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Autogenic training, session 4

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." - Thich Nhat Hanh

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.

Autogenic training, session 3

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.

- Henry Ford

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

Energy is an eternal delight

- William Blake

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

The genius of Tulku Urgyen was that he could point out the nature of mind with precision and matter-of-factness of teaching a person how to thread a needle and could get an ordinary meditator like me to recognize that consciousness is intrinsically free of self ... I came to Tulku Urgyen yearning for the experience of self-transcendence, and in a few minutes he showed me I had no self to transcend ... Tulku Urgyen simply handed me the ability to cut through the illusion of the self directly, even in ordinary states of consciousness.  This instruction was, without question, the most important thing I have ever been explicitly taught by another human being.  It has given me a way to escape the usual tides of psychological suffering - fear, anger, shame - in an instant.

- Sam Harris

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

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage

- Lao Tzu

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".

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