What is Autogenics?
Autogenics is a mind-body technique that uses a series of mental exercises to induce a state of deep relaxation. It was developed in the early 20th century by Johannes Heinrich Schultz, a German psychiatrist and neurologist. This technique’s name denotes “changes in one’s self.”
Autogenics is based on the idea that the mind and body are connected, and that by changing the mind, we can change the body. The exercises are designed to promote a state of deep relaxation, which can lead to a number of physical and mental benefits. It is based on the idea that the body has its own natural healing abilities, and that these abilities can be accessed through relaxation and mental focus.
Autogenics involves repeating a series of phrases to yourself, such as “My arms are heavy” or “My heart is beating calmly.” These phrases are designed to help you relax your body and mind.
The six basic autogenic exercises are:
- Heaviness: You focus on feeling your body becoming heavy and relaxed.
- Warmth: You focus on feeling your body becoming warm and relaxed.
- Heart: You focus on feeling your heart beating slowly and regularly.
- Respiration: You focus on feeling your breathing becoming slow and deep.
- Abdomen: You focus on feeling your abdomen rising and falling with your breath.
- Forehead: You focus on feeling your forehead cool and relaxed.
How do I practice Autogenics?
You can practice Autogenics lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. It is important to find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes and begin to focus on the first exercise.
For the heaviness exercise, you might say to yourself, “My right arm is heavy.” You can then repeat this to yourself several times, focusing on the feeling of heaviness in your arm. Once you feel that your arm is heavy, you can move on to the next exercise.
For the warmth exercise, you might say to yourself, “My right arm is warm.” You can then repeat this to yourself several times, focusing on the feeling of warmth in your arm. Once you feel that your arm is warm, you can move on to the next exercise.
You can continue to practice the exercises in order, or you can skip around to the ones that you find most helpful. It is important to listen to your body and not force yourself to do anything that feels uncomfortable.
Autogenics can be practiced for a few minutes at a time, or for longer periods of time. Repeating all six autogenic phrases, 6 times each, should take about 15 to 20 minutes. It can be done sitting or lying down, and it can be done anywhere.
Autogenics is a safe and effective way to relax and de-stress. It can be used to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and manage pain.
Autogenics is not a substitute for medical treatment, but it can be used in conjunction with other treatments to improve overall health and well-being.
How does Autogenics work?
Autogenics works by helping you to relax your body and mind. When you relax, your body releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Autogenics also helps to improve your circulation and reduce stress hormones. The phrases create images which influence the center of the brain that controls the autonomic nervous system, the hypothalamus, thereby producing the relaxation response.
Autogenic training also seems to cause changes in the brain as shown by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). One study shows that when experienced patients perform autogenic relaxation, there was an increased activation of the left post central areas of the brain as well as prefrontal and insular cortex on the fMRI.
Another study using fMRI suggests that performing autogenic training reduces the response to pain in the areas of the brain associated with pain. This might explain how autogenic training affects pain conditions such as headache, migraine, and others.
What are the benefits of Autogenics?
The benefits of Autogenics include:
- Improved sleep
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced pain
- Increased focus and concentration
- Improved mood
- Increased energy levels
- Enhanced creativity
- Increased self-awareness
- Improved overall health and well-being
As per Natural Medicines, Autogenic training is used for mental stress, fatigue, pain, anxiety, migraine, tension headache, labor pain, pain, multiple sclerosis, motion sickness, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Parkinson disease, physical performance, asthma, angina, hypertension, Raynaud’s disease, glaucoma, atopic dermatitis (eczema), coronary heart disease(CHD), depression, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, insomnia, HIV/AIDS, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychological well-being, Raynaud syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sexual arousal, stuttering, tension headache, alcoholism, and other conditions. Natural Medicines – Professional (therapeuticresearch.com)
How do I practice Autogenics?
Autogenics can be practiced sitting or lying down. Find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.
Once you are relaxed, begin to repeat the 6 phrases to yourself, with pauses in between to let those sink in.
My arms are heavy and warm, [pause] I am at peace, [pause]
My legs are heavy and warm, [pause] I am at peace, [pause]
My heartbeat is calm and strong, [pause] I am at peace, [pause]
My abdomen radiates warmth, [pause] I am at peace, [pause]
My forehead is pleasantly cool, [pause] I am at peace, [pause]
My breathing is calm and relaxed, [pause] I am at peace. [pause]
Continue to repeat these phrases for a few minutes. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the phrases.
When you are finished, take a few deep breaths, and open your eyes.
What are the benefits, evidence and risks of autogenics?
Autogenics is a safe and effective relaxation technique. However, there are a few potential risks to be aware of:
- If you have any medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, it is important to talk to your doctor before practicing autogenics.
- Autogenics can make you feel sleepy. If you are going to practice autogenics, make sure you are in a safe place where you will not fall asleep.
- Autogenics can sometimes cause mild side effects, such as headache, dizziness, or nausea. If you experience any of these side effects, stop practicing autogenics and talk to your doctor.
- When used appropriately. Autogenic training has been used with no reports of adverse effects in studies lasting up to 10 weeks
Here are some research article citations for the benefits of autogenics:
- “Autogenic training for chronic pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (Schneider, 2013)
- “Autogenic Training for Reducing Chronic Pain: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials” (Kohlert, 2021)
- “Autogenic training for anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (Kiefer, 2011)
- “Autogenic training for sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (Kiefer, 2010)
- “Autogenic training for athletic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (Schneider, 2012)
- “Autogenic training for creativity: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (Kiefer, 2012)
- “Effectiveness of autogenic training on psychological well-being and quality of life in adults living with chronic physical health problems: a protocol for a systematic review of RCT” (Ramirez-Garcia, 2020)
- “Autogenic training alters cerebral activation patterns in fMRI” (Schalamann, 2010)
- “Cerebral somatic pain modulation during autogenic training in fMRI” (Naglatzki, 2012)
- “Effect of Autogenic Training for Stress Response: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” (Seo, 2019)
- “Effects of autogenic training on stress response and heart rate variability in nursing students” (Lim, 2014)
Where can I learn more about autogenics?
There are many resources available to learn more about autogenics. You can find books, websites, and even audio recordings that can teach you how to practice autogenics. You can also find qualified autogenics instructors who can teach you the technique in person, through the American Autogenic Society.
Autogenics is a safe and effective way to relax and de-stress. It can be used to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and manage pain. Autogenics can also be used to improve athletic performance and to enhance creativity. It is a valuable tool for anyone who wants to improve their overall health and well-being.