In order for sophrological therapy to be effective, subjects must first be completely relaxed. The same is true for autogenic training and yoga nidra.
In tribal cults like voodoo or Ubanda, in mesmerism, trance therapy, etc. induction is usually achieved through the repetition of some type of physical activity.
Caycedo had the idea of developing a series of what he called dynamic relaxation exercises. He collected techniques from various eastern sources (yoga, Zen Buddhism, etc.), evaluated their effectiveness by measuring results on an EEG (electroencephalogram) and then organized the best of them into a three-step method. Why did he turn to the east for inspiration? Simply because eastern philosophies seem more oriented towards exploring the workings of the inner mind than those developed here in the west - the separation of mind and body is so deeply engraved in our culture that, despite an overwhelming amount of research showing the fundamental link between the two, many people still cannot understand how physical exercise, for example, can have an impact on the way they think or feel.
Respecting the order in which human faculties evolved, Caycedo has subjects start with a series of physical exercises, based on postures and movements inspired by a form of yoga called raja yoga. This constitutes the first stage in his three-stage method. The second stage is based on various types of Buddhist and Hindu meditations, while the third stage is based on Zen techniques.
Dynamic relaxation, combining oriental and sophrological methods, is usually taught to groups. Entering a sophronic state greatly enhances the effects of physical movements, and makes them easier to learn. Most sophrological therapists combine autogenic training and dynamic relaxation, sometimes obtaining spectacular results, notably in patients suffering from psychosomatic problems.
Dynamic relaxation is Caycedo's most important contribution to sophrology. During autogenic training, the mind is aware of sensations that are ordinarily very difficult to perceive because the body is in a state of almost total repose. Dynamic relaxation, on the other hand, first stimulates muscles and organs, allowing the mind to concentrate on inner perceptions only during recuperation periods.
From a physiological point of view, it is this recuperation period that is most important. Caycedo was astonished to meet yogis in India who could provide perfect descriptions of their inner organs, without ever having seen an anatomical model or diagram. They could actually feel the inside of their body. And, in fact, the brain contains certain receptors, called proprioceptors, that most people hardly ever use. Yogis, on the other hand, develop these receptors to the point where they can feel, and even modify, physiological functions.
By devising a technique - dynamic relaxation - that provides the same results, Caycedo helped his patients achieve a balance of mind and body, and an awareness of their own physical makeup, enabling them to effectively combat a host of health problems of psychosomatic origin.
American therapists were working along the same lines when they developed an electronic biofeedback device: electrodes attached to a patient's body were used in place of proprioceptors, allowing researchers to detect physiological sensations that could then be transformed into auditory of visual signals.
Caycedo's approach was much more organic: instead of replacing unused cerebral circuits with a machine, he taught his patients how to develop their own proprioceptive faculties, in harmony with themselves.
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