Have you heard about Autogenic Training as a stress management or anxiety control technique? If you haven’t, you should look into it. Since I learned this stress management technique in 1977, I have been using it, with great results, for my relaxation practice.
Autogenic Training was first developed in 1928 in Germany. There has been a lot of research regarding the success of using Autogenic Training Phrases with stress/anxiety related disorders like: panic/anxiety, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, GI disorders, chronic pain, and many other health challenges that are created or made worse by stress. Most of the research and reports are written in French or German so for English speakers this technique may be less familiar. I learned about Autogenics while in training for my career in biofeedback in 1977 and have been using this technique as my personal stress management strategy ever since. It took 6-8 weeks of regular (daily) use for me to get the higher levels of benefit. The skills of relaxation and awareness require at least this amount of practice no matter which stress management technique you try…. so be patient.
Autogenic Training requires that you repeat 6 basic phrases until you feel the desired results. With practice this can be abbreviated into a much shorter period of time. Now, it takes me only about 5 minutes of repeating the phrases to get to the level of relaxation that I desire. This leaves me 10-15 minutes to enjoy the state of deep relaxation in my 15-20 minute relaxation/meditation period. The positive effects of this relaxation generally last for the whole day, at this stage of my life. The 6 basic phrases include:
Begin with a mood phrase to ‘get you in the mood to relax’ by slowly repeating… “I am at peace with myself and fully relaxed.” (Eventually, this phrase will trigger a lot of the relaxation.
1. “My right arm is heavy” (repeated at least 3 times or longer until you can feel your muscles start to relax.) Then change to, “My left arm is heavy” (repeated 3 or more times.) Then relax your legs as you repeat, “My right leg is heavy” repeat 3 or more times. Then switch to, “My left leg is heavy” repeated. Finally, repeat “My neck and shoulders are heavy.” The arms will usually be easier to relax than your legs. The neck and shoulders are generally more difficult for most people and may take as long as 6-12 weeks of practice before you get them to relax.
2. Repeat, “My right arm is warm” (repeated at least 3 or more times to allow the warmth of blood to flow more freely down your arm into your hand and fingers.) Change to, “My left arm is warm” and repeat until you feel warmth or a pulse or a tingling feeling in your hands. Then say, “My right leg is warm” and repeat. Then, “My left leg is warm” repeat. Finally, repeat, “My neck and shoulders are warm” repeat, though this may require many practice sessions.
3. The next phrase to repeat is “My heart beat is calm and regular” repeated to slow your heart rate.
4. Next phrase is “My breathing is calm and regular” repeated slowly.
5. Then say, “My stomach region is warm and calm” and repeat to relax your abdomen.
6. Last phrase to relax the muscles of your head and face is “My forehead is cool and calm” repeated until your forehead and jaw can start to relax.
The return phrase to repeat at the end is, “I am refreshed and alert” repeated and with taking a deep breath.
I will usually say the 6 relaxation phrases and then sit quietly to enjoy the relaxation before I awaken with the “return” phrase. Also, combining these phrases with temperature training biofeedback makes for powerful step before beginning an anxiety control visualization or a desensitization process.
Give it a try. I have seen this technique work very well with many people who could benefit from stress and anxiety management.
More information available on the “articles” page of the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com.