The following Autogenic exercise is from Stress Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Wellness by Edward A. Charlesworth, Ph. D. and Ronald G. Nathan, Ph.D. They suggest doing this twice a day. This is a rather long exercise, which you may want to record on a tape recorder or have someone read to you.
Autogenic Phrases and ImagesSource: Charlesworth, Edward A. and Nathan, Ronald G. Stress Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Wellness. New York: Atheneum, 1984.
First, get into a comfortable position. While you are finding a good position, you will also want to loosen any tight clothing. Become as comfortable as possible.
Let your mouth drop open for a moment and move your jaw gently from side to side. Now, close your mouth slowly, keeping your teeth slightly apart. Take a deep breath. . . . Breathe in so that the air flows into your lungs and feels as though it's filling up your stomach area. Now, breathe out slowly. . . . Feel yourself floating down.
Focus your attention completely and fully on your breathing. Imagine your breathing is as automatic as the ocean waves, rolling in . . . and out . . . in . . . and out. . . . Silently say to yourself, "Breathing, smooth and rhythmic. . . ." "Breathing, smooth and rhythmic. . . ." "My breathing is effortless and calm. . . ." "Breathing, smooth and rhythmic. . . ." "My breathing is effortless and calm. . . ." "Breathing, smooth and rhythmic. . . ."
As you breathe, imagine relaxation flowing over your body, one wave after another. Feel the waves of relaxation moving through your chest and shoulders. Down into your arms. Through your back muscles. Down into your hips and legs.
With each wave of relaxation, try to feel the heaviness and warmth in your arms and your legs. Now, I want you to think, still in a passive way, about wave after wave of relaxation moving upward from your lungs in waves, up and across your face and scalp.
Your mind is becoming more passive and tranquil, and you have a placid, relaxed awareness of the feelings of relaxation throughout your body. All of the tensions and worries will slip away from you as you feel waves of relaxation flooding over you. There is a growing feeling of warmth and heaviness in your arms and legs and a passive awareness of your state of relaxation.
Remember how you imagined the waves rolling in and out to help you breathe effortlessly. Try to feel that again as you now imagine your heart beating. Silently say to yourself, "My heartbeat is calm and regular. . . ." "My heartbeat is calm and regular. . . ." "I feel very quiet, and my heartbeat is calm and regular. . . ." "My whole body is deeply relaxed and my heartbeat is calm and regular. . . ." "My heartbeat is calm and regular."
These feelings of relaxation, passivity, and peace will now become more and more profound as you concentrate on just your right hand and arm. Focus all your attention on your right hand and your right arm. In fact, just to make sure you have made mental contact with your right arm and hand, lightly touch these areas with your left hand.
While you gently stroke your right hand and arm, say to yourself, "My right arm and hand are heavy and warm; warmth is flowing into my arm and down into my hand. . . ." "My right arm and hand are heavy and warm; warmth is flowing into my arm and down into may hand. . . ." Let your left arm return to a resting position, if you have not already done so.
Continue silently to repeat to yourself, "My arm and hand are heavy and warm. . . ." "Warmth is flowing into my right arm, down to my right hand, and it feels pleasantly warm." Remember, you do not want to try to force any of these things to happen, just allow them to happen. They will occur naturally and gently as you passively, continue to focus on your right arm and hand and the feelings of heaviness and warmth. "My right arm is heavy and warm. . . ." "Warmth is flowing into my right arm and down to my hand."
At this time, carefully study the feelings in your arm and hand and attend to the feelings of heaviness and warmth. You may use any thought you care to in order to imagine your right arm and hand becoming warm. You can imagine that they are in warm water or that the warm sun is beating down on them. Continue repeating to yourself: "My right arm and hand are heavy and warm; warmth is flowing into my right arm and it feels pleasantly warm."
Now, I would like you to turn your attention to your left hand, wrist, and arm. Concentrate on this area of your body and focus all your attention there. If you need to, gently touch it as you silently repeat: "My left arm is heavy and warm; warmth is flowing into my arm and down into my hand." "My left arm and hand are heavy and warm." "Warmth is flowing down my arm and into my hand." "My left arm and hand feel pleasantly warm."
The feelings of warmth may be deepened by imaging the sun shining on your left hand and arm. Continue saying these words while focusing on your left arm and hand: "My left arm and hand are heavy and warm." "Warmth is flowing down my left arm and into my wrist and hand."
Become fully aware of the feelings in your left arm and hand, and be sure to keep out all other thoughts as you continue to focus on heaviness and warmth in your left arm and hand. If other thoughts come into your mind, you will find it possible to let them go as quickly as they came. You are passively concentrating on heaviness and warmth. Simply let these things happen; allow these feelings of heaviness and warmth to happen to you. Continue silently to repeat to yourself; "My left arm and hand are heavy and warm; warmth is flowing into my left arm and down into my hand."
Can you feel the relaxation? Does your arm feel as if you would need help to lift it? Maybe the warmth reminds you of the summer sun. However you describe it is fine, as long as it is pleasant for you. Just continue to feel the heaviness and warmth, and feel the relaxation.
Now I want you to focus on both of your arms and hands at the same time, as you say to yourself; "My arms and hands are heavy and warm, warmth is flowing into my arms and down into my hands." "Both my right and my left arm are heavy and warm." My arms and hands are heavy and warm." "Warmth is flowing into my arms and gently down into my wrists, hands and fingertips, and they feel very pleasant.
Very good. You are relaxing all over as your arms become very heavy and warm. As the warmth flows into your hands, you will feel your whole body relaxing. You are letting everything go, all cares and worries are far, far away. This is your time to think only of pleasant relaxation and the feelings it brings. It is better for you if you think of nothing but the way your body feels. Let all other thoughts leave your mind.
Once again, focusing on both of your arms, think to yourself; "My arms are heavy and warm." "Warmth is flowing into my hands." Continue passively to concentrate on your arms being heavy and warm. Be sure you gently push out any other thoughts. In our modern society, the mind is often not used to being quiet and relaxed, and it tends to wander. If you find this happening, do not become upset or disappointed. Just bring your mind back to the thought: "My arms are heavy and warm; warmth is flowing into my hands."
Take some time now while you keep your arms very heavy and warm, to check around your body to see if there is tension in any muscle. Check all around. Is your jaw loose and slack, and are your eyelids gently closed? Be sure the muscles in your face are relaxed.
You are becoming very relaxed, and you feel loose and limp--just like an old rag doll. And you really are that relaxed, as you continue to practice autogenic relaxation.
Now, I want you to focus on your legs. If you need to, make contact with your legs by touching them and becoming more aware of them. Notice where they are touching the surface on which they are resting. Notice that pleasant heaviness and warmth is spreading down from your arms to your legs. Let it happen.
Passively allow the warmth to spread as you silently say to yourself: "My legs are becoming heavy and warm, warmth is flowing into my feet." "My legs are warm and heavy." "My feet are warm and heavy."
"My legs are heavy and warm, warmth is pleasantly flowing into my legs and down into my feet--all the way to the very tips of my toes." "My legs and feet are heavy and warm." "Heavy and warm, very pleasantly warm."
Very good. Now I want you to focus on all your limbs, arms and legs together. Become very aware of your arms and your legs. Repeat silently to yourself: "My arms and legs are heavy and warm, warm and heavy.
"Warm and pleasant feelings are sinking into every part of my arms, hands, legs, and feet." My arms and legs are very limp." "The muscles in my arms and legs are letting go, and I am becoming more and more relaxed."
Take a deep breath. . . . Breathe in so that the air flows into your lungs and feels as though it is flowing way down into your stomach area. Breathe very deeply down into your stomach area and, as you breathe out, say to yourself, "I am calm."
These are very important words that I want you to use only when you are relaxed, very deeply relaxed. These will be summing-up words, which you will say when you feel deeply relaxed. "I am calm. . . ." Take a deep breath and say, "I am calm. . . ."
Eventually you will be able to relax yourself by simply thinking the words, "I am calm." When the day is going badly or you are caught in a traffic jam, you will be able to control your stress by saying, "I am calm." You will remember the feelings of deep relaxation that you are feeling now.
Whenever things make you nervous, whether it is meeting new people, asking your boss for a raise, or talking to large groups, you will find you can relax yourself by simply thinking the words, "I am calm." But at first, be sure to say it only when you are deeply relaxed. After practicing, you can begin to use it in everyday life.
Now as we complete this autogenic relaxation practice, take a deep breath and slowly let it out. Now, I want you to see yourself in the room where you started these exercises. Imagine yourself back where you were when you started these exercises, safe, secure, and pleasantly relaxed. You will enjoy a good feeling every time you do these exercises, and you will feel more and more relaxed.
Now count from one to three. Silently say each number as you take a deep breath. When you reach three, open your eyes. You will be relaxed and alert. When you open your eyes, you will find yourself back in the place where you started your relaxation. The environment will seem slower and calmer, and you will be more relaxed and peaceful.
One, relaxed, but more alert. . . . Two, mentally wide awake. . . . Three, eyes open, alert and refreshed.
(If you plan to return immediately to a physical activity, follow these instructions. Yawn and stretch as you do in the morning. Also, if you are going to do manual activities, shake your hands briskly.)
© 2002 Tom Barrett