This relaxation technique is practiced world wide but is surprisingly little-known here in the U.S. This particular course is based on the modified version presented by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder in the 1979 classic "Super-learning".
The word Autogenics is composed of auto- (from the Greek autos, self) and -genous (a suffix meaning produced by, giving birth, being born and reflecting the word genesis, creation). It was chosen by Johannes Schultz, a German doctor, to describe his original discovery first published in 1932.
Word has it that Dr. Schultz studied deep meditatiors and Yogis at moments of their most profound depths during meditation. Recording the common physical idiosyncrasies of those moments he figured that the power of suggestion, applied to those physical aspects could accelerate anyone's progress to similar levels of depth. Thus making the practice of profound meditation much more approachable and more conducive to the demands of the modern day lifestyle.
Autogenics teaches conscious control of various so-called involuntary body functions like heartbeat and metabolism. Visualization and affirmations are also a part of the training.
People who have learned through autogenics to communicate with the body say it's as if the body had always been on automatic pilot and suddenly you discover you can take over the controls.
Peak performance training, widely practiced throughout Europe and former Soviet block nations, has turned many thousands into better athletes, better public speakers, better performing artists - in fact, better performers in virtually any area. We will discuss various uses for this skill throughout this series of lessons.
For now, lets get to the actual development of the skill itself.
Autogenics training teaches you to create a feeling of warmth and heaviness throughout your body, thereby experiencing a profound state of physical relaxation, bodily health, and mental peace.
There is nothing "mystical" about this training. It's pure physiology. But it can be a first step to real spiritual healing.
This training sequence actually takes about THREE MONTHS.
Feel free to read ahead, anticipation strengthens the suggestions but please do them in the order prescribed
This will probably be one of the most important investments of time you will ever make.
The training presented here does not take much actual time each day; it is based on discipline over time.
When you have mastered this course you should be able to bring about the relaxed, attentive autogenic state in thirty seconds to a minute, anywhere, under any circumstances. To learn however, choose a comfortable place, secure from disturbance.
It is also best if you wait at least an hour after meals (although French doctors working with patients via the Autogenics method report no bad effects have ever been found from autogenics exercises).
Assume one of the following positions, whichever is most suitable under the circumstances.
1. THE COACHMAN: Think of an old-fashioned coachman relaxing during a long journey. Sit on a chair of stool. Let your head hang slightly forward, forearms and hands rest loosely on your thighs, your legs are positioned comfortably, feet pointed slightly outward. Your eyes closed.
2. THE EASY CHAIR: Ease comfortably into a lounge chair, your head resting against the back. Arms and hands are on the char arms or resting on your thighs, legs and feet comfortably positioned with feet turned slightly outward. Your eyes are closed.
3. RECLINING: Lie down on your back, your head slightly pillowed. Your arms, a little bent at the elbows, rest palms down beside your body; your legs are relaxed and not touching each other; feet point slightly to the side. (If your feet are pointing straight up, you're not relaxed.) Your eyes closed.
Use this Warm-up before every autogenics practice session, even after you have become proficient at the more advanced exercises.
The warm-up, like everything in autogenics, is simple. It involves putting on your own "relaxation mask" and a cycle of breathing.
Imagine you are putting on a relaxation mask. This wonderful mask smoothes out frowns and tension wrinkles. All the muscles in your face relax, let go. Your eyelids close and rest gently , with eyes aimed at the tip of your nose. Your jaw hangs loosely, your mouth slightly open.
Your tongue touches the gumline of your upper teeth (slightly pronounce d or t).
Now start a gentle cycle of deep breathing without straining yourself. This is "belly breathing". As the air flows in, feel your abdomen fill with it and puff up. As you breathe out, feel it sink in. Breathe slowly. Exhale twice as long as you inhale. With each breath the duration increases.
For instance, inhale counting, "One," exhale counting, "One, Two." Inhale counting, "One, Two;" exhale counting, "One, Two, Three, Four."
Go up the scale to six counts in, twelve counts out.
Then reverse: six counts in, twelve counts out; five counts in, ten counts out; and so on, down to one count in, two counts out.
Spend any spare few moments you have today practicing this warm-up routine. It is how you will begin every session, even after you have become proficient at the more advanced Autogenics exercises.
Soon, putting on your relaxation mask and going through the breathing cycle will, all by itself signal your body and other-than-conscious-mind that it is "safe" to relax.
For accelerated insight into relaxation and the art of "letting go", take a look at the tapes I use - Holo - Sync Audio Technology.
Along with their main program, which is great - you will receive several environmental audios (tapes or CDs) and these are perfect of Autogenics training. I find these really enhance my relaxation experience. Click here to have a look.
By way of clarification, when I first started Autogenics I almost held my breath during the shorter counts (taking the "count slow" admonition a bit too literally). I realized after some practice that the first and last few breaths are more like sighs... deep, quick and belly filling.
As you go deeper into the count, your breaths become much more measured (to avoid running out of breath before you finish your count).
Practice this Autogenics breath several times today but remember... do not strain. This is the most profound method of relaxation most of us will ever undertake.
Maintain a playful attitude and go easy on yourself (not only with Autogenics)and you'll see how refreshing it can be.
Next, you will begin the first formal exercise in your Autogenics training.