Do you feel free to pursue this year’s goals? It might seem an odd question at first, but whilst we are free to choose our path in life, we don’t spend nearly enough time in the driving seat! We can often feel at the mercy of events which happen to us, with little awareness of our freedom in how we respond.
As we move forward this year, there will, of course, be uncertainty – that is guaranteed. But we can cope – and even thrive – with this uncertainty, if we make the best use of our freedom to choose how we respond within it. The first steps to the life we want, begin with understanding just how free we are. And Sophrology can hold the key to realising that freedom.
Sowing the Seeds of Change
Consider this scenario: You wake in the morning and practice a simple set of techniques that create a sense of calm and quiet purpose with which to start your day. Later, you hit a little turbulence; (e.g., stress, anger, worry). You pause to ‘listen in’ to your bodily sensations and recognise those feelings. Taking a few minutes to practice those same, simple methods, you feel grounded and calm once again.
As the day comes to an end, you practice once more to relax your body ahead of a good night’s sleep, filled with a deep sense of peace and gratitude…
This is the power of Sophrology. It doesn’t shout ‘change!’ as many methods do, nor does it come with a daily planner of ‘dos and don’ts’. Sophrology speaks gently to your mind, body and consciousness to invite you to evolve with it. At all times, you are the person making the changes, choosing how, where and how often you practice the methods. That is the freedom of the Sophrology method.
Whilst Sophrology is known as a valuable tool for reducing stress, worry or pain, its techniques are particularly effective in helping those who wish to change their focus or mindset on a broader level. Through mindfulness, meditation, and dynamic relaxation methods, Sophrology brings to its students, the resolve, harmony, and positivity that sow the seeds of positive change.
Helping you Feel calm when Things get rocky.
Suppose your goal is to worry less about things in your day-to-day life. Sophrology provides that much-needed feeling of calm to deal with difficult situations as they arise. Part of the method is to perform a ‘body scan’ – which is precisely that; a mental scan of your own body, to identify any tensions, pain or other sensations that you might otherwise be unaware of. You can then choose which Sophrology exercises will suit that situation and help you to return to a state of calm and inner peace. Once you fall into the practice of these methods, you will find yourself able to respond to stressors in a far healthier way.
Embracing your Positivity …
Many see the new year as an opportunity to have a more positive approach to life. And for those of you accustomed to the Dalai Lama’s teachings, you might be familiar with the concept that we cannot hold fear and a sense of lack in a mind filled with gratitude and abundance.
Whereas many wellbeing methods aim to address issues by focusing on them, Sophrology seeks to empower us to overcome them by focusing on our strengths, positivity, and inner joy. This helps us create a ‘positive chain reaction’ that emboldens our spirit and invigorates our bodies – one reason why the method is so popular with sports therapists and their athletes. That said, your intentions needn’t be Olympic in nature! Any challenge you set yourself benefits from positive focus on all that is good about you and makes you happy.
…and managing Negativity
Sophrology is quite remarkable in that its techniques address negative thoughts – not by banishing negative thoughts, but by recognising them and managing them differently. The phenomenological approach of ‘Bracketing Out’ helps us to look objectively at a negative thought and observe it without judgement – putting a ‘bracket’ around it as if to hold it as just one possibility amongst others. Then we turn our attention away from it and focus our intent upon those positive alternatives. Through the example of undesired attention, ‘Don’t think of an elephant’, (which you undoubtedly then do!), it’s easy to understand why Sophrology’s more gentle approach of shifting your gaze willingly, works far better than forcing a thought from your mind.
Manifesting your Intention
Sophrology can help you switch off the ‘everyday’ automatic replay and consciously reconnect with your goal intentions. One technique used is ‘anchoring’ where we create a strong connection between a gesture and certain positive feelings. We then use that gesture to reconnect to this feeling, using it when needed throughout the day to bathe ourselves in the warm glow of that positive intention. It’s incredibly powerful and can completely alter how we respond to triggers, moments of weakness or feelings of worry. The greater your self-awareness and attention to your goals, the more likely you will succeed in them.
Freeing your Mind with Creative Visualisation
Whilst our activities may be restricted by the current pandemic, your mind is always free! And this freedom forms a crucial part of maintaining our wellbeing, as we can use our creativity to alter our state of mind. Creative visualisation has long been found to have extraordinary success in changing our mindsets. In fact, your brain cannot tell the difference between real and imagined events, so imagining a sense of happiness, peace, or pure joy will bring about the chemical changes associated with those feelings.
One of the simplest and most effective creative visualisation techniques used in Sophrology is called ‘Breathing in the Sunshine’; imagining the sun’s warmth and energy spreading through your body as you practice. You can find these, and other techniques in Sophrology practitioner Florence Parot’s book, ‘The Sophrology Method.’ – a great read by the Sophrology Academy’s own Founding Director!
Reach your goals, one gentle step at a time …
Whatever your intentions this year, Sophrology can help by freeing your mind of judgement, improving your self-awareness and self-control, and opening your mind to the possibility of change. That’s why it’s so powerful for ‘new beginnings’; each day we practice is a fresh opportunity to free our consciousness and get closer to what we want to be.
‘If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right’, goes the old saying. We have that freedom to choose; we just need to unlock it.
The Sophrology Academy offers a range of certified programmes for health professionals and therapists who wish to train in Sophrology as a practitioner or expand their skill set for their clients’ continued benefit.