How to Practice Autogenic Therapy

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Autogenic training is a self-guided relaxation technique that can aid in stress management and overall well-being. Discover the benefits of autogenic training and how to practice this type of meditation.


What Is Autogenic Training?

Autogenic training (AT) or autogenic therapy is a visualization-based mind-body relaxation technique. To engage in autogenic training, a person concentrates on a physical sensation or specific body part to induce relaxation. This self-hypnosis focuses on muscle heaviness, body temperature, and tension release. To induce relaxation, practitioners can use verbal phrases.

In the 1920s, German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz developed this method at his neurology and psychiatry practice in Berlin, before it was widely accepted by medical and mental health professionals. This physical and sensory experience, among other things, can help relieve tension headaches and sleep problems, as well as lower blood pressure.


How Does Autogenic Training Work?

To induce relaxation, autogenic training encourages communication between the mind and body. A person's biofeedback and relaxation response can be strengthened with regular practice. Because hypnosis is relieved passively from within, autogenic therapy, like other mindfulness meditation techniques, does not use pre-recorded audio resources such as guided meditations or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).


What Are the Benefits of Autogenic Training?

Autogenic training is said to have several benefits that can improve a person's quality of life. A deep sense of relaxation can have a positive impact on the autonomic nervous system, assisting with stress management and increasing happiness. The ability of AT to manage stress is responsible for the majority of its physical and mental effects. Stress reduction can aid in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, and other sleep disorders.


How to Practice Autogenic Training

Practitioners can use this self-regulation technique either individually or in groups. Follow these steps to practice autogenic therapy:

1. Get into a comfortable position. Find a place where you can unwind without being distracted. You can relax your muscles by lying down or sitting in a comfortable position.

2. Take a deep breath. Begin by taking a few slow, deep breaths. Introduce a phrase or mantra to yourself, such as "I am calm," and repeat it to yourself as you settle into your breathing.

3. Center on your arms. Begin with your right arm and concentrate on its weight. Visualize and feel the weight of your arm while leaving it in place. Repeat a phrase about its weight at least six times, then repeat on your left arm.

4. Concentrate on your legs. Next, concentrate on your legs. Repeat to yourself a phrase about how heavy your right or left leg feels, then repeat on the opposite side. This helps to bring your physical body into focus.

5. Increase body temperature. Repeat a verbal cue about your arms and legs feeling warm once your extremities feel heavy. Concentrate on your arms and legs separately. The sensation of heat can aid in relaxation.

6. Listen to your heart rate. Pay attention to your heartbeat. You could say things like, "My heartbeat is regular and calm."

7. Relax your stomach muscles. Bring your attention to your stomach and concentrate on releasing tension. Say something about your stomach being warm.

8. Visualize your forehead. Concentrate on your forehead and repeat a verbal cue about its coolness. To end the practice, say something like, "I feel calm."

It should be noted that autogenic training can aggravate symptoms of severe mental illnesses and psychotic disorders. Consult a professional healthcare provider before engaging in this practice.

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