By Michelle Botes
"Sophrology is a branch of neurological medicine that studies the human consciousness and its positive modifications through practice of specific methodology, inspired in great far eastern yogic sources.-- Anonymous
For most English speakers, upon hearing the word “Sophrology”, nothing comes to mind.
Yet, when you speak to a Swiss or French national, they are likely to know what it is and might even tell you that they practice it regularly.
French speakers have been practicing this discipline in business, sports, medicine and education for many years. So you might ask what is this technique and why don’t we know about it? Sophrology is a science that combines the Western philosophies of psychiatry and psychotherapy with Eastern philosophies of Yoga, Zen and Buddhism. It is a series of mental and physical exercises that helps a person relax and focus their mind.
These exercises are short, easy to remember and can be done anywhere, any time. When practised regularly, they train your mind and body to become healthier and stronger.
It all started when a Colombian born psychiatrist, Prof. Alfonso Caycedo, in 1960 became frustrated with the way traumatised war victims from World War II were treated. He wanted to find a better way of healing patients without the use of medicine or chemicals. He studied the Eastern principles extensively, combined it with his medical profession of psychiatry and developed the science, today known as Sophrology.
Caycedo came to Switzerland to do research with Binswanger, a pioneer of phenomenology in the psychiatric world, there he met a Swiss doctor, Raymond Abrezol.
Abrezol was intrigued by the method and ended up using it to coach the Swiss ski team to Olympic gold medals.
He introduced this method into France and Switzerland and for many years, this discipline was only taught in French.
In 2000, Scottish-born Dorna Wilson-Revie completed her Masters Degree Diploma in the discipline with Caycedo, translated the method into English and in 2006 opened the first school in the world to teach Professional Sophrologist Diploma courses in English.
The regular practice of the method has reported benefits such as improved self-confidence, improved mental and physical health and improved memory. It aids greatly to reduce the effects of stress and it improves sleep. The list of benefits is literally endless.
Globally, the discipline is becoming known and is being utilised in more and more areas. Many professional sports men and women in the twenty first century are working with Sophrologist as part of their training.
Big multinational companies have Sophrologists working with their key personnel in order to reduce the effects of stress and reduce absenteeism.
Hospitals in Switzerland use Sophrologists to prepare patients for MRI’s, surgery and even child birth.
Many schools have realised that the benefits of regular practice help their students cope better with exam stress.
With life becoming more demanding, it is easy to grab a pain killer or pour yourself another glass of wine. By using chemicals to cope, we are only compounding the problem.
The natural answer seems to be in the science of sophrology, not only to cope with everyday stresses, but to become a better version of ourselves.
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