Autogenic Training is a powerful mind-body technique, which is used to help people to reach deep levels of relaxation and thereby tap into the healing powers of the body. It was originally developed by the German neuropsychologist, Prof. Johannes Schultz, in the 1930's, and it has applications in stress-related conditions, such as anxiety, phobias and insomnia, as well as more widely in physical disorders, such as angina, asthma and diabetes. The name 'autogenic' derives from the Greek 'auto' (self) and 'genos' (family or origin), and it essentially indicates a form of training which originates within the self. Typically people attend a series of classes in order to learn how to use Autogenic Training, but thereafter they are able to apply the method for themselves whenever they wish.
Key Elements of Autogenic Training
Autogenic Training is a form of self-hypnosis, and it consists of a series of visualisation exercises, in which one focuses on some part of the body, e.g. the right arm and then concentrates on the feeling of heaviness and warmth in that arm. One accompanies this by repeating statements to oneself, such as "My right arm is heavy" and "My right arm is warm". Progressively, other parts of the body are included in these exercises, such as the legs and the neck and shoulders. Other elements of Autogenic Training include focusing on the heartbeat and breathing and the use of positive affirmations, such as "I am confident and creative." A primary purpose of the training is to bring the mind into an optimum mental state, described as 'passive concentration'. This appears to be very similar to the state of 'relaxed concentration', achieved when developing one's Inner Game.
It is generally considered advisable to learn the techniques of Autogenic Training by attending classes given by a suitably qualified trainer. However, failing this it is possible to learn from a book, such as:
- Kermani, Dr Kai (1996) Autogenic training: the effective holistic way to better health, Souvenir Press
For further information about Autogenic Training see:
- Autogenic Training
British Autogenic Society
Autogenic Training by Christa Hall-Sanford
It's a cheap, effective, virtually risk-free treatment for stress - so why aren't more of us trying autogenic training? by Edzard Ernst