Are you struggling to stick to new goals, a new health and fitness regime or a new diet?
What is the cause of your struggle? Sometimes, we can’t stick to our new goals because our daily life and our old habits take over: we are too busy, too stressed, or both. Something is in our way.
Luckily, there is a solution: we only need to re-learn how to feel more focused. It’s about the way we feel and allowing ourselves to dedicate some time to clear thinking or stagnant emotions, without any judgement.
Sophrology can help you feel calmer and start afresh as if you had just started working on your new goals for the first time. Sophrology is a dynamic relaxation technique based on breathing and visualisation exercises that can make it easier for you to feel more centred and relaxed.
Here are some tips to help you keep focused on your goals using Sophrology.
1. Stop Judging Yourself and Tune Within to See What Is Really Happening
The first step to be successful in your resolutions is to stop being hard on yourself. This is something that you can learn over time, as you may need to un-learn years of self-criticism. It might be time to ask yourself why it is hard for you to stick to your plans. Are your plans serving you and your life in a positive way? Have you been realistic in setting your goals? How do you feel in your body when you think about your goals? Are you engaging fully with your aims because you think you have to, or do you feel genuinely happy about your plans? Do you have the time and the energy to reach what you have set for yourself? Would you need some help to achieve what you wish for? How do you feel emotional about it all?
These are the types of questions you might find useful to ask yourself to set realistic goals and to tune into the real motivation for doing them. If an emotion like frustration, anger, fear etc is in the way, the first thing to do is to simply acknowledge it and giving it some space. Simply inhale, tense your entire body and all muscles, increasing this feeling you have; as you exhale through the mouth, you can start to let go of the tension and any emotion that is stopping you. Repeat this a few times until you feel it starts to clear. Once you feel less emotionally attached, you can observe your situation more impartially: do you need to reassess some of your plans?
Sophrology teaches us to see things as if it was the first time. This means that we can look at ourselves and start again from a clean slate. To achieve this non-judgemental attitude, we need to take a short break from our busy life, close our eyes and breathe slowly. Ideally, you can learn how to take a mindful break in a group Sophrology class, but the key point is to avoid distractions (you can switch your phone off, for example), take a nice deep breath in while expanding your abdomen, close your eyes and slowly let the air out, deflating your belly. Keeping your eyes closed, continue this slow breathing for 3 minutes tuning into the sensations in your body. Try not to judge them. Just listen and accept what they are, be the observer. Taking time out is important to break the cycle of negativity, particularly if you catch yourself being self-critical.
2. Help Your Brain Believe It Is Possible
Your brain is you ally. When you are in a state of relaxation with eyes closed, and you tune into your breath, connecting with body sensations and using positive visualisations, your brain and entire consciousness register these changes. You are literally helping yourself to reach your goals by achieving a sense of relaxation.
Expanding from the breathing exercise, after you start feeling more relaxed, you can think of a calming word and use it as an anchor for the session. Say, for example, that you choose ‘confidence’ or ‘motivation’ as your anchoring word. You can use the breath to bathe your whole body with your anchoring word, feeling a sensation of wellbeing. You can then start visualising yourself positively in the future: create a picture of yourself when you have already achieved your goal. Take your time to feel all the sensations and notice any differences in your body: does your body feel less tense? If you feel some tension, take another deep breath in from your tummy and breathe out letting all your muscles relax.
3. Start Each Day as a New Beginning
Sophrology teaches us to see things in a new light, as if it was the very first time. In other words, sometimes we feel tired and weary and we want more from life but we feel frustrated and we lack motivation. By practising mindfulness and dynamic relaxation with Sophrology, we learn to live in the present moment and we learn to let go of all the layers of emotions we put on things. If we observe a tree, for example, we are simply looking at its structure, its colours, the shade it projects on the ground. It is not our concern what will happen to the tree in the future, if it will be struck by lightning or live on for hundreds of years. We want to be able to enjoy its shade and its colours for what they are, right in the present moment. We can do the same with ourselves and the way we see ourselves: we don’t need to concern ourselves with our past or our future. What we can do is look at what we can achieve today and set things in motion, or simply be grateful for what we have.
When it comes to changing our habits and aiming to achieve new goals, we need to step out of our comfort zone, which anchors us to the past. However, if we take each day as a new day and a new chance to do something positive for ourselves, the past and the future will no longer be a cause for worry. We will be so entrenched in the moment that we will be carrying on those activities that will help us to achieve our goals.
During a Sophrology session we can learn to anchor a gesture with a thought, or feeling, or a word: for example, by pressing two fingers together, we anchor a positive thought to a gesture. By repeating the gesture in a different context, perhaps when we feel demoralised for not completing a task, we can transport ourselves into a positive feeling because we have linked a gesture to a feeling. This simple technique will help us move from a negative state of mind to a positive one.
The key message is that, in order to achieve new goals, the best state of being is one of relaxation and non-judgement. Some thoughts, particularly negative and critical ones, can stop our progress. However, by regularly checking in with our inner resources, our own compass, so to speak, we can keep focused without distraction. As long as we practise dynamic relaxation on a regular basis, we are giving ourselves the best chance to keep motivated.
If you’d like to learn more about Sophrology, you can have a look at the BeSophro website www.be-sophro.co.uk where you will also find a calendar of events for group classes and information about one-to-one sessions and corporate workshops.