As the conversation around mental health continues to grow, we’re paying particular attention to the practices, tools and techniques that we can apply to make a difference to our daily lives. Sophrology is not a new practice but may have been seemingly overlooked here in the UK. We chat to Dominique Antiglio, Sophrologist and Founder of BeSophro, about this revolutionary practice and what it brings to the table.
What is Sophrology?
Sophrology is a modern practice for stress-management, self-development and to prepare for major life events like an exam, surgery or giving birth. The word ‘Sophrology’ is made of three Greek words meaning the “study of consciousness in harmony”. Its aim is to provide tools and strategies to live a meaningful and happier daily life.
Sophrology was founded by Colombian-born Psychiatrist Alfonso Caycedo in 1960 to provide better mental care to his patients using methods from both Eastern traditions and Western medicine in order to bring more harmony in mind and body. Professor Caycedo was an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical School of Barcelona and a doctor, neurologist and psychiatrist at Barcelona Hospital Clinic. From its use in the medical environment, Sophrology quickly evolved into a discipline that can support a wider audience, to help manage stress, improve sleep and achieve a sense of balance and wellbeing that can benefit people of all ages. It is extremely popular in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain: its use has spread to schools, maternity hospitals, private clinics, sport and corporate environments to name just a few.
It combines elements of meditation, visualisation, breathing, relaxation and body awareness exercises. Its practice is simple and adaptable to modern life. The way a Sophrology session works is very simple: you sit comfortably, with your eyes closed, and you will be guided by your Sophrologist’s voice through a series of simple breathing and relaxation exercises. The exercises aim to help you reach a balanced state where your body is fully relaxed and your mind is more focused. That will establish a deeper connection with yourself in the present moment and allow you to use visualisation, gentle movement or specific breathing techniques. During a session you can gently access your inner resources and learn to better deal with whatever is in the way of your well-being. Through Sophrology, we learn to live in the present moment, prepare for our future positively and to stay true to ourselves instead of reacting to what happens to us. Therefore, Sophrology is both a stress-management tool and a self-development tool.
Is there a greater significance to practicing Sophrology today?- What is the impact it could have on your life?
Sophrology is a great answer to today’s rapid pace of life and pressures from society. By knowing ourselves better and learning simple ways to better adapt to our environment, we are more likely to find a life that truly is in tune with our needs and feel empowered in our choices and decisions. At BeSophro, we recently launched a social media campaign about values. We asked people what are the main values they live by, as it is a topic which is part of the practice of Sophrology. Most people replied that family, friendships, honesty, integrity are their reasons for living. Our society needs to have a deep connection to values, and today more than ever, as we get bombarded with bad news and we might feel discouraged or hopeless. Sophrology is a way to help us reconnect with our core values, focus on what is important and let go of what is unnecessary and what no longer serves us. It is as simple as concentrating on our breathing and taking 10 minutes out of our busy schedule to listen to our own bodies, relax our muscles, give our brain a bit of rest. Taking that time out is so important as it helps us achieve a sense of perspective.
The impact of taking a break to practise Sophrology can make a difference in your quality of life. If, for example, you suffer from chronic stress and can’t sleep well at night, by practising dynamic relaxation (another term to define Sophrology) you can learn to release negative thoughts that make you feel anxious.
At the start of a Sophrology session you agree with your practitioner what outcome you would like to achieve, for example get better sleep. In other words, you take an active role in your own well-being and are given the tools to support your path.
When and how to practice Sophrology
The good news about practising Sophrology is that you don’t need any special equipment or be somewhere specific. First, it is recommended that you take a few classes with a practitioner first to get familiar with it. Once you learn the technique, you can choose to practise Sophrology anytime and anyplace. For example, if you need to travel by train to get to work, you can listen to a Sophrology session recording and do some breathing exercises. At BeSophro, we always provide you with the recording of your session, so you can practise at home or on the road. You can choose to do your practice first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening before going to bed; alternatively, you can carve out 10 minutes from your lunch break to relax and recharge. You only need to find a place where you won’t be disturbed or interrupted for 10 minutes.
How to learn Sophrology
The best way to learn Sophrology is to attend either a group class or a one-to-one class. You can find classes in Central London at BeSophro in South Molton Street.
Learn more about BeSophro individual Sophrology sessions: http://www.be-sophro.co.uk/individual-sessions/
Learn more about BeSophro group sessions: http://www.be-sophro.co.uk/how-can-besophro-help/besophro-group-corporate-sessions/