Learn to relax with AT
While sharing similarities with contemporary mindfulness-based stress reduction approaches, AT is a unique holistic self-help and stress management system that combines body awareness, self hypnosis and practical strategies to release and process difficult emotions.
Regular practice of Autogenic Therapy may bring you meaningful moments of:
• Release and
The term ‘Autogenic Therapy' is a bit of a mouthful but it also clearly describes what it's all about. Auto means self and genic means produced or created so Autogenic Therapy means self created therapy.
The foundation course I teach is often referred to as Autogenic Training in recognition of the other methods within the Autogenic Therapy family. However, as this is the only method that most people seem to learn and it can be highly therapeutic in its own right, I call it Autogenic Therapy to acknowledge its healing potential.
As well as helping you learn the vital skill of being able to relax, ongoing practice of AT could help you cultivate and harvest more of the adaptive, soothing and integrating resources of your mind.
embodied and relational process
that regulates the flow
of energy and information.'
The AT toolkit
You'd learn five self-help methods on the Autogenic Therapy course. The core method is called the Standard Exercise which is broken down into six parts that build on each other week by week .
If you'd like to find out more about the different AT methods and maybe try out a Standard Exercise taster, please get in touch as I offer this as part of your initial assessment appointment.
Time: Generally about a minute.
Close your eyes and make sensory contact with these areas of your body as you say these, or similar, prompts silently in your mind:
• Feet > Legs > Hips > Back > Shoulders.
• Shoulders > Arms > Hands.
• Stomach > Chest > Back of head > Top of head.
• Face > Eyes > Cheeks > Jaw.
3: TAKE A MOMENT
This is adapted from the Autogenic Therapy body scan you'd do before each Standard Exercise. Why not try it now? The body scan takes about a minute and may help you feel more grounded and at peace with yourself and the world.
A summary of the four steps including the guiding prompts for step two is given above. You silently direct yourself through a body scan with closed eyes so please ensure you fully understand the whole process before doing this.
STEP 1: SETTLE
Close your eyes as you adopt a sitting or lying position where you feel symmetrical, stable, supported and comfortable. Ideally, find a quite location where you won't be disturbed but you can also do this any time and place where you can safely close your eyes.
STEP 2: SCAN
As you say each prompt (see above) silently in your mind, make sensory contact with the named area for a moment before allowing your awareness to move to the next area you name. Maybe have a sense of your awareness being a wave that gently touches each place on its slow journey through you.
Some body scan practices can last up to 20 minutes or even more. Not this one. 30 seconds is fast flow and two minutes is a big, slow wave. If your mind starts to wander too much during the process, this could be a sign you need to speed things up a bit. Find a pace that works for you. It's your call.
Here's a more detailed description of the body scan to give a fuller sense of how you guide your attention to flow through your body. Just use minimal prompts, such as those shown above, when doing it yourself.
• Become aware of any sounds around you and let them be.
• Turn your attention inwards.
• If you become aware of any thoughts and feelings, just acknowledge them.
• Welcome any sensations your notice in your body.
• Starting with your feet, become aware of your calves, thighs and hips.
• Allow your attention to travel easily up your spine to your shoulders.
• Then down your shoulders, down your arms to your hands and fingers.
• Up your front, from your stomach up to your chest area.
• To the back to your neck, from the base of your skull to the top of your head.
• Your awareness now flows down to your forehead, around your eyes and cheeks.
• Finally, allow your tongue to rest easily in your mouth.
STEP 3: TAKE A MOMENT
Just notice what's going on inside you for a while. Acknowledge your thoughts, feelings and body sensations without trying to change anything.
STEP 4: CLOSE
Take a deep in-breath and as you breathe out fully, stretch your arms upwards and outwards so you can feel a good, but safe, stretch in your shoulders. Open your eyes and look around. Rotate your shoulders if you want. Get up slowly and carry on with your day.
This step boosts your alertness, re-connects you with the outer world and formally ends the practice. If you're doing a body scan in bed at night, leave out this final step and you may find it helps you to fall asleep.
Something to look forward to
AT practices are flexible and designed to become a natural habit you dip into each day. As you learn to induce the relaxation response, you'll hopefully start to look forward to these balancing times that could nourish your life in many ways.
If Autogenic Therapy seems right for you:
• You can learn it on your own or in a small group.
• We’d meet once a week for 8 weeks and then around a month later.
• You learn new parts of the AT system each week.
• We can adapt sessions to meet your specific needs.
• After the course, you can develop an AT practice that works for you.
These are outlined on the Appointments page.
Find out more
The British Autogenic Society is responsible for overseeing the training and quality of service provided by Autogenic Therapists in the UK.
www.atdynamics.co.uk > Autogenic Dynamics
Dr Ian Ross describes extensive research underpinning AT and related practices.
Another body-based practice
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