WHAT IS SOPHROLOGY?
Sophrology, also called ‘dynamic relaxation’ is a mental wellbeing practice, blending Eastern philosophies with Western science. Belonging to the family of meditative practices, Sophrology uses breathing, relaxation, gentle movement and visualisation techniques to quieten the mind and ground you in the body.
Sophrology empowers you to feel calm and grounded even in stressful situations, helping you with anxiety, gaining more restful sleep, and unlocking your inner potential to reach your goals and transform your life one day at a time.
Sophrology was founded by Professor Caycedo, a Spanish neuropsychiatrist, in the 1960’s to offer a gentle therapeutic approach for his patients, drawing from his experience as a neuropsychiatrist, his studies into Greek philosophy, phenomenology and autogenic training, and his travels to India, Tibet and Japan to study yoga, Zen and Buddhism.
Up until then, invasive procedures such as electroshock and insulin-induced comas were commonly administered to patients who suffered from mental health conditions. Professor Caycedo wanted to find a more integrative way to support these patients and help improve their daily life.
In light of this holistic vision, Sophrology is a combined word from the Greek roots: harmony (Sos), consciousness (Phren) and study or science (Logos). Therefore, Sophrology means ‘the science of consciousness in harmony’. Derived from Plato’s ‘sophrosyne’, a concept that includes a state of harmony in mind, body and soul, bringing a sense of tranquillity.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT SOPHROLOGY?
- A simple and practical way to reap the benefits of meditation anywhere, anytime to help you thrive in modern life
- Quick, guided and easy exercises for body and mind – requiring only 10 – 15 mins a day
- Helps manage stress, anxiety, embrace restful sleep, prepare for important life events and perform at your best
- Meets you where you are in your self-development journey and provides a powerful tool to expand your awareness without long analysis
- Helps you connect more to your body and tap into the power of YOUR consciousness as a never-failing way to guide you in YOUR life
- Helps you cultivate the things that truly matter in YOUR life and build a positive future
WHY DOES SOPHROLOGY WORK?
Each component of the Sophrology practice has a specific role to play on either the mind or the body. It is the combination of these components and their specific intention at exploring the different modalities of consciousness that makes the practice so deceptively effective and impactful. Each component has also a specific impact on our physiology.
- Relaxation stimulates alpha brain waves, allows recuperation and gives us access to another level of awareness where emotional and psychological transformation are strongly supported.
- Breathing balances the autonomic nervous system (responsible for making the body function), oxygenates the body and allows us to tap into the mind-body connection.
- Mindful movement helps us increase our focus, teaches us to let go of unnecessary thoughts and accumulated stress, and helps balance the somatic nervous system.
- Visualisation allows us to reframe our experiences working on the brain’s neuroplasticity and encouraging imagination, creativity, concentration etc.
- Meditation influences hormones and neurotransmitters (lower cortisol and increase serotonin notably), improving immune function, balancing emotions, helping to prevent heart disease and teaching us to go beyond the mind’s chatter to find a deeper appreciation of existence.
HOW IS SOPHROLOGY IS USED IN DAILY LIFE?
Caycedo developed specific Sophrology protocols to help with the issues of modern life making it an efficient therapeutic tool to help people suffering from stress, anxiety, insomnia, lack of confidence, phobias, weight issues or preparing for important life events, like birth, exams or expatriation.
From the 1970’s, Sophrology started to spread outside the medical world and began to be applied in education, sport, corporate and social environments throughout France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. In the mid-1990’s it became reimbursed by Swiss health insurance policies and it is now a well-respected and widely used stress management and self-development method in Continental Europe.
Currently, through the work of Dominique Antiglio, acclaimed Sophrologist, author of best-selling book “The Life-changing Power of Sophrology”, and Founder of leading Sophrology platform BeSophro, Sophrology is spreading from Continental Europe to the UK and beyond.
As a stress management technique, Sophrology is gentle and effective. It is intuitive to learn and doesn’t require special skills, making it a useful tool for hectic lifestyles and notably in the corporate world to increase productivity, decrease anxiety and prevent burn out.
The simplicity of the practice is due to its work with movement and body awareness, which enables people to become more aware of their needs, tension, emotions and positive sensations in a modern world where we are overstimulated with so much information, media, and work/school demands.
As a complementary approach to allopathic medicine, Sophrology is used in many European hospitals in maternity units and sleep clinics, and it is often recommended in IVF clinics and in palliative care. In France and Switzerland, Sophrology treatments are reimbursed by insurance companies.
Sophrology is also used in the education and sport environment, to help children and adults gain confidence, prepare for important events such as competition and exams, increase focus and support the development of each individual’s ability and potential.
EXPLORING THE SCIENCE BEHIND SOPHROLOGY
To study the effectiveness of Sophrology, experts have completed prospective controlled studies using tools such as psychometric tests and taking groups of participants through stress-management and sleep Sophrology programmes to manage professional and personal stress.
In Spain, a study from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Sofrocay, Academy for Caycedian Sophrology, under the direction of Dr. Koen van Rangelrooij, Dr. Natalia Caycedo and Dr. Antonio Bulbena measured the impact of Sophrology for people suffering from anxiety and depression. It showed that Sophrology helped to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and improved the overall mood in participants. Using psychometric tests and a controlled group who was just receiving theoretical information, the intervention group received 12 Sophrology sessions over 4 weeks (3 hours a week).
From the same centre in Barcelona, the same team led another study (prospective and comparative) on symptoms of chronic insomnia. It was conducted on 70 patients showing an improved sleep quality after just 5 weeks of practice and even better results after 3 and 6 months.
France has produced many studies on Sophrology. Notably a 2000 report from the sleep hospital Hôtel-Dieu in Paris found that Sophrology is an effective treatment for chronic insomnia, with patients showing a marked reduction in anxiety and depression. Another study from 2009 by the same institute showed that Sophrology helped to improve acute respiratory problems in adult patients, reducing pain and discomfort, and lowering patients’ heart rate and blood pressure.
A 2020 study in France showed that the majority of 140 patients suffering from tinnitus reported a reduced intrusiveness of their condition after practising between 6 and 8 Sophrology sessions over the course of 2-4 months.
Researchers also found Sophrology to be effective in children: for example, children suffering from asthma experienced an improvement in their breathing and oxygenation levels after practising Sophrology alongside receiving standard treatment.
The Institut Curie in France regularly offers Sophrology sessions to cancer patients to help them with their recovery. Patients have reported having fewer or milder side effects such as nausea and fatigue from invasive chemotherapy or radiotherapy and a better quality of life. Visualisation exercises help patients to relax, manage difficult emotions and give them reassurance.
If you practise Sophrology regularly, for as little as 10-15 min a day, you will rapidly notice how you are able to find a sense of calm and achieve a state of balance in daily life. The genius of Caycedo is to have created a simple and accessible way for everyone to unveil consciousness in a world that more than ever asks us to take responsibility for our mental and physical well-being. Beyond the stress-management and self-development tools, the aim of Sophrology is to experience life with a renewed sense of vitality and awareness, and positively transform consciousness to create a meaningful existence.
If you are interested in starting your Sophrology journey, you can access a whole range of Sophrology practises online at besophro.com which are suitable for anyone.