Recovery Advocate

Autogenic Training

Autogenic Training

What is autogenic training?

Autogenic training (AT) is a technique that teaches your body to respond to your verbal commands. These commands “tell” your body to relax and control breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and body temperature. The goal of AT is to achieve deep relaxation and reduce stress. After you learn the technique, you can use it whenever you need or want relief from symptoms of stress, or you can practice it regularly to enjoy the benefits of deep relaxation and prevent the effects of chronic stress.

Autogenic training consists of six standard exercises that make the body feel warm, heavy, and relaxed. For each exercise, you get into a simple posture (sitting in a comfortable chair or reclining), concentrate without any goal, and then use visual imagination and verbal cues to relax your body in some specific way.

You learn each exercise by reading about it or watching a teacher, then practicing it for a few minutes several times a day. Learning the exercises, either from an instructor or on your own, usually moves at a slow, steady pace, taking 4 to 6 months to master all six exercises.

Without regular practice, autogenic training is not likely to have an effect. For this reason, only those people who are motivated and committed to learning it are likely to get any benefit from AT. But for those who master the technique, it works, and it can be an effective treatment for chronic stress.

The way AT works is not fully understood, but its effects on the body are measurable. Experts believe that AT works in ways that are similar to hypnosis and biofeedback. The exercises allow communication between the mind and the body, allowing you to influence body reactions that cannot normally be controlled, such as blood pressure, heartbeat, and body temperature.
What is autogenic training used for?

Most people use autogenic training (AT) to relieve the symptoms of stress. It can also be helpful with problems such as generalized anxiety, fatigue, and irritability. Some people use it to manage pain, reduce sleeping disorders such as insomnia, and increase their resistance to stress.

How to practice autogenic training

Find a quiet place free from distractions. Lie on the floor or recline in a chair. Loosen any tight clothing and remove glasses or contacts. Rest your hands in your lap or on the arms of the chair.

Take a few slow even breaths. If you have not already, spend a few minutes practicing diaphragmatic breathing.

Quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Focus attention on your arms. Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My arms are very heavy.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Refocus attention on your arms. Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My arms are very warm.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Focus attention on your legs. Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My legs are very heavy.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Refocus attention on your legs. Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My legs are very warm.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My heartbeat is calm and regular.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My breathing is calm and regular.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My abdomen is warm.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Quietly and slowly repeat to yourself six times, “My forehead is pleasantly cool.” Then quietly say to yourself, “I am completely calm.”

Enjoy the feeling of relaxation, warmth and heaviness. When you are ready, quietly say to yourself, “Arms firm, breathe deeply, eyes open.”

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