Buchinger Wilhelmi is about more than fasting. Thirty years ago, they were practicing yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and other “alternative” therapies long before they hit the mainstream in the Western world. The one I hadn’t heard of is autogenic training.
They have a basic routine that they’d like everyone to follow when waking up:
- say a “please” or “thank you” (avoiding the word “prayer” to be sensitive to all religions)
- exercise in some way, preferably per World Health organization exercise recommendations*
- take a contrast shower, i.e., start with hot water for about 3 minutes, then switch to cold water for a minute and repeat for 5-10 minutes. This is based on the work of Sebastian Kneipp, a German priest credited for utilizing hydrotherapy in naturopathic medicine.
- spend 10 minutes performing autogenic training
Items #1 through #3 are pretty well known now. However, this was the first exposure I had to #4 — autogenic training — which is really a self-hypnosis technique designed to help you relax, regulate body functions, and even clear your mind. It was developed by a German psychiatrist J.H. Schultz. Here at Buchinger, there are guided group sessions to introduce guests to the benefits, and I was hypnotized! However, autogenic training is designed to be done on your own.
The concept is similar to meditation, but rather than clearing your mind, autogenic training is formulaic, with a sequenced progression, and it might be an easier introduction to those who have not practiced meditation. I have personally thrown this into the mix since coming here!
You can do the autogenic training lying or seated. It basically works through suggestions that you keep repeating to yourself, imagining a series of sensations until you actually feel them!
The suggestions I go through now are as follows:
- “I am aware of my breathing, but I am not changing it.”
- “As I focus on my breathing, it becomes calm and regular. I am calm.”
- “My arms and legs are heavy” / “My whole body is heavy”
- “My arms and legs are warm” / “My whole body is warm”
- “My solar plexus (abdomen) is warm”
- “My heartbeat is calm and regular”
- “My forehead is cool and fresh”
Note that traditional autogenic training focuses on breathing after the heartbeat, not at the beginning as I do. However, I’ve found that my focusing on breathing first helps to “center” me. Perhaps this is the training I’ve done in meditation that helps center the “monkey brain.” I prefer it this way.
The concept is to start your day with autogenic training but come back to it if things get stressful during the day, or even when you need to relax before going to go to bed.
The Wikipedia article on autogenic training is actually pretty good if you want a reference.
Try it out and make it part of your daily routine!
* World Health Organization exercise recommendations
- Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
- For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physicalactivity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.