We have to stretch our muscles and exercise them, right? In the same way, we have to train and develop our mental capacities. Sophrology basically exists to help us develop our potential as much as possible. It deals equally with the mental and physical parts of us.
Sophrology has been ambitiously labelled “the science of human consciousness.” But a lot of people also see it as a group of relaxation techniques. So let’s combine those two ideas: sophrology is a scientific field that can help you relax during stressful situations.
What exactly do we mean when we say stress?
Scientists say that stress is something that our bodies constantly produce. In fact, a body without any stress is a dead body. You always want to have at least a little bit of stress. But we’re not talking about the kind of stress people are talking about when they say “I’m stressed.”
Stress is basically a non-specific way the body responds to anything you ask it to do. It’s a physiological and psychological response. There are also gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and glandular changes that come along with it.
A lot of people think there’s nothing, or not much, you can do when you’re stressed. Handling the challenges and emotions of life well is definitely a skill. The good news is that it’s a skill you can work on.
How does sophrology help you with stress?
Sophrology was first created in the 1960’s by Alfonso Caycedo. He was a Colombian psychiatric doctor who was working in Madrid. He brought in practices from yoga, Buddhism, and Zen to help treat his patients.
This is how sophrology also ended up becoming a way of preventing and reducing stress, as well as a path towards greater self-awareness, like we said. But you can’t understand sophrology just by learning about the theories. The truth is that experience is always the best way to learn, especially with this discipline.
The Caycedo Method
The Caycedo Method is like the practical side of sophrology. It takes most of its inspiration from Eastern practices like yoga, Buddhism, and Zen. Alfonso Caycedo adapted them to fit our modern-day outlook and lifestyle.
What exactly is the Caycedo Method? Let’s take a look at it now.
Caycedo’s dynamic relaxation
Caycedo’s dynamic relaxation (CDR) is the main method used in sophrology. It involves relaxation techniques, along with physical exercises and mental strategies. They all have specific goals, like managing everyday stress.
When you’re doing it, you try to learn how to look inward. First, you start to become aware of your body. Then you move on to your mind, and you end with your emotions.
This process of becoming aware helps you get better control over your physical tension, thoughts, and uncomfortable emotions. When you do it, you’re learning to make your negative habits into positive ones. Over time, you’ll also start to have a calmer attitude and be more conscious of your values and other people’s.
Caycedo’s dynamic relaxation is made up of twelve levels that are make up a consistent, structured methodology. The main goal is for you to develop, bit by bit, a bodily, mental, emotional, behavioral, axiological, and social self-awareness. The end goal is to help reduce stress.
The way it does this is by using relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and psychophysical strategies. The point is to live a calmer daily life, create positive habits, and develop existential values.
The techniques generally take between 10 to 15 minutes. You use them to work on things related to your past, present, and future. There’s also always an emphasis on positive experiences.
Just think about how an negative emotional experience can have a negative effect on your mind-body balance. In the same way, a positive emotional experience will affect everything about you too. Sophrology’s goal is to help you focus on the positive side of your day.
It teaches you to experience the positive side of yourself (positive somatization) and become aware of all the small, positive moments you have every day. According to Dr. Caycedo, when you push anything positive towards some part of your consciousness, it will have a positive effect on every part of you.