FOR THOSE WHO LIVE UNDER STRESS FROM WORK, TRAFFIC JAMS, AND DAILY PROBLEMS (that is, all of us), there are always ways to help you relax. If you have already mastered meditation and breathing exercises, or, on the contrary, you do not like them, there is another method that can be used in almost any setting – auto-training. What is unusual in autogenic training and how to calm down and tune in the right way with their help, we found out from the experts: psychiatrist Sophia Shemyakina, sports psychologist Ksenia Poparenko and game psychotherapist, director of the Institute of Practical Psychology and Psychoanalysis Tatiana Onikova.
Is it possible to hypnotize yourself
Autogenic training is essentially a self-hypnosis method that helps regulate your mental state, relax and improve concentration and attention. This technique was proposed in the thirties of the last century by the psychiatrist and psychotherapist Johann Schultz. The doctor found that with the help of hypnosis, the patient felt muscle relaxation and heaviness in certain parts of the body. Schultz found that you can focus on your own feelings and cause certain physiological changes without hypnosis, on your own – for example, focusing on the weight of the arm helps to relax its muscles, and close attention to the feeling of warmth in the face area leads to reddening of the skin due to the expansion of blood vessels and strengthening blood flow. This is how the idea appeared to create a technique with the help of which almost everyone can independently plunge into a trance state and evoke the necessary sensations.
Autogenic training is similar to meditation or hypnosis, but it is wrong to equate these practices. Meditation can be aimed at achieving a variety of goals – from spiritual development to healing the body, and the task of autogenous training can be relaxation or concentration and composure – for example, before a competition or important negotiations. As for hypnosis, it requires two participants, and the success of the event depends not only on the hypnotist, but also on the suggestibility of the hypnotized; at the same time, auto-training is self-regulation available to everyone.
First level: relaxation
The classic auto-training technique includes two levels: relaxation and work with the body at the first level and visualization at the second. For practice, ten minutes a day is enough, but you can practice for half an hour. First, you need to immerse yourself in an autogenous state, taking a comfortable position: lie down or sit down so that your hands do not touch each other, and do not join your legs, close your eyes and breathe deeply, without being distracted by anything. You can try to imagine that all experiences go away, and the body relaxes pleasantly. After you manage to keep the feeling of calmness for more than a minute, you can proceed to the first level.
The first part of the workout is relaxation and body work. There are six basic exercises to help you focus on different parts of the body. The first two are concentration on the feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs and on the feeling of warmth in them; while in a relaxed state, you need to repeat in a calm voice: “My right hand is getting heavy. My left arm is getting heavy. My hands became heavy. My right leg is getting heavy. My left leg is getting heavy. My legs became heavy. My arms and legs became heavy, ” and then:” Warmth spreads down my right hand. Warmth spreads down my left hand. Warmth spills over my hands. Warmth spreads down my right leg. Warmth spreads down my left leg. Warmth spreads down my legs. Warmth spreads over my arms and legs. ” The following exercises are focused on the feeling of warmth in the chest (“My heart beats evenly and calmly”), breathing (“I breathe absolutely lightly”), the feeling of warmth in the stomach (” Warmth spreads over my stomach”) and the feeling of coolness in the forehead (“My forehead is cool”).
Second level: visualization
When moving to the second level, you will need to turn on your imagination. There are a lot of visualization methods. They allow you to focus on those qualities that you want to develop in yourself, and are often used in sports psychology, when you need to tune in to a certain result, work out a movement that does not work, focus on each separate stage of the path to victory. For example, for a swordsman, it may be focusing on only one thrust, which he must deliver, no matter what thoughts distract him.
Visualization helps to finally relax and disconnect from everyday worries. Usually, visualization begins with rolling your eyes, and then you need to imagine a pleasant picture in order to “relax” your consciousness – slowly floating clouds, fluttering butterflies, calm sea, a green lawn on a sunny day. Leading questions will help to facilitate the task: what time of year and day in the picture? Who is there? What colors, sounds, smells surround? What feelings arise? Another option is to present any object against a dark background, keeping its clear and unchanging image for ten minutes. With a lot of experience in auto-training, you can move on to visualizing an abstract concept, for example, happiness or love – but you need to be prepared for the fact that on the first attempts the result is unlikely to be high.
A smooth exit from the trance state is the final stage of auto-training. There is nothing difficult here: just listen to external sounds, open your eyes, stretch yourself properly in order to better feel your body, and slowly get up.
Can self-hypnosis cure disease?
According to sports psychologist Ksenia Poparenko, stress often causes a feeling of loss of support when a person stops trusting his body, because it starts to fail him – for example, does not give the desired results in training. At such a moment, it is especially useful to turn to the body, listen to it, feel how muscles relax, how deep and calm breathing can be. Relieving stress is one of the main tasks of auto-training. And if this workout becomes consistent, the chances of improving well-being by regaining self-confidence are quite high. It is important to remember that the training should be regular, and the results will not be noticeable immediately, and do not get upset if something does not work out – the feeling of despair will definitely not help you to relax and solve the existing problems.
Stress plays a role in diseases ranging from shortness of breath, headaches and insomnia to heart disease, digestive problems, sleep disturbances and panic attacks. Of course, eliminating stress alone will not cure a serious illness, but it can be part of a comprehensive therapy; in addition, serenity and relaxation can simply improve the quality of life by improving mood. This is a good way of psychoprophylaxis for those who are often nervous, but you definitely should not expect that with the help of auto-training it will be possible to get rid of serious phobias. Self-training cannot be used to treat acute conditions when more serious interventions are needed – for example, medication.