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Autogenic training, session 3

“ The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes. ” - Marcel Proust

Here are materials for the third session of the Autogenic Training classes that I've taught for many years.  Please read the introductory remarks and take time to work through the first and second Autogenic Training exercises before starting on this third Limb Warmth focus.  Once working with the Warmth exercises, use "Autogenics 3a: Warmth, Arms, 13 minutes" for several days before moving on to "Autogenics 3b: Warmth, Arms & Legs, 12 minutes" for a few more days. 

Autogenic training, session 2

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.

- Ralph Sockman

I usually encourage people to practise the first Autogenic Limb Heaviness exercises twice daily for at least a week before getting them to consider moving on to this Neck & Shoulders exercise.  There are several important points that I try to get across in this second lesson.  One is that better stress management and life skills are abilities that pretty much everyone would benefit from.  The handout "Psychological & physical difficulties are so common that they are normal" highlights two important facts - "The first is that if you are having difficulties you are not alone - the majority of us have health problems of one kind or another.  The second is that there is a huge need to do something about this situation.  The challenge we face i

Autogenic training, session 1

Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

- Einstein

Here are handouts and Autogenic relaxation exercises from the first "lesson" of an eight session Autogenic Training (AT) class.  This first "class" concentrates on relaxation of the voluntary muscles of the arms & legs.  It is probably sensible to stay with this focus for at least a week or two before moving on to the next exercise in the sequence.  Subsequent lessons teach relaxation of several further body systems.  Please read the introductory post on Autogenics before starting any of these exercises.  If you're hoping to learn AT to help with physical or psychological symptoms, it may be sensible to talk to a health professional first to check on diagnosis and other treatment options.  While you're learning these skills, don't practise them if you're driving or operating other dangerous machinery.

Autogenic relaxation training

We camouflage our true being before others to protect ourselves against criticism or rejection.  This protection comes at a steep price.  When we are not truly known by the other people in our lives, we are misunderstood.  When we are misunderstood, especially by family and friends, we join the "lonely crowd."  Worse, when we succeed in hiding our being from others, we tend to lose touch with our real selves.  This loss of self contributes to illness in its myriad forms.

- Sidney Jourard

Autogenic training: first session

Here are handouts and Autogenic relaxation exercises from the first "lesson" of an eight session Autogenic Training (AT) class.  This first "class" concentrates on relaxation of the voluntary muscles of the arms & legs.  It is probably sensible to stay with this focus for at least a week or two before moving on to the next exercise in the sequence.  Subsequent lessons teach relaxation of several further body systems.  Please read the introductory post on Autogenics before starting any of these exercises.  If you're hoping to learn AT to help with physical or psychological symptoms, it may be sensible to talk to a health professional first to check on diagnosis and other treatment options.  While you're learning these skills, don't practise them if you're driving or operating other dangerous machinery.

Handouts & questionnaires for pain information & assessment (1st post)

For many years my work split fairly evenly between helping people with psychological difficulties and helping people with pain problems.  Quite a few people were troubled with both.  In the last several years I have done much less work with pain, although I still see some people for overall pain management.  This has been partly because I was trying to keep up-to-date with too many fields, so stepping back from pain work made sense.  It has also been partly because the flourishing of research into happiness & wellbeing has fascinated me and taken up time.  Here are a collection of pain-associated assessment and information sheets that I accumulated over the years.  They are obviously relevant for work with pain, and some (e.g. one year symptom diary) can be adapted for work with stress & psychological difficulties. 

IBS severity score & background - this is a scale that was used by Professor Whorwell and his research team in Manchester.

Recent research: lifestyle - five papers on sleep, exercise & stress management

Here are five papers on lifestyle and the benefits of making healthy choices.  The first by Cohen et al on sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold, showed increased risk of developing a cold after infection for those with shorter sleep duration.  Interestingly the increased risk was even greater for those with poor sleep efficiency.  Sleep efficiency is calculated by dividing the time spent asleep by the time spent in bed trying to sleep.  The Good Knowledge section of this website contains useful information on assessing and treating sleep difficulties.

New Year’s resolution – would you like to be happier?

So here's a blast from the past ... that could be fun and useful for a New Year's resolution.  I first came across Michael Fordyce's research year's ago (Fordyce 1977; Fordyce 1983).  It was probably the first serious scientific exploration of how to help people become happier that I'd ever read.  The approach involves a training called the "Fourteen Fundamentals".  These are fourteen characteristics of happy people, extracted from research, that Fordyce argued most people could develop for themselves.  The "Fundamentals" are: 1.) Be more active and keep busy.  2.) Spend more time socializing.  3.) Be productive at meaningful work.  4.) Get better organized and plan things out.  5.) Stop worrying.  6.) Lower your expectations and aspirations.  7.) Develop positive optimistic thinking.  8.) Get present orientated.  9.) WOAHP - work on a healthy personality. 10.) Develop an outgoing, social personality.  11.) Be yourself.  12.) Eliminate negative feelings and problems.  13.) Close relationships are the #1 source of happiness. 14.) VALHAP (value happiness) - the "secret fundamental".

Barbara Fredrickson’s recent research study on loving-kindness meditation (third post)

What are some implications for using forms of mind training for ourselves and for teaching others?  Reading this research study leads me to think about optimum amount of time spent practising these methods, the importance of encouraging application during daily life.  I discuss these issues in this blog posting.  It would also be fascinating and helpful to look at the challenge of maintaining the practices over time, and to consider how different forms of mind training can be directed at different targets - for example, easing symptoms, encouraging particular positive emotions (e.g. compassion, gratitude & contentment), targeting specific key wellbeing needs (e.g. self-determination theory's autonomy, competence & relatedness), and helping people live their personal values.

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