Welcome to the second session of the Autogenics training course offered by us.(Make sure you read our introduction to autogenics.)
Hopefully you have had a chance to play with the warm-up technique a bit and have seen how a light touch and going easy on yourself is the best way to proceed with any higher mental pursuits.
My fellow baby boomers might remember the mentalist Kreskin. Aside from demonstrating mental techniques on his TV show, he was also involved with psychology research programs at Seton Hall College in New Jersey. He had access to Soviet reports on mind training and made a detailed study of athletic programs. He believed that the Russians had experimented with mind power in athletics from the 1940's onward.
"It has meant their gradual superiority over the past years in the summer and winter Olympic Games and other world sporting events", he says. The East Germans, according to Kreskin, have also instituted these programs in their nation-wide sports complexes.
Performance Anxiety can cripple sports performance. Whether it is the start of a golf tournament or public speaking, most athletes and performers know the following symptoms:
1. Sweaty hands
2. Heart racing
3. Chest tightening
4. Shallow breathing
5. Fear of failure
6. Stomach tightening
These physical symptoms announce performance anxiety. Symptoms such as these can interfere or can even ruin a performance if the athlete does not recognize these symptoms early and adequately address them. When the athlete or performer believes he can harness performance anxiety and executes the intervention, then he is more able to perform at the level of his physical expertise.
Many Soviet sports scientists came to believe the average athlete doesn't realize half his or her potential performance if brain power isn't used.
When you teach the brain to "command" the body, then all the body's organs are mobilized to work together in the most effective way.
These methods of state management have been streamlined for simple step-by-step practice that takes just a few minutes each day. No special equipment is needed. No strenuous physical exercises. No particular effort. No special belief in it. Practice and imagination are the two keys.
First Exercise -- Heaviness
Spend two to three minutes on the warm-up (Relaxation Mask and Cycle of Breathing). Then move right into the exercises.
You are learning to arouse a delicious feeling of heaviness in your body. Begin with your right arm (if left-handed, start with that arm). Silently, meaningfully repeat the formula...
My right arm is getting / limp and heavy 6-8 times
My right arm is getting / heavier and heavier 6-8 times
My right arm / is completely heavy 6-8 times
I feel / supremely calm 1 time
Then open your eyes and throw away that heaviness. Bend your arm back and forth a couple of times, take a few deep breaths.
Check your position and your relaxation mask, then begin the cycle again.
Including the warm-up, spend about seven to ten minutes at this two or three times a day.
Repeat the formula verbatim. Speak to yourself in an appropriate tone and imagine your arm getting heavier and heavier. (One option that some find useful is to recite the formula in rhythm to a breath-count. Notice how each phrase of the formula is broken into two halves by a slash [ / ]. You might consider reciting the first half of each phrase on the inhale and the second half on the exhale).
In any case, keep to the exercise but don't try too hard, don't make this a matter of will. "Abandon yourself " to the words and the feeling of heaviness. If you have trouble imagining heaviness, between sessions hold something heavy, feel that heaviness and say aloud, my arm is getting heavier and heavier.
As Ostrander and Schroeder point out, the effect is cumulative; persistence pays. If you do the exercises regularly, heaviness will appear.
Practice this routine two or three times a day, for three days. After that, continue with the same formula but with the following substitutions:
* My left arm is getting / limp and heavy, etc. - 3 days
* Both my arms are getting / limp and heavy, etc. - 3 days
* My right leg is getting / limp and heavy, etc. - 3 days
* My left leg is getting / limp and heavy, etc. - 3 days
* Both my legs are getting / limp and heavy, etc. - 3 days
* My arms and legs are getting / limp and heavy, etc. - 3 days
The heaviness exercise takes twenty-one days.
At the end of the 21 days, your last cycle of this routine will from now on be known as your final Heaviness Formula:
My arms and legs are getting / limp and heavy 6-8 times
My arms and legs are getting / heavier and heavier 6-8 times
My arms and legs are / completely heavy 6-8 times
I feel / supremely calm 1 time
If a genuine feeling of heaviness appears early, you may go on to Exercise Two. Generally, it's best to build a sure foundation and take the full time. It may help to check off steps as you go to keep your place. Regular practice brings the quickest results.
Some people have exercised only once a day and gained control, though it usually takes longer.
Keep at it, eventually the desired effect will appear.
Another preparatory and precautionary note:-
* Practice in a quiet place, alone if at all possible. It can be of help, if you prefer, to use soft "environmental sounds" or ethereal "New Age" background music. Avoid all other music because your physiological responses will be unconsciously influenced by the melody and rhythm of the music.
I personally find the best results with Holo-Sync Audio Technology.
Holosync is a sophisticated form of neuro-audio technology allowing the listener to easily enter various desirable states, and creating many desirable mental, emotional, and spiritual changes, through entrainment of electrical patterns in the brain. This creates a synchronization, or balance, between brain hemispheres, enhancing mental/emotional health and mental functioning.
In the process, new neural connections are created between the right and left brain hemispheres, leading to what is known as "whole brain functioning."
Along with the main program, you receive several environmental audios (tapes or CDs) that seem to have been made for Autogenics training. These can really enhance your Autogenics experience. I highly recommend giving this a sincere try.
* It sometimes helps to remove your shoes and wear loose clothing during these sessions.
* It can also help the initial training to lie flat on your back on a hard, carpeted floor. This will enhance your ability to feel the heaviness of your arms and legs.
After you have mastered the complete training sequence, it's preferable to practice at least one session of your daily condensed Autogenics Formula (see below) while sitting (or reclining, with your feet up) in a comfortable chair; other than that, you can use your autogenics routine under any other circumstances you like, whether sitting, standing, walking, or lying down.
* We mentioned practicing after eating. Also consider no smoking, or drinking before practice. It's best to practice before meals rather than after, because the digestive processes interferes with the relaxation process. Never practice after using any intoxicants.
* If you fall asleep during a session, repeat that routine in your next session.
* If you practice in bed at night, plan on falling asleep before you complete your cycle. Therefore, consider a practice session at night, in bed, to be in addition to your basic practice.
* When you finish a session, relax with your eyes closed for a few seconds, and then get up slowly. (Orthostatic hypotension-a sudden drop in blood pressure due to standing up quickly-can cause you to faint.) Some people like to count backwards from 5 to 1, timed to slow, deep breathing, and then say, "Eyes open. Supremely calm. Fully alert."
* During the training, you will be focusing intently on your inner experiences, to the exclusion of external events. Therefore, it is possible that you might encounter some kinds of hypnagogic (i.e., dream-like) dissociative experiences in which bodily perceptions seem distorted. In general, just ignore these things and they will pass. If you find them at all troubling, then you might want to consult with a psychologist to try to understand the particular meaning of these symptoms for you.
Above all, keep in mind that this is not a training that can be rushed. So, please remember that even if you "complete" any phase (or part of a phase) according to the specified repetitions, if you don't actually feel the results of what you are saying, take the time to repeat the phase (or the item of the phase).
Maybe it will take you four months instead of three. So what? The idea is not to "finish" the training but to learn the material.
If you compare the initial "extra" work to the ultimate benefits over a lifetime, the burden will seem light indeed.