While Sophrology has been in France & Switzerland for over 50 decades, it’s just become the buzz in American wellness circles and is set to be the latest wellness trend in Australia.
Staying ahead of the curve, we reached out to one of Australia’s existing leaders in Sophrology, Sarah Reeves, to get the down low on this new-but-old mindfulness practice.
In this easy to digest Q&A format below, Sara shares exactly what Sophrology is, the techniques, benefits, who it’s good for and the history behind the practice. Enjoy!
Sarah, can you tell us: What is Sophrology exactly?
At it’s core sophrology is a guided practice of mind and body connection. The result of sophrology is self awareness, inner harmony and ultimately, personal transformation.
The breakdown of the word Sophrology is sos (harmony) phren (consciousness) logos (science).
It is differentiated from other meditation or mindfulness practices based on the combination of a number of principles:
- Developing the mind-body link
- The sophrolominal state (the alert-relaxed state of practicing)
- Breath with intention
- Combining movement and stillness, and
- The positive intention.
How long have you been practicing and what inspired you to get into this work?
I have personally been practicing regular Sophrology since 2015 when I discovered it, thanks to a serendipitous email exchange with a French midwife Sophrologist. Being a midwife myself working in a local hospital and am aware of a high proportion of women struggling with anxieties in their daily life then exacerbated by pregnancy. I wanted to learn tools to help women who are feeling these pressures and struggles, better navigate pregnancy with a greater sense of control, comfort and self confidence. And help them focus on developing trusting in their body. I quickly learned that in France many midwives are also Sophrologists. It’s a beautiful, complimentary pairing of skills.
Through regular practice of the methods I have experienced my own inner transformation. Now I feel more calm, grounded and able to act rather than react to stressors. At any time I know I have the tools behind me, to fall back on.
What are the benefits of Sophrology?
The focus of Sophrology is to link the mind and the body. Once this link is established and then developed, the individual begins to re-hear the body’s messages. We’ve long been tuned out from these, however the body knows when to slow down versus when it has enough energy to continue. And it knows how to stay in the moment of calm, versus outspoken over-reaction. Ultimately, our bodies have an incredible ability to gauge and respond to situations without negative emotions. Therefor, by strengthening this connection, balanced emotional response, to both every day and bigger situations, results.
When the mind and body link and therefore greater consciousness is developed, the result is:
- Reduction in stress
- Balancing of anxieties
- Better sleeping
- Stronger coping abilities
- Boosted confidence & success
- Greater ability to focus & concentrate etc.
As a result, the individual taking back control of their life, deciding how they want to feel.
Who is Sophrology good for?
Sophrology is good for anyone who wants to:
- Better coping with stress or anxiety
- Better manage and navigate difficult turns or events in life.
- Thinks meditation just “isn’t for them”.
- Work towards a goal such as a wedding, a sporting event, exams.
Ultimately it’s good for anyone at any age who wants more guidance and self-awareness.
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What is the history of Sophrology?
Sophrology originates from the works and dedication of Prof. Alfonso Caucasiana – a neuropsychiatrist who wanted to heal his mentally distressed patients, who were in a clinical setting without medication.
The works have evolved from their inception in 1960 with input from the Professor’s colleagues Schulz (with hypnosis, Autogenic training); Husserl (with phenomenology).
There’s also strong influences from Tibetan and Zen Buddhism as well as influencer from yogic physical and meditation practices.
What are the basic techniques, exercises and methods of Sophrology?
If you were to ask me to do an “off the cuff” Sophrology exercise right now the session would start with some very simple breathing. This would be tailored to the client’s knowledge and experience. As we know breath awareness is an integral part of present moment awareness. Then we’d go through some simple sophrology techniques. For example:
- Fist clench and release
- Head nod
- Squeezing, tightening, tensing every muscle in the body, holding it to let it build up and then releasing ALL the tension.
- Repeating the above.
- Then a gentle visualisation to reinforce a positive memory/moment.
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This is a very simple example, demonstrating mini exercises anyone can do – anywhere, any time.
The most critical factors include doing each step as though it were the first time you’ve breathed. As though it’s the first time you’ve moved your hand or head in this way and noticing objectively: What does it feel like and what is the sensation in the body? You must fully focus on the sensations in the body. And repeat the exercises daily or as often as reasonable.
If a client has a specific concern they’d like to focus on, then the session and exercises are tailored to their needs. No special equipment, clothing or prior experience is ever needed.
Where can one go to experience Sophrology with an expert?
I do private and small group sessions in my home in Bronte, NSW and run occasional larger group introduction sessions locally in Sydney. Additionally I offer Skype/Zoom sessions for anyone, anywhere. Alternatively, I‘m also in the process of creating videos for purchase, for clients to access in their own time.
What Sophrology training and certification is available for those wondering how to become a Sophrologist?
Great question, the more Sophrologists the better. Currently, I’m the only Sophrologist I know of in Australia.
Most training is offered over the course of 12-14months so it’s quite extensive. Given that Sophrology is mainly available in Europe and U.K. the only option for training at this stage is:
- Move to Europe, or
- Train with my teacher who provides a part-online, part in-house (in Switzerland) course.
Lastly, you can find more details from Sophrology Center Online http://www.sophrologycenteronline.com/ about the Diploma course.
Now it’s your turn. Do you think sophrology is the new mindfulness practice or have you tried sophrology? Pop your questions and thoughts in the comment section below.
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