Expert / 1 November, 2020 / My Baba

Sophrology: A Gentle Method to Overcome Stress

We have almost heard it all: the magic supplement or cream, that new diet, app or sleeping aid that will suddenly and miraculously transform your life! It all sounds good except most mums dream about just getting a full night’s sleep, having enough energy to run around after their children and finding enough hours in the day to do everything. With so many new wellness trends emerging that promise to fix your life, how can you choose what is right for you? Your time is precious and following fads can result in wasting time and money. Thankfully, not all new trends are destined to fail and let you down.

A new wellbeing buzzword

A new wellbeing buzzword has been going around for the past few years in the UK: Sophrology. The word comes from Greek SOS, PHREN, LOGOS, namely “the science of consciousness in harmony” and the method is based on a unique practice blending Eastern philosophies (Buddhist meditation, yoga, Zen) with Western science (psychology, neurology, philosophy) to access serenity of mind and body. Through a unique combination of breathing, relaxation, movement and positive visualisation you learn to connect with your inner resources to overcome stress-related issues (sleep problems, anxiety, burn out) often caused by overthinking and ruminating about the past. It also helps you support your self-development (building confidence, finding purpose, developing self awareness) so you can access the next level of well-being in your daily life. So is this a fad or is Sophrology here to stay?

Focusing the mind

We have all been there at some point, that state of over activity of the mind where nothing seems to calm it and it spirals into an out-of-control agitation that stops us from enjoying the moment, sleeping or finding clarity. With Sophrology, the mind is given something to follow in the practice either listening to the sensations generated through movement, visualising a colour, an image or a positive outcome or using the breath to release tension. Through this the mind slowly but surely shifts to a more focused and calm state. People who try Sophrology for the first time often say how quickly they can access that state of stillness following the guided sequence of exercises. Unlike other meditative practices Sophrology does not require you to carve out specific time in the day to sit in silence and “empty your mind” from all thoughts. Instead Sophrology is easy to implement, you can take a few moments at any point in your busy day and the practice will naturally soothe you and help you reach a state of calm and serenity.

Sophrology helps access stillness but it also uses our consciousness’ inherent power to positively influence body and mind and transform our daily life. Sophrology teaches you to use the positive resources of the mind to be more creative, get more perspective, and open the infinite possibilities of consciousness notably in relation with finding your purpose and living more in line with your life values. For mums Sophrology can bring a sense of calm in the middle of chaos – helping them keep their cool even in the midst of the most tempestuous of tantrums!

Need to let off steam? Try the ‘tense and release’ exercise

Do you feel like you want to scream “enough!”? Sometimes you just need to let go of the tension quickly so you can move on to better things. Releasing tension can help you feel calmer and manage a demanding schedule (and demanding children!). This exercise only takes a few minutes and you can do it anywhere. In a sitting position, close your eyes and, as you inhale, make fists and tense your arms in front of you. Tense your muscles in your body for a few seconds while holding your breath, then let go and breathe out. Do this twice more, taking a little pause in between to notice any sensation. How do you feel now? This is just one example of many Sophrology exercises you can do to help you manage stress.

How Can Sophrology help?

Sophrology has been widely practised across Continental Europe for decades in different settings including schools, hospitals and corporate environments and championed by everyone from Olympic athletes and professional sportsmen to highflying CEOs such as Arianna Huffington. It is also particularly popular amongst mums-to-be providing help during pregnancy to lower stress levels and prepare for motherhood. Sophrology is an effective birth preparation technique that helps mums-to-be to feel empowered in whatever the birth journey may involve, as well as aiding recuperation and balance when lack of sleep or exhaustion kicks in. The exercises are practised sitting or standing alternating deep relaxation states with gentle movement and breathing to ground in the body, learn to let go of tension and connect with a dynamic state allowing you to get ready for birth notably through visualisation.

Coming from Continental Europe

Sophrology was born in the medical world in the 1960’s and developed by a neuro-psychiatrist Professor Alfonso Caycedo, who was looking to support his patients with an integrative and gentle approach of consciousness. Consciousness wasn’t a very popular subject in medical science at that time but Caycedo was convinced and embarked on a journey to understand how it could be positively influenced. His research took him to India, Tibet and Japan where he drew on the essence of ancient practices to transform consciousness and adapted what he learnt into a new system of exercises organised around 12 levels of practice to harmonise consciousness through the mind body connection. Fast forward 60 years and Sophrology is now a well-established and hugely popular practice in France, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland where it is even reimbursed by the Swiss National Insurance as it has been proven that people who practice Sophrology regularly reduce their medication in take by 30%.

A word from the expert

London based Sophrologist and best-selling Author Dominique Antiglio was born in Switzerland and sent by her GP to see a Sophrologist when she was 15 years old. She was suffering from intense tiredness and recurrent infections and her GP had already exhausted all medical options. In her book “The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology” Dominique describes how Sophrology totally transformed her health and life in only 5 sessions. She is now at the forefront of the Sophrology movement in the UK and the US passionately spreading the practice to help people transform their lives. She was trained by Professor Caycedo himself and is convinced that Sophrology is here to stay!

“The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology” is available to buy in English, Dutch and Spanish.


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