Autogenic Training: A recipe for ultimate relaxation

Health,
November, 2020

There are many things in our lives we would like to have time for. I dare to say that we all have a list of activities we would love to do but we're too busy so we can’t find any time for it. These activities then very often remain mere desires. There is an often repeated wish ‘I would like to have more time to focus on a healthy lifestyle.’ I think today is the right time to fulfill this wish!

As we know, ‘being healthy’ isn’t just about eating well and exercising. It’s also pretty much about taking care of our mental health. And now, I would like to share with you an amazing way how to do that. It could only take 20 minutes a day and you would feel more relaxed, focused, and fall asleep easier at night. This miracle is called ‘Autogenic training.’

What is Autogenic training?

Autogenic training is a relaxation technique developed by Dr. J.H.Schultz. As it's written in an Arlin Cuncic article, it is a tool that could help you cope with anxiety, pain, falling asleep, and relaxation. During this technique, you follow simple instructions that will make you feel calm and released. You are step by step getting every inch of your body completely relaxed.

The process of relaxation
So, now we know a little bit about what Autogenic training is. But how does it work? What does it look like in practice?

1. Preparation
As you can read in Sara Lindberg’s article, you need to prepare for this session. Find a calm place where you won’t be disturbed, it should be a place where you feel really comfortable. Now let’s focus on your body. You can do the Autogenic training laying down or sitting up. It’s good to have a mat on the floor, so you’ll feel more comfortable. Practice relaxation in loose clothes and take off your glasses.

2. Relaxation
During the Autogenic training session, you are following verbal instructions. You perceive and quietly repeat these instructions (or just repeat them in your head.) Here is a perfect example of instructions taken from an article from goodtherapy.org:

‘I am completely calm.’ (say once)

‘My right arm is heavy’ (say six times)

‘I am completely calm’ (say once)

‘My right arm is warm’ (say six times)

‘I am completely calm’ (say once)

………….

As you can see, this relaxation exercise is sort of a routine. As this example shows, you will be focusing on each part of a body. In the same article, you can find out that Autogenic training consists of six stages.

  1. Inducing heaviness- you will follow instructions that will make your body feel pleasantly heavy.
  2. Inducing warmth- instructions leading you to feel nicely warm
  3. The heart practice- you will focus on your heartbeat
  4. The breathing practice- you will focus on your breathing
  5. Abdominal practice- instruction focusing on abdominal sensations
  6. Head practice- instructions that will make you feel the coolness of your forehead.

However, you will not find all the six stages in every Autogenic training session. Some of the guides will mainly focus on heaviness and warmth some of them will only contain two or three stages. Keep in mind that it takes time and practice to have the full benefit of this relaxation, but you shouldn’t feel bad even when you’re a beginner.

3. The end of relaxation
It’s important to end the Autogenic training properly. Among ending instructions you can find those who will focus on perceiving your body, then a deep breath, and opening your eyes.

Audio guide for Autogenic training

Start with a guide. You can find really good recordings with this technique on YouTube. If you want to start with Autogenic training, I think it’s best to find some time, listen to different records and find the one that would suit you best. Focus on a voice (and also background music) which will be guiding the relaxation. Choose a guide who will be soothing for you. Also, try to focus on the concept of relaxation. Is it too long? Too short? Is it hard for you to follow the instructions? How does relaxation make you feel? All these questions are important in a process of finding the best Autogenic training recording.

Here are my favorites:

  1. Autogenic training by Dr. Louise Montello- this is number one for me. It lasts 26 minutes, it’s understandable and the soothing music in the background helps me get relaxed even more.
  2. Autogenic training by Jenna Zoz- this record is without background music. In the beginning, you’ll get the info about relaxation and what is ahead of you. In this relaxation you don’t verbally repeat the instruction, you just think of them. It’s a little shorter than the first one.
  3. A Mini Autogenic Training Relaxation by Joanne D’Amico- this one is shorter, with nice music, nice soothing and calm voice.

What should you keep in mind?

As you can read in previously mentioned articles, if you’re seeing a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, consult the Autogenic training with them. There are diagnoses (for example heart problems, diabetes, dissociations, delusional behavior, paranoia, symptoms of psychosis) when you can’t perform the exercise because it could have negative effects on your health. Also, remember that Autogenic training should not be taken as a substitution for psychotherapy and medicine.

Do you want to make sure you’re doing it right and become a master of Autogenic training? The best thing would be to learn it from professionals who will make sure you are doing it properly, you’re feeling well and you have the best source of information and script. However, the home practiced Autogenic training can also bring you very nice results. Just stay in touch with your feelings and do what’s best for you.

Related blogs: Struggling with anxiety? Here we got you five tips on how to cope with anxiety.

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