We live in a stressful world. Whether it’s the demands of our jobs and careers, a difficult boss, neighbor, or relative, the responsibilities of parenthood and raising a family, caring for aging parents, loneliness, the loss of a loved one, or health issues. Life is hard.
Even when we succeed in meeting these challenges, these stresses take a toll on our minds, our bodies, and our behavior. While we may be diligent about dealing with these stresses directly, many of us overlook keeping our minds and spirit healthy, and so we remain stressed and eventually these stresses catch up with us in one way or another.
It is important to pay attention to our minds, bodies, and spirits so that we may take care of ourselves allowing to function more efficiently and live life with greater enjoyment, less encumbered by life’s many challenges and difficulties. This is why many people today are turning to meditative practices and yoga classes which incorporate meditation.
Autogenic training is a form of meditation I use in my practice to help patients relax and deal with life’s stresses better. It is taught in a series of graduated visualization exercises which can be recorded and subsequently rehearsed at home as a daily practice. Research studies have shown its benefits in terms of reducing stress, treating insomnia and health issues such as hypertension, alleviating chronic pain, improving focus and attention, and enhancing performance in sports activities.
The beauty of autogenic training is that over time, with daily practice, one becomes more skilled and proficient at inducing a state of calmness instantaneously. It is a conditioning exercise. In other words, as with any new skill we attempt to learn, at first it is difficult but over time one’s ability to focus and benefit from practice in terms of the relaxation response increases steadily. Many of my patients thus have found the rewards of incorporating meditative practice into their daily lives.
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Posted by Robert Hamm, Ph.D.
Robert Hamm Ph.D