Autogenic training is a powerful relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist, Johannes Schultz and first published in 1932. Autogenic training has been subject to clinical evaluation from its early days in Germany, and from the early 1980s worldwide. In 2002, a meta-analysis of 60 studies was published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, finding significant positive effects of treatment when compared to normals over a number of diagnoses; finding these effects to be similar to best recommended rival therapies; and finding positive additional effects by patients, such as their perceived quality of life.
The technique involves the daily practice of sessions that last around 15 minutes, usually in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening. During each session, the practitioner will repeat a set of very specific statements that induce pleasant feelings of heaviness and warmth that are similar to a hypnotic state. From this self induction practice, or where the practitioner is putting oneself into a hypnotic state, comes the name, autogenic training meaning self created. It takes some practice and an attitude of allowing instead of doing. Trying to make it happen using willpower will actually come in the way of relaxation. Simply slip passively into the physical experience of your body, not attached to the outcome. You must transport yourself into the organ that you wish to influence.
Autogenic Training restores the balance between the activity of the sympathetic (flight or fight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest) branches of the autonomic nervous system. This has important health benefits, as the parasympathetic activity promotes digestion and bowel movements, lowers the blood pressure, slows the heart rate, and promotes the functions of the immune system. The technique can be used to alleviate many stress-induced psychosomatic disorders, including insomnia, overweight, inability to concentrate, asthma, headaches, high blood pressure, constipation, skin problems etc. It can also be helpful with problems such as anxiety, fatigue, irritability, to manage pain and increase resistance to stress.
Autogenic Training is contraindicated for children under the age of 5, people with heart conditions, diabetes or any other serious medical condition or psychotic disorders. They should work closely under their physician’s supervision. People with blood pressure difficulties need to be closely monitored during their practice as it affects their blood pressure.