Word origin: Greek: autos = self; genos = to produce
Autogenic training should not be confused with mental training. Autogenic training is a recognized method for stress regulation and treatment of psychosomatic disorders. The founder of autogenic training is the Berlin psychiatrist JOHANNES HEINRICH SCHULZE.
It originated from classical hypnosis. However, compared to hypnosis, autogenic training is understood as an autosuggestion in relaxation. Autogenic training, however, is more than just relaxation, it tries to influence the parasympathetic (involuntary) system of the body arbitrarily through training in order to relax quickly and specifically in stressful situations.
Autogenic training is usually learned in a few weeks under the guidance of a doctor or psychologist in small groups. Autodidactic acquisition is not recommended, as the exercises could be learned incorrectly. The learner assumes a comfortable position, usually sitting with crossed arms and bowed head (cab driver position), or lying down, for beginners.
It is important that the muscles are completely relaxed. During the performance, the practitioner imagines certain exercises in the mind intensively in short periods of time, which he performs several times in a row. The concept of autogenic training is based on breath, heaviness and warmth.
The image of “heavy arms” and “legs”, consciously and intensely created in the mind, automatically leads to a relaxation of the muscles with a concomitant improved blood circulation in the limbs. The conscious waking up produced an activation of the motor end plates of the nerve endings. With the desired relaxation further physiological effects occur: In addition, autogenic training achieves the feeling of cooling.
- Reduction of the breathing frequency
- Reduction of the heart rate
- Improvement of the general well-being
Conscious relaxation can only be achieved under optimal environmental conditions. Only those who feel comfortable in their surroundings can achieve a state of relaxation. Special attention should therefore be paid to the ambient temperature, which should not be too warm, but also not too cold.
Likewise, the room in which you relax must be free of any disturbing noises and darkened. Especially beginners find it much easier to relax under optimal conditions. Frequent use of autogenic training improves the individual’s ability to relax.
An experienced person can achieve a form of deeper relaxation in a very short time. – Consciously reach the state of rest. J. H. Schultz describes this phase with the objective, the arm is very heavy.
The practitioner should let himself fall completely during these exercises and get the feeling that nothing can disturb him. – The difficult exercise. The body should be consciously put into a state of heaviness through concentration.
Typical ideas are: The legs are very heavy. – The warmth exercise puts the body into a feeling of conscious warming of the limbs with resulting improved blood circulation. – Through controlled inhalation and exhalation a conscious state of relaxation is achieved.
Statements such as: “Breathing is completely calm” are consciously implied. – The fifth exercise refers to the influence of the heartbeat. The practitioner consciously tries to perceive the heartbeat.
- In the sixth exercise, the practitioner tries to direct the concentration to the solar plexus (middle of the body). – In the last exercise the entire concentration is consciously directed to the head. The aim is to imagine a cool forehead.
In addition to general relaxation, autogenic training is used for psychological complaints, nervousness, sleep disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, disorders of the digestive tract and many more. Autogenic training is also used to combat certain addictions (smoking, alcohol…). This works especially well, autogenic training is based on the principle of autosuggestion.