Last night, I noticed that I was shivering while having a conversation outside after dinner. It wasn’t really cold, but I couldn’t stop shaking (perhaps in anticipation of today’s blizzard). I reminded myself that the temperature was tolerable, as I stood there wondering why my body was behaving as if I were standing in the middle of a huge freezer.
Then, I told myself that my body was warm and relaxed, and I suddenly stopped shivering. I no longer felt cold, and I stood outside for quite a while longer without any discomfort. In a matter of seconds, my body started to behave as if the temperature had spiked.
The Effect of Autogenics on the Mind
“My body is warm and relaxed” is a modification I made to an autogenics meditation that I learned back in September at the Neurosculpting® Institute in Denver. I’ve been combining autogenics (a form of self-hypnosis) with Neurosculpting® ever since, occasionally with clients but mainly as a way to help my mind wind down at the end of the day. I like the familiarity of the Neurosculpting® structure, so I have enjoyed playing with ways to combine it with other meditation modalities.
As part of the autogenics training course, we were encouraged to use imagery that calms us in such a way that it leads to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and general relaxation. For “My body is warm,” we could imagine scenes such as sitting in front of a warm fire, curling up under a blanket, or standing outside in the hot sun.
This appealed to me because I have used similar visualization techniques since childhood, so I knew that it works for me. The added bonus now is that, when I sit in meditation for extended periods of time, my brain becomes even more familiar with the specific verbal cues that are used in autogenics.
How this played out last night:
Instead of having to stand there for five to 10 minutes picturing myself bundled up in multiple blankets …while drinking chamomile tea…in front of a bonfire…on a hot summer day…I simply told myself “My body is warm and relaxed.” Just like that, my brain switched gears.
This immediate response was based on a principle called “Hebb’s Law,” which tells us that “neurons that fire together wire together.”
My brain has associated the autogenics verbal cues with a feeling of relaxation, and my body reacts accordingly. My ability to reorient myself so quickly isn’t something that happened overnight, however. It’s taken months of priming my neural pathways through regular practice.
That’s one of my favorite aspects of learning how to rewire my brain. Whereas my ideal days include extended time for meditation, I can draw on those same techniques even while I’m going about my daily activities. All of that said, today I’m grateful to be bundled up at home as I watch the beautiful snow fall outside.
The Neurosculpting® Institute hosts special events throughout the year, such as Dr. Norman Katz’s Autogenics workshop. To learn more about similar events, check out our schedule.
#neurosculpting #cynthiabeard #hebbslaw #autogenics #drnormankatz #meditation #mindfulness
Cynthia has practiced meditation most of her life, although she didn’t realize that was what she was doing when she was a child. She discovered Neurosculpting® as part of her preparation for a transformative trip to post-earthquake Haiti in 2012. In the midst of massive trauma, a meditation she had learned from Lisa Wimberger is what allowed her to navigate an intensely difficult situation on the ground in Haiti. She was immediately hooked and jumped at the chance to undertake the Tier 1 facilitator training in 2013. Since then she has also completed Tier 2 training and is excited about contributing to the expansion of the Neurosculpting® modality.
Cynthia is also a lifelong musician who holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Texas. In its own way, her doctoral dissertation is intimately connected to the meditative work that Cynthia is so enthusiastic about.
Cynthia is actively involved in social change movements, and she believes that meditation is integral to healing our society’s collective wounds. She enjoys bringing Neurosculpting® into spaces that are focused on creating a better world for us all, and providing a safe, nurturing environment for those who desire to cultivate compassion and empathy.