daily so the body can learn the physiological responses. A learner should usually master one formula before going on to the next one.
You should repeat the formulas to yourself, or try to hear them as thoughts in your own mind. Allow yourself to imagine or visualize the sensation in each formula. Use any mental images that make sense to you. If you have other thoughts that distract you, just allow them to drift away and return your thoughts to the AT formula.
Autogenics is a very slow, repetitive, tantric experience. Initially and until the skills have been mastered, it is perfectly fine to simply imagine the physiological sensations.
Susan is a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, an accredited National Guild of Hypnotists Certified Hypnosis Instructor, a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, an Autogenics Practitioner/Trainer and a Life Management Coach. As well, Susan has taken many hours of counseling training through various volunteer organizations such as crisis centers and women's intervention centers.
An accomplished speaker, she successfully presented a seminar on Autogenics at the 2006 National Guild of Hypnotists annual convention in Massachusetts.
She has completed specialty courses and professional development training in pediatric hypnosis, pain management, smoking-cessation, self-hypnosis and age regression, and continues to develop her skills in all areas of her profession, so that she can pass on the benefits of the most up-to-date techniques to her clients.
Susan is a member of the following Professional Associations:
- The National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH)
- The National Federation of Neuro-Linguistic Psychology (NFNLP)
- The International Medical & Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA)
or call (905) 827-4973.
Susan is a people-oriented former college instructor who recognizes the importance of developing a sense of trust and rapport between client and hypnotist. Her skillful approach, her professionalism, her clear sense of ethics, her instinctive abilities to assist people in reaching their goals, and her passion for hypnosis are just a few of the reasons why Susan excels in the profession of helping people.
For more information about Basic Autogenics Training and Advanced Autogenics Training, or to purchase SUSAN'S AUTOGENICS TRAINING CD
please EMAIL Autogenics
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