We can all use a little relaxation from time to time, can't we? In the hectic everyday life full of deadlines and tons of work, everyone needs a little break in which they can recharge their batteries. You feel stressed, sleep badly and are permanently under power?
Then autogenic training might be just the thing for you. It actively puts your mind, and therefore your body, into a relaxed state. Even the Buddhist monks practiced autogenic training, albeit in a slightly different form. It was the Berlin doctor and psychotherapist Johannes Heinrich Schultz who established this relaxation method, as we know it today, in the 1920s.
His goal was to find a method that could be easily learned by everyone, and he succeeded in doing just that. Schultz was greatly influenced by the rise of hypnosis at the time. He used it to hone his techniques. He asked hypnotized people what they felt during their trance and developed his autogenic training based on these findings.
What is autogenic training?
Beim autogenen Training handelt es sich um ein umfassendes Entspannungsverfahren, das haben wir bereits geklärt. Aber wie kommt diese Entspannung zustande? Man macht sich hierbei das Prinzip der Autosuggestion zunutze. Kurz zusammengefasst bedeutet das, dass der Körper durch das Sprechen gewisser Worte oder Sätze in einen Zustand der Tiefenentspannung versetzt werden kann. Dann kann sogar Einfluss auf das Unterbewusstsein genommen werden, was die enge Verbindung zur Hypnose noch einmal unterstreicht.
But let's take a closer look at the term autosuggestion. It is also often described as "mental self-influence", which already describes pretty accurately what it is about here. Only with the power of your thoughts you influence your feelings and actions. The whole thing is based on the assumption that you can program your brain similar to a computer and you speak the programming language.
Autosuggestion in everyday life
I'm sure you've even subconsciously used autogenic training at some point. An important presentation was coming up and you gave yourself a good talking to before your big performance with, "I'm all calm and focused." Sound familiar? Well, it wasn't full autogenic training, of course, but the principle is basically the same.
You influence your subconscious mind with your words. You believe what you whisper to yourself and this has an effect on your behavior. In autogenic training, you increase your well-being with the help of so-called suggestion formulas.
How does autogenic training work?
"I am completely calm", "My arms and legs feel heavy", "I feel nice and warm" - these are all possible suggestion formulas that you can use during autogenic training. They help you to shut down and calm down, because only then you can really relax. You will feel your muscles loosening more and more, your body getting warmer and your breath and heartbeat calming down.
Surely you have noticed, the sentences mentioned at the beginning fit quite exactly. That this happens is no coincidence, because you have caused all this with your suggestion formulas. This is exactly how autogenic training works. You address your autonomic nervous system and ask it to switch from tension to relaxation.
Unfortunately you can't actively control this process, that would be too good to be true, wouldn't it? For example, you can consciously decide to raise your arm, but not to lower your pulse. This only works in an indirect way. Namely through autogenic training and the relaxation it induces.
Exercises for autogenic training
Now we've talked long and hard about the theory behind autogenic training. Now it's time to finally look at the practical implementation! There are countless possibilities that you can adapt to your individual preferences and needs. We'll give you an example that you can try out and modify. Let's get started!
Find a quiet place, sit comfortably but upright and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Say softly to yourself, "I am completely calm." Then direct your attention to your arms and say the following phrase several times, "My arms are getting heavier and heavier." Then repeat, "I am very still."
Return your focus to your arms and say both affirmations again. Your attention now moves to your legs. The suggestion phrase is now, "My legs are heavy," followed again by, "I am completely calm." Repeat both phrases five times alternately and feel what is being said.
Relaxation exercise for heartbeat, breathing, abdomen and forehead
Continue with your heartbeat. Listen to yourself for a brief moment and then say to yourself, "My heart is beating calmly and regularly. I am also calm." After five repetitions, the focus moves to your breath. The affirmation now reads, "I am breathing calmly and regularly. I, too, am calm."
Then it's your abdominal muscles' turn. Say softly, "My belly feels pleasantly warm." Repeat this sentence five times, alternating with the initial affirmation, "I am calm." Last but not least, give attention to your forehead. "My forehead is pleasantly cool," is the suggestion formula now.
Immerse yourself in the feeling of relaxation, warmth and pleasant heaviness. Stay like this for a few moments. If you do this autogenic training in the evening in bed, this is the moment when you slowly sink into sleep. If not, once you're ready, say to yourself, "My arms are getting lighter again, my breath is deep, and my eyes are opening." With that, you end your practice.
The numerous applications of autogenic training
As a relaxation method, autogenic training clearly helps you cope better with stress and drift off to sleep faster. But those aren't the only benefits you'll reap. It can help you find inner peace, fight anxiety, strengthen your psyche, and even lower high blood pressure.
Autogenic training can also provide relief from epilepsy. All this makes it a valuable Coaching methodfrom which you can benefit in a wide variety of areas. We would like to go into this in more detail now.
Reduce stress and find inner peace with autogenic training
Most people who resort to autogenic training do so to lower their own stress levels. Those who are permanently on alert and simply never get any rest quickly find themselves in a vicious circle. Stress robs us of sleep, which in turn has a negative effect on our performance, our productivity decreases and we take even longer to complete our tasks.
Das stresst uns immer mehr. Aus diesem Kreislauf auszubrechen, ist gar nicht so einfach, aber mit dem autogenen Training schaffst du es. Es hilft dir dabei, gelassener im Alltag zu werden und besser mit stressigen Situationen umzugehen. Du bleibst, auch wenn dir die Arbeit an einem Tag bis zum Hals steht, leistungsfähig, denn du kannst Probleme mit mehr Abstand betrachten und make rational decisions more easily.
You no longer get into stressful situations, but handle them in a structured way. By the way, autogenic training can also promote your creativity. So it supports your performance twice.
Finally restful sleep again
If you're less stressed, you'll fall asleep faster, sure. A Study of the DAK from 2017 even showed that a whopping 80 % of working people between the ages of 18 and 65 have sleep problems. According to the researchers, stress is one of the main causes.
Autogenic training, as long as you engage in it, puts you in such a relaxed state that sleep is almost knocking on the door. You can take advantage of this and do the training right in bed at night. Your sleep will be deeper and more restful.
Calmness against fear and for mental strength
Do you feel anxious, for example on a plane, in a confined space, or are you nervous as soon as you have to speak in front of other people? If you do your autogenic training regularly, you will be able to face all these situations more calmly. Also, feel free to use suggestion formulas that are specific to these situations, such as, "I'm not afraid," "I feel safe," "I feel comfortable."
You develop a healthier relationship with your emotions and don't give in to them when you don't want to. For example, you can keep feelings of anger and sadness in check. Autogenic training helps you to put negative things behind you more quickly and to concentrate on the good things in life again. That's why psychologists like to use it as a supportive measure in therapy, for example to treat depression.
How autogenic training can help alleviate high blood pressure and epilepsy
High blood pressure is a common consequence of stress. So it's almost self-explanatory why autogenic training can be helpful in alleviating it. Nevertheless, let's take a closer look. High blood pressure occurs whenever the heart has to use more force than usual to pump blood through your body.
With special autosuggestion formulas, you can aim to dilate your blood vessels. Then it is easier for your heart to transport the blood through it. This is exactly why lowering the pulse is an integral part of classic autogenic training. This makes the relaxation method a valuable aid to maintaining heart health.
Autogenic training cannot cure epilepsy, but it can at least alleviate the symptoms somewhat. Learning the appropriate techniques helps sufferers to cope better with the disease. However, you should always consult your doctor first. He knows your clinical picture exactly and can judge whether autogenic training is really beneficial or even a hindrance in your individual case.
Does autogenic training also make sense for children?
This question can be answered with a clear "yes". However, it only makes sense when the child is able to think reflectively. This is often not the case to a sufficient extent until the young teenage years. Adolescents can certainly benefit from the techniques that adults also use and thus, for example, improve their school performance or better withstand the social pressure that may be on them.
For younger children, a reduced form of autogenic training is suitable, which focuses primarily on providing relaxation. More and more children are inundated with stimuli and tend to be hyperactive. What they need is an outlet to help them get rid of all the stress they probably don't even perceive as such. Short, child-friendly variations of autogenic training can then be helpful.
Autogenic training in coaching
And, have you become curious? Then why not give autogenic training a try? By the way, it is an excellent coaching tool.
You want to learn more methods, such as meditations, Ho'oponopono, Enneagram or the inner child, and help not only yourself but also others? Our Coach training makes it possible. Here you'll learn about great tools that help you actively combat stress and advance your personal development. Click here now if you want to bring calm and clarity into the areas of your life that are currently challenging you.