8. Learn the Six Themes of Autogenics
The verbal suggestions of autogenics
are designed specifically to reverse the body’s stress response. The
suggestions have six themes:
1. Heaviness, which promotes
relaxation of the voluntary muscles of the limbs, reversing the tension
in the limbs typical of the stress response
2. 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
3. Regular heartbeat, which helps
to normalize the heart rate, reversing the quickened heart rate
characteristic of the stress response
4. Regular breathing, which helps
to normalize breath rate, reversing the quickened breath rate
characteristic of the stress response
5. Relaxation and warming of the abdomen, which reverses the flow away from the digestive system typical of the stress response
6. 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.
9. Do It Yourself
You can do autogenic
training on your own. 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
10. Make a Tape
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:
1. My right arm is heavy.
2. My left arm is heavy.
3. My right leg is heavy.
4. My left leg is heavy.
5. My right arm is warm.
6. My left arm is warm.
7. My right leg is warm.
8. My left leg is warm.
9. My arms are heavy and warm.
10. My legs are heavy and warm.
11. My heartbeat is slow and easy.
12. My heart feels calm.
13. My breathing is slow and easy.
14. My breathing feels calm.
15. My stomach is warm.
16. My stomach is relaxed.
17. My forehead is cool.
18. My scalp is relaxed.
19. My whole body is calm.
20. My whole body is relaxed.
21. I am calm and relaxed.
Voilà! Good-bye stress response.
11. Are You Passive, Aggressive, or Passive-Aggressive?
Some people tend to deal with
stress passively, letting things happen to them without trying to
control the situation. Others tend to be aggressive, taking their
stressful situations forcefully in hand. The passive-aggressive among us
forcefully control stress in a seemingly passive manner, by inflicting
guilty feelings upon people or by subtly implying what they want while
acting as though they don’t care either way.
Each of these habitual methods of dealing with stress has its damaging effects.
12. If You’re Passive
For the passive stress
manager, stress can begin to feel like an uncontrollable force. While
maintaining a passive attitude is sometimes recommended for effectively
managing the stressful changes inherent in life, too much passivity can
engender a feeling of hopelessness. If you give up, if you are not in
control at all, then what good is it to try to live the way you want to
live? If you are a hapless leaf being blown randomly about by the wind,
what importance do you have? For the naturally passive, assertiveness
training is in order. Chakra meditation can be an effective way to
regain control over the things you really can control.
13. If You’re Aggressive
For the aggressive stress manager,
stress can begin to feel like a formidable foe to be vanquished, and
while a gung-ho attitude can certainly be helpful in some situations,
eventually it is physically and mentally exhausting. It also puts you on
the defensive. You begin to feel as though fate is conspiring against
you, throwing you one challenge after another, and that if you don’t
excel, you’ll be a great big failure. For the naturally aggressive,
meditation can be a healing tool as well as an enlightening experience
into the nature of reality. Learning to accept rather than attack is a
valuable stress management skill for aggressive types.
14. If You’re Passive-Aggressive
For the passive-aggressive stress
manager, stress is something to subvert with trickery. Even if you don’t
fully realize it, you don’t handle stress directly. You manipulate your
circumstances underhandedly so that you can get what you need without
feeling as though you’ve behaved inappropriately. This, too, can be an
effective way to deal with certain kinds of stress. Sometimes the stress
in life is best nuzzled into submission with flowers and candy. But
sometimes, the passive-aggressive way is simply indirect and therefore
wholly ineffective. A direct acknowledgment of the stress you have and
direct action to purge it from your life might be much simpler.