Naturopath Dr. Phil Frank Welte
Autogenic Training – Cool Head and Warm Feet
Autogenic training is the relaxation technique for the 20. Century. It was developed from hypnosis by the Berlin psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz (1884 to 1970), presented for the first time in 1926 and published in his book "Autogenic Training" in 1932. Today, autogenic training is probably the best-known relaxation experience in the world. For example, in Austria even a legally recognized psychotherapy method.
J. H. Schultz was a physician and worked with Oskar Vogt on hypnosis, which they used to treat pain. During their experiments, they were amazed to find that the patients recited the hypnosis formulas to themselves and achieved almost the same success. This of course promises a tremendous advantage. One of the disadvantages of hypnosis is that the patient needs the hypnotist. The young doctor Schultz began to recite the hypnosis formulas to himself, he did self-hypnosis and from these experiments the autogenic training was developed, which is also called the little sister of hypnosis.
Autogenic comes from the Greek and means "self-acting/self-excited."Autogenic training is therefore relaxation through self-acting, self-excited practice or, in other words, relaxation through concentration exercises with autosuggestive ideas.
As a doctor he now proceeded quite physiologically. In order to achieve relaxation it is necessary to be calm. Rest reminds one of sleep. Therefore, before starting the exercise, one closes one's eyes and gives oneself the goal, the so-called resting tone. It reads: "I become completely calm. Rest comes, restlessness goes."
In normal everyday life the body is tense, it must be able to react at any time, to run away. To regenerate he has to let go of this tension. The gravity formulas are now used for this purpose. Besides their actual message to create a state of heaviness, they have the purpose to occupy the everyday consciousness, i.E. To narrow it down, focus is what they say in technical terms, the critical consciousness disappears and makes way for an introspection, which now feels how the tense body becomes pleasantly heavy. In purely physiological terms, this relaxes the muscles, which improves their blood supply, resulting in a feeling of warmth. The emerging feeling of warmth is now intensified by the warmth formulas. The body is now pleasantly heavy and warm.
Now follow the organ formulas, which aim at calming the respiration, heart and stomach and thereby improving the blood circulation, which becomes noticeable through the sounds of the organs themselves. Finally the forehead is addressed. It becomes cool and clear. Critical thinking has disappeared, instead a relaxedness prevails, as we know it when falling asleep and waking up, and thus our target – to keep warm feet and a cool head – has been achieved – what the vernacular has always known, of course.
In my opinion the AT is a secular meditation technique. The power of J. H. Schultz insists that he has developed a modern immersion process in which mental and physical relaxation takes place without any religious reference. The AT can be accomplished therefore by each humans, all the same which world view. Unless religion claims to be the sole author of relaxation, then of course it will not recognize the AT.
Training and practicing the AT
A precise distinction must be made between practicing and practicing the AT. It can be learned individually as well as in a group. As a rule, it is learned in a group. Such a group has six to twelve participants. The instructor speaks the formula and the participants let it work on them, then everyone expresses how they experienced it, then the formula is practiced alone and then discussed again. Since everyone experiences the AT a little differently, one experiences a good corrective, in addition the firm date, the energy of the group and the duration of the instruction, usually 60 to 90 minutes, whose length deviates strongly from the own practicing.
An important question is about the regular practicing. The participants of the exercises are in a paradoxical situation. You come because of stress and you are supposed to relax and the stress, we call it the little monkey, will do everything to prevent you from relaxing. The only thing that helps here is to observe exactly why you have again not found the time and place to practice. AT is performed sitting or lying down, with preference given to sitting, since there is seldom a bed, but always a place to sit. The eyes are always closed.
The AT is completed with the so-called withdrawal. Since AT is a relaxation, the withdrawal is done by tensing the muscles, which is done as follows: With the eyes still closed, the forearms are jerked three times in succession with strongly clenched fists until they reach an imaginary stop at the shoulders. The third time you take a deep breath, then you open your eyes, exhale and relax your muscles. During the practice phase, the participants should practice for fifteen minutes a day, always at the same time. The lunch break or the end of the working day is a good time to do this. At noon one goes freshly strengthened into the work, in the evening one switches off for the closing time. AT is a good means of falling asleep, but it should not be practiced before falling asleep, because then one falls asleep over the exercises and they are not properly learned. It requires a room free of disturbances, telephone unplugged. In the practice phase only the respective exercises are practiced. Each exercise should be practiced for eight to fourteen days before moving on to the next one. Learning the lower level takes two to three months. The practice of AT leads to a changed attitude towards tension. The basic attitude becomes more relaxed, you are no longer so easily seized by stress, and when you get into stress, you release yourself more easily.
AT is not a miracle cure, it only optimizes our own abilities. AT is not suitable for acute stress. For this purpose, the psychohygiene breathing of Hannes Lindemann is preferable, in which one bar is inhaled and four bars are exhaled. This does not lead to regeneration, but to a lightning escape from stress. Once you have learned AT, you should continue to practice every day, and you should be able to switch over in two or three minutes.
The performance of the AT exercises
For the performance of the AT exercises, the correct posture must first be adopted. J. H. Schultz recommended the coachman's posture, which he had copied from the coachmen in Berlin in the 1920s. At the same time, AT is never dogmatic, but you write your own AT, so find the attitude that is most comfortable for you. I recommend the classical meditation posture, as I am also of the opinion that AT is a secular meditation. One sits on the edge of the chair, both legs firmly on the floor upright. At first, this position causes difficulties because the back muscles are not trained, but it is advantageous with longer practice, especially at the upper level, because here one is least exposed to gravity and is not torn apart. After the corresponding position has been taken, passive concentration on the formula of the respective exercise takes place, by imagining this formula or. Recites in the spirit. It is important to adhere exactly to the literal content of the formula. The realization of the formula content is not to be forced, thus not to come off by active achievement.
All formulas are repeated three times. Starting with the rest toning. It always precedes all other exercises. In addition one places oneself the formula: "I become completely calm. Calm comes, restlessness goes" before. Then follows the idea of weight "Right arm completely heavy", followed by "Both arms completely heavy, arms and legs completely heavy, whole body heavy."
In the same way as the sensation of heaviness, the sensation of warmth is then conditioned. The formula is: "Right hand, right arm completely warm"; "Hands and arms completely warm"; "Feet and legs, hands and arms completely warm."
These formulas can be replaced in a second round by the shortened formula: "rest-heaviness-warmth". With the exercise sequence "calm-heaviness-warmth" one has now mastered the basic exercises of the AT. They precede all other exercises.
Now follow the organ exercises, each of which is maintained. So the exercise lengthens with each added formula.
The organ exercises:
"It breathes me", or "the breathing is quite calm", or "I abandon myself to my breathing", "The pulse is calm and palpable", or "the pulse is palpably calm", or "the heart beats calmly and vigorously", or "the heart beats calmly and steadily" – the right hand rests loosely over the region of the heart at the same time. "The belly is flowing warm", or "the solar plexus is flowing warm" – the right hand rests on the upper belly. "The forehead is cool and light."
As a conclusion, the wake-up formula follows: Clench your hands into fists. Bend arms to the shoulder and inhale. Stretching arms. Exhale. At the third time eyes open!
The upper stage
The upper stage is strongly reminiscent of classical meditation. It was also made by J. H. Schultz developed. Requires mastery of the basic level. H. Schultz develops. Presupposes the mastery of the basic level. Schultz developed and presupposes the mastery of the basic level. A sudden switch to the resting state is required within two or three minutes, which is usually achieved after six to twelve months of regular practice. The upper level exercises require a contemplation time of 30 to 60 minutes. Should be done once a day. In the upper stage, the closed eyes are directed upward inward, looking at a point between the eyebrows.
The color show
The first exercise is the so-called color show. An attempt is made to fill the entire field of vision with any color – the so-called intrinsic color now appears, which is amenable to interpretation. Then the colors are given. About three weeks are needed for the color show.
The Object View
The second exercise is the object show. The participants in the exercise are supposed to make certain objects appear in their mind's eye. As a useful side effect, a general sharpening of observation skills soon sets in. Four to six weeks are needed for this exercise.
Seeing abstract concepts
The third exercise is for seeing abstract concepts such as contentment or happiness. The results can be interpreted symbolically in the sense of the daydream technique and in many cases represent a cathartic experience and thus processing.
The experience of self-feeling
The fourth exercise is for experiencing one's own feeling. It is tried to imagine the most deeply desired emotional state pictorially.
Empathy with others
In the fifth exercise, the empathy with other people is conditioned. The practitioner tries to imagine another person in such a plastic way. To present them as vividly as possible. This technique can be used to achieve purifying neutralization by frequently introducing people with whom there is a problematic relationship.
Questions to the immersion
The sixth exercise is followed by questions to the absorber. This exercise aims at a mastering of everyday problems, at a comprehension of the human being and individual cognition formation, i.E. At the formation of a world view.
The last stage is self-realization. So in the upper stage one tries to create the conditions to help the underlying personality to break through. From the insights gained in this way, a personality formula is now formed, which is practiced regularly in contemplation. Such formulas can z. B. Are: I am free, I am safe, I decide for myself, Life is change.
In addition to the upper level, there is also the technique of guiding sentence formation also called formulaic resolutions. To do this, one performs the AT and remains in the relaxed state, facing one's problem, bsp. Difficulty falling asleep. Waits for a positive formula. Ideally, it is: "I fall asleep by myself" or "I sleep deeply and soundly" or "I sleep through" or "I wake up refreshed."Like the other formulas, it is now attached to the AT and practiced along with it – in other words, one tells oneself what is desired. The formulaic formation of guiding sentences must be practiced with a therapist or in a group, because man has the so-called blind spot, that is, he is at his own mercy, he tends to take on too much, which he cannot realize, and if it does not work he is disappointed or the soul resists and becomes ill, in addition, the guiding sentences must always be formulated positively and concisely, so that it often requires correction by the leader or therapist. Perhaps the best known example of a guiding sentence is by the AT teacher and physician Hannes Lindemann. To prove the effectiveness of AT, he had crossed the Atlantic alone in a folding boat in the fifties, constantly reciting the guiding principle "Course West" to himself, and was successful in doing so.
I would like to emphasize that AT is not a substitute for psychotherapy. It helps the healthy person to become healthier and the sick person to recover more easily or not to become even sicker, and it helps with regular practice to a general mental and physical strengthening. Psychological problems such as depression or addiction belong in the hands of the therapist. As with everything, AT is a matter of talent, one person learns it more easily, another more difficult, but it can be learned by almost anyone as its worldwide popularity shows.
Literature on autogenic training:
D. Langen, The Way of Autogenic Training, 1968. – Hannes Lindemann, Autogenic Training. The proven way to relaxation, 1989. – Ders., Simply relax. Psychohygiene training, 1984. – Ders., Alone across the ocean. A doctor in dugout and folding boat, 1979. – W. Luthe, Autogenic Training, 1965. – Isolde Mack, Living from Relaxation. Self-help through autogenic training, 1988. – Else Müller, Living more consciously through autogenic training and proper breathing, 1984. – This., You feel the grass under your feet. Autogenic training in fantasy and fairy tale journeys. Read aloud stories, 1983. -Burkhard Peter/Wilhelm Gerl, Relaxation. Muscle Relaxation, Autogenic Training and Meditation, 1977. – Karl Robert Rosa, This is Autogenic Training, 1987. – Ders., The Upper Level of Autogenic Training, 1983. – Johannes Heinrich Schultz, The Autogenic Training. Concentrative Self-Relaxation, 1932 (numerous new editions). – B. Stokvis/E. Wiesenhütter, Textbook of Relaxation, 1979, – K. Thomas, practice of self-hypnosis of autogenic training (after J. H. Schultz). Formulaic intentions and upper stage, 1976. – Heinrich Wallnöfer, Healthy with Autogenic Training, 1983. – Ders. Soul without fear. Autogenic training, hypnosis ways to relax, 1988.