Autogenic training, or autogenics, was designed to reap the benefits of hypnosis without the need for a hypnotist or the time typically involved in a hypnosis session. Autogenics uses a relaxed position and the verbal suggestion of warmth and heaviness in the limbs to induce a state of deep relaxation and stress relief. Autogenics have been used to treat muscle tension, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, headaches, thyroid problems, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. It can also increase your stress resistance.
The verbal suggestions of autogenics are designed specifically to reverse the body's stress response. The suggestions have six themes:
Heaviness, which promotes relaxation of the voluntary muscles of the limbs, reversing the tension in the limbs typical of the stress response
Warmth, which opens the blood vessels in your arms and legs, reversing the flow of blood to the center of the body typical of the stress response
Regular heartbeat, which helps to normalize the heart rate, reversing the quickened heart rate characteristic of the stress response
Regular breathing, which helps to normalize breath rate, reversing the quickened breath rate characteristic of the stress response
Relaxation and warming of the abdomen, which reverses the flow away from the digestive system typical of the stress response
Cooling of the head, which reverses the flow of blood to the brain typical of the stress response
In other words, all the major symptoms of stress in the body caused by the release of stress hormones are systematically targeted and reversed through the suggestions in autogenic training.
If you feel stress or discomfort during autogenic training, skip to the next area. If you suffer from ulcers or other gastrointestinal problems, skip the step that warms the abdomen and stomach.
You can do autogenic training on your own, but visiting a professional autogenic training instructor to learn how to do it correctly may be a good idea. If you can't find one in your area, look for books on the subject and follow their directions. Or, simply find a quiet place to relax where you are unlikely to be bothered, get comfortable and warm, turn down the lights, and sit or lie comfortably, then focus on each of the six areas in the following manner, repeating the verbal suggestions listed and concentrating on what you are saying to yourself and on the named area. Don't force yourself to concentrate, however. Keep your attitude passive and accepting. However it happens is fine. You can't do it wrong. If you want to consult a professional, check with psychotherapists in your area who practice hypnotherapy, or check with licensed holistic health practitioners such as chiropractors, herbalists, or massage therapists who might be able to refer you to someone nearby.
You can put these suggestions onto an audiotape, or you can memorize them. Repeat each phrase slowly four times before moving on to the next phrase:
My right arm is heavy.
My left arm is heavy.
My right leg is heavy.
My left leg is heavy.
My right arm is warm.
My left arm is warm.
My right leg is warm.
My left leg is warm.
My arms are heavy and warm.
My legs are heavy and warm.
My heartbeat is slow and easy.
My heart feels calm.
My breathing is slow and easy.
My breathing feels calm.
My stomach is warm.
My stomach is relaxed.
My forehead is cool.
My scalp is relaxed.
My whole body is calm.
My whole body is relaxed.
I am calm and relaxed.
Voilà! Good-bye stress response.