Autogenics is a system of relaxation exercises developed in the late 1920's and 1930's by a German psychiatrist and neurologist, Dr. Johannes Schultz. He used Hypnotherapy on many of his patients and became aware of the great benefits they gained from the deep state of relaxation brought about under hypnosis. This led him to try to devise a set of exercises to enable people to induce a state of relaxation themselves- the word autogenic means self-originated, or coming from within. The aim of these exercises is to help switch off the part of the nervous system that produces the “Flight of Flight” response to stress, and to switch on the relaxation mechanisms. There are essentially six exercises, each focusing on a different sensation, and they may be carried out either lying down or sitting in one of two different ways. No special equipment is required, just the time and space to allow relaxation. The simplicity and effectiveness of autogenics have led to it spreading throughout Europe and America and ever to Japan. Autogenic training is normally carried out by a practitioner with a group of people, with the exercises being learned over several weeks. A feature of the training process can be so-called autogenic discharges, temporary sensations or emotions that can be quite intense and are often followed by a feeling of greater energy. These do not happen to every-one, but are one reason for training with a qualified practitioner, who can explain what they mean. In a training session these sensations are enhances and strengthened by the silent repetition of certain phrases, which, when carried out on a regular basis, can have remarkable effects in relieving stress and fatigue symptoms. The release of long standing stresses can be the reason for autogenic discharge phenomenon.
In a group training situation, an autogenic trainer will probably focus on the first of the above exercises- inducing heaviness and relaxation- for a few weeks so that everyone is confident at performing the exercise. Most autogenic trainers encourage their group members to keep detailed diaries of home practice, and the weekly sessions may begin with a discussion of how every-one has got on in the previous week. This also allows for any individual adjustments that may need to be made to a member's programme.
Initially repetition of these exercises at home should be just for a couple of minutes, perhaps repeated twice a day; during the course of the sessions, the trainer may well suggest that you increase the length of home exercises to around 15 minutes, two to three times a day. It is important that you fir your daily routine so that they become part of your life.
Around 3,000 scientific articles have been published describing the beneficial effects of autogenics, although no one can say for certain how the therapy works. Stress related disorders such as stomach ulcers, migraine; asthma and so on can be improved by these simple exercises. Autogenics are a good example of how mental, emotional and physical health is inextricably intertwined. Repressed emotions or stresses may be responsible for later physical disorders, and this training can help to break this pattern and release the trapped feelings.
The above training exercise can be practiced in various places and situations, such as at work, in the train or sitting in a park, in our lunch hour. It needs no special clothing or adoption of difficult and awkward positions, and is some times compared to learning to drive. First, make yourself comfortable behind the wheel; start off calmly and slowly without any jerks or jolts; next change or alter your physical and mental states- and finally come to a smooth, safe halt. The exercises above are designed to relieve stress and help the body cure itself. For further exploration into autogenics you should consult a practitioner who will give you brief check-up to make the training is suitable for you. Some patients will only be treated under appropriate medical supervision and modified treatment is given to asthmatics, diabetics, pregnant women and epileptics. Therapists claim that autogenic training can help with a variety of ailments such as AIDS, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and eczema. Many practitioners of autogenics are professionals already involved in healthcare, such as doctors, psychotherapists and psychologists. This probably reflects the depth of research into autogenic training and has meant that apart from private autogenic practitioners, autogenics may be available through hospitals or general physicians.
Lecturer, Dept. of Dravya Gun,
Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar.