Mindfulness means paying attention in the present moment, non-judgementally, instead of projecting our mind into the future or casting it into the past. When we are worried, we are rushing or we are distracted, we are not living in the present moment.
When psychiatrist and neurologist Alfonso Caycedo created Sophrology in 1960, having spent a number of years studying meditation and yoga, notably in India and Japan, he had in mind to improve the quality of life and mental health of psychiatric patients. By combining Eastern philosophies and practices with Western medicine and approaches, Professor Caycedo created a unique and contemporary approach for consciousness. It uses rapidly expanded beyond the medical environment to become the self-development and stress-management method of choice on the Continent for the last 50 years. Sophrology or 'the study of the consciousness in harmony' combines meditation, breathing and relaxation techniques, gentle movement and visualisation in a simple and efficient way, so it can be practiced in today's fast- paced life.
Reaching a state of mindfulness is not always an easy task, especially for those who are not used to staying still or whose nervous system is overactive. In order to calm the mind and support the learning or meditation, Sophrology offers a step-by-step practice, which starts by a sitting body scan and rapidly invites the person who practises it to let go of observed tensions through the breath and then tune into positive sensations or a positive word through the in-breath.
Levels of Sophrology
There are 12 Levels of Sophrology that show the specificity of the practice.
In Level 1, you discover how the body is used as an anchor in Sophrology, to feel present, confident and grounded.
Once you have mastered this, Level 2 teaches contemplation and preparing for a positive future.
Level 3 is about being at peace with the past.
Level 4 is the connection of past present future and values.
Level 5 works with sounds, and so on. Each level has a unique theme with a view to help you progress in your journey.
Mindfulness is a self-development technique that can help us improve the quality of our life and improve our mental well-being. The key with mindfulness is to stop living in our heads and start noticing the world around us and be more in touch with our feelings. In other words, mindfulness is about being aware of both what is inside and outside of us, but without feeling overwhelmed.
Similarly to mindfulness, Sophrology is also a self-development technique that focuses on relaxation, staying in the present moment and making positive changes in our life.
Sophrology follows a specific protocol to mindfully prepare for future events, for example an important presentation, or preparing for birth.
How do you learn Sophrology? Ideally, you should start by doing either a group class or a one-to-one session. Your practitioner will show you a series of exercises to help you relax, to connect with your breath and to visualise a positive outcome for the session. The exercises are very simple and they can be performed any time and any place. They do not require special training, but regular practice really helps to get the best results.
An example of a Sophrology exercise is to close your eyes, breathe in, hold your breath for a few seconds while tensing up all the muscles in your body. Then, as you exhale, release all the muscles and let go. Enjoy the sensation of calm and rest for a few minutes to allow the body and mind to slow down and take into account the work you have just done.
Once you have learned a few exercises with a practitioner you can do them at home, ideally for 10-15 minutes each day. Your practitioner will also give you a recording of your session to help you practise the exercises.
Conclusion: mindfulness is a journey of awareness and a constant adaptation of the situation you find yourself in. By offering tools and practices to deal with daily life as well as strengthening the connection between body and mind, Sophrology will naturally help you to become more mindful, having explored the infinite possibilities of consciousness. Find out more about Sophrology: www.be-sophro.co.uk