Fathers and teachers, I ponder, “What is hell?” I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
For the fourth Autogenic Training class, I introduce a number of new practices and ideas. These include the next stage in the basic Autogenic Training sequence (pulse & general calmness), beginning to work on application during daily life (1st differential exercise), and a focus on the "Nourishing positive states" aspect of inner focus exercises. For this latter, I discuss ideas about the importance of our attitudes, process visualisation, and implementation intentions. Please read the introductory remarks and work through the first three Autogenic Training exercises before starting on this fourth Autogenic stage.
As I've said before, in these initial weeks of learning the Autogenics, do your best to practice at least twice daily - sometimes using the recordings and sometimes simply taking yourself through the exercise on your own. This fourth standard exercise introduces the phrase "Pulse steady and calm". It's certainly possible to focus on the sensation of the pulse (at wrist, chest, or throat, etc) during this stage. I personally, and in my classes, teach a focus here on a more general sense of relaxation and calmness. I say that we are currently a bit like a "starfish" - we've specifically relaxed all four limbs and the neck & shoulders - here's a chance to encourage the relaxation to spread deeply right through our whole system. I point out that the blood nourishes every living cell in the body. Now, in a similar way, let the relaxation nourish every corner of the body. You're welcome to use either the shorter 12 minute Pulse exercise or the longer 22 minute exercise or practice without a recording (for 10 to 20 minutes) depending on the time you've made available. The shorter and longer exercises cover the same ground - the longer simply goes into it more deeply. If it's helpful, and it usually is, continue to keep a record of your practice.
I would eventually like you to be able to practise Autogenics - or at least to settle, relax and quieten - when you're walking down the street, or in a meeting, or stressed or pretty much anywhere else. While you're learning, don't try this when you're using dangerous machinery or driving. However - as when learning almost any new skill - gradually increase the challenges you set yourself. If you're to walk down the street while being very relaxed, you'll need to keep some parts of your body active (e.g. the legs) while relaxing other parts (e.g. the arms, shoulders, face, etc). This first differential exercise begins to help you explore this. Please try to practise the 11 minute first differential exercise (with the recording and sometimes on your own) once daily for at least a week. It counts as one of your twice daily Autogenic exercises - so at minimum try to do one pulse/calmness and one differential exercise pretty much every day.
Glance through the slides 1-6 and 7-12 (see below). They highlight the crucial importance of the attitudes we approach our lives with. It's good to set ourselves goals that are chosen aligned with our personal values. See the goals - ACT WISeSt handout for more on skilful goal setting and the process visualisation slides (see below) to suggest interesting and helpful ways to increase the chances of achieving these goals. Implentation intentions, background updates these ideas further and implementation intentions, instructions suggests specific powerful methods of visualisation that you can use in the quiet at the end of Autogenic practice to set up key intentions for the rest of the day. Finally the reflection on intentions sheet encourages you to review what you've found most personally useful about these insights and what you want to continue to explore. It's an added bonus learning how to use implementation intentions. It's not crucial to developing skill in Autogenics, but it highlights one of the ways that inner focus and visualisation can more effectively move out into the rest of our lives.
Autogenic slides 1-6 - these first six slides, for the fourth Autogenic lesson, introduce new practices (pulse & 1st differential) and ideas/research on the importance of our attitudes. The focus is particularly on realizing at a deep level that outcomes in our lives are strongly affected by our beliefs & behaviours ... and that having a sense of "control"/choice/freedom is of great importance. Practising calming skills can nourish this sense of control/choice/freedom in a series of overlapping ways.
Autogenic slides 7-12 - this second set of six slides highlights this "nourishing positive states" use of inner focus. Slide 3 of this set illustrates varous types of "positive state" that can be encouraged in this way. The slides also introduce process visualisation exercises.
The importance of attitude - this handout is quite dated. It focuses on Suzanne Kobasa's work on "Hardiness" - one way of exploring the value of control/choice/freedom. The points it makes still have value.
Goals - ACT WISeST - ACT WISeST is an acronym to help with skilful goal setting.
Reflection on intentions - it's usually good to reflect on what you've been learning. It often helps you "digest" the ideas better and make them more your own. The questions on this reflection sheet are designed to encourage this process.
Autogenics 4a: Pulse, Shorter, 12 minutes - 4.0Mb MP3 file. As described above, my focus in teaching the Pulse exercise is particularly on encouraging deep relaxation and calmness to spread throughout the body (and mind) now.
Autogenics 4b: Pulse, Longer, 22 minutes - 6.3Mb MP3 file. It's fine to practice the shorter Pulse exercise, but good to use this longer form sometimes instead.
Autogenics 4c: First Differential, 11 minutes - 3.6Mb MP3 file. The first of the differential exercises developed by Ost to facilitate application of skills during everyday life.
Practice record 4 - it's usually helpful to keep some kind of record of your practice while you're in this initial learning phase with the Autogenics. It allows you to note how well you're keeping the practice going, how deeply you're able to go, any patterns around missed or "messy" practices, and so on.