Have you learnt to enjoy obstacles?
Inscription from a Tibetan stone
Seek total renewal again and again each day.
Reputedly from the bathroom of a Chinese Emperor
Chalk It Up To Morpheus
- Full self-hypnosis
- Trust yourself and relax
- Sleep with ease
- Sometimes we need to feel weird
A Light Heaviness
heaviness flowing in,
filled with heaviness,
whole body heavy and relaxed.
These words are standard for sessions of hypnosis and I repeat them frequently in my work. A sensation of heaviness in the muscles indicates deep relaxation: this is the muscles' way of telling the brain that they want to be left in peace and are unwilling to respond. It occurs of its own accord when we are very tired and when we are falling asleep.
A feeling of heaviness can be unpleasant, but if we only stop fighting it turns into a pleasant sense of langour. This is just what you should aim for if you are hoping to relax your muscles properly. Relax all tensions, free the breathing, make the Auto-Suggestion of warmth and then continue:
Right hand heavy
heaviness flows in like lead,
heavier and heavier,
hand is heavy...
and so on…
Imagine that your hand is a dumb-bell, that it is made of lead or filled with quick-silver, etc. Or just totally concentrate on it.
Loss of tension is sometimes quite naturally followed by a slight, pleasant sensation of heaviness which easily turns into drowsiness. So if you wish to remain awake, you should not spend too long concentrating on heaviness.
Heaviness combined with warmth:
Hand heavy and warm,
whole body warm,
As you become more relaxed, you can continue with:
A standard way of suggesting heaviness is first to induce it in each hand singly or both together, and then in the legs. When this is achieved, the whole body begins to feel heavy.
Whole body soft,
This is indeed a very light kind of heaviness. When it is achieved, when our breathing is free and sleepy, our face is relaxed and our whole body is filled with warmth, we are very nearly asleep. This may be considered self-hypnosis in the full sense of the term and you will find that it serves as an excellent background for Auto-Suggestion, like the time when we are drifting off to sleep. Use any verbal formula or any image you like; they will be most effective if coordinated with your breathing.
The only difficulty is maintaining the state of semi-wakefulness without falling asleep too quickly. But it is not that serious if you do, just make sure you concentrate very hard on the Auto-Suggestion you want before you suggest heaviness. This will give it time to impress itself in your subconscious mind. Set the alarm clock so that it wakes you with a click whenever you want. If you resent falling asleep on principle, then you can avoid doing so by using techniques for toning up.
If you are generally on edge and very active you may find it impossible or at least very difficult to induce heaviness: all your efforts will just seem to increase your tension. If you find this is so, miss this exercise out completely and concentrate instead on localised relaxation of different parts of the body. It is more than likely that the difficulty you have with heaviness is compensated for by your ability to induce warmth with particular ease.
However you get on with the rest of the body, your head should always remain calm.
A Request for the Night
Imagine you are in bed. This is the moment when all your worries about your illness or the chaotic state of your life, etc. are especially importunate and hard to bear. They overwhelm you completely and prevent you from thinking of anything else. At last, however, your thoughts begin to get confused. In these seconds before your sink into unconscious sleep start repeating quickly to yourself in a monotonous, voiceless whisper, without a hint of expression, just as if you have nothing to do with it and someone else is speaking for you: ‘It'll be okay. It'll be okay.’ Repeat this fifty times or so in the same indifferent tone, in the naively mechanical way that a child drones multiplication tables, until you finally sink into oblivion. Next morning, even after doing it only once, you will feel considerable relief. If you do this every day you will be surprised to find that your state of mind improves.
This is approximately the advice Emile Coue, a pioneer in introducing Auto-Suggestion into medical practice in Europe, gave his patients some time before Auto-Training had been devised, and with which he succeeded in curing physical and mental illness.
Like all innovations in the world of medicine, this simple technique was bound to meet with a varied reaction: a short-lived pinnacle of success, a trough of disillusionment illuminated by fleeting flashes of enthusiasm and, finally, almost complete obscurity. The wave of interest, which to some degree had itself contributed to the method's initial success, could not last forever.
The neglect, however, was undeserved, since Coue's method utilises some very important ideas: firstly, pre-sleep relaxation which is a state naturally conducive to self-hypnosis; secondly, the paradoxically indifferent tone, the semi-objective childlike muttering. This is a cunning psychological trick since, after all, you cannot possibly be totally unconcerned about something that will affect you significantly: indifference is simply a mask to reduce the sharp contrast between what you hope will happen and reality, thereby preventing any pessimistic predictions from taking the upper hand.
This technique is particularly useful in two instances: firstly, when it is vital to free yourself from some deep-seated worry which is persistently nagging at you (anything from an illness to unrequited love) and, secondly, on the eve of some especially important event (such as an exam, an interview, or a public appearance). Results will take some time in the former case, though they can be more immediate in the latter.
Relax completely and breathe in a sleepy way whilst making the Auto-Suggestion you require. If you are so worried about the next day that you cannot sleep from excessive tension, then consult your doctor regarding any medication that may help. Begin the Auto-Suggestion at the first hint of drowsiness. Use any formula you like.
If when you go to bed you order a solution to some difficult problem, for example, (‘I can do it’), the chances of success next day will increase, especially if you also repeat the suggestion as soon as you wake up.
Saint-Simon's servant used to rouse him each day with the words: ‘Time to get up, sir, there is some important work awaiting your attention!’ Although the servant may be lacking, the work is awaiting us just the same; keep this in mind and try to learn how to impress on your mind in the morning the kind of mood you want to have that day. Take yourself by surprise whilst still in a warm and drowsy half-sleep. If you have a tape-recorder then you can tape something suitable the night before (preferably words and music, but it is basically up to you) so that all you have to do in the morning is switch on, or set it to come on automatically. If you have a busy day in front of you and, like most of us, you like to lie in a little, the tape should aim to help you feel full of energy and determined within a very short time. It is ideal if it is also funny. (Humour never hurts.) If you cannot do this and even the radio is out of action, so much the better: switch on the mental tape you want as soon as you wake up. It is beneficial if the day can begin and end with some mental effort. We are especially receptive at these two times; once you have learnt how to relax deeply, you can reproduce this state whenever you like. Try to be your own hypnotist!
For several years now a colleague of mine has been using one or two 10-15 minute sessions of self-hypnosis and deep relaxation a day to manage a very full timetable with tremendous demands made on him by work and acquaintances and all on only 4-5 hours sleep a night. Although he would not recommend anyone else to try it, be has not any complaints and claims that, at present, it is the way he wants to live while he still can. He finds long and intensive self-hypnosis especially valuable before holding sessions of hypnosis with his patients. It is hard to believe that, only ten years ago, before be had mastered Auto-Training, this experienced hypnotist himself seemed to have every complex under the sun. Today, he looks much younger than his 56 years, he is bright and cheerful and his heart is unbelievably sound. He claims that what really keeps him going is being able to hypnotise himself whilst taking exercise: he can relax physically and emotionally and collect his thoughts whilst striding along at a brisk pace. If you should ever happen to be in Moscow and come across someone tearing along the pavement, muttering to himself with a slight Buddha-like smile hovering about his lips, you can be fairly sure that he is often to be found in one of the city's psychiatric hospitals (working there, of course).
Learn How to Sleep
Some prerequisites for a good night's sleep are fairly easy to control: a comfortable bed in a well-ventilated room, for example. However, it is more difficult to ensure that:
you go to bed at the optimum time;
you are ready for sleep.
It is a good idea to have a regular bedtime, although occasional variation does not do any harm. I am not thinking about the times when we opt to miss out on sleep at a party, playing bridge, or by sorting out the world's problems into the early hours: we have only ourselves to blame then. The question is what we can do when, for reasons beyond our control, we are prevented from going to sleep even though our body says it is high time we should.
If you start feeling tired early in the evening (either because you are an early bird, you tire easily, you are feeling a bit under the weather or have had a particularly exhausting day) try to stop everything as soon as you can, leave it all till next day (this is almost always possible, as long as you can overcome the inertia that keeps us trying to struggle on in the evening) and go to bed. Take note of how you feel and, if you are tired, use every opportunity there is to have a short nap whenever convenient.
If, by force of circumstance, you are still obliged to stay up later than you want, try to find a time to have a sleep or just to relax a little during the day, even if it is only for 5 minutes when traveling to or from work, say, or in any spare minutes you have. When forced to sleep less than you need (because you have a lot of work, for example, or a young baby) it is especially important to spend plenty of time in the fresh air and to avoid excesses of any kind. Above all, it is not the number of hours you sleep but how much your brain manages to recharge its centres governing tone in that time.
If, on the contrary, you are at your most alert and energetic in the evening, ( either you are a natural night bird or you have just acquired the habit) then you have no problems at all, as long as you do not have to get up too early in the mornings. If you do, however, then it may be worth trying to change your tone cycle. Use Auto-Training, since relaxing deeply will help you to go to sleep more quickly. Even if you sleep for only a short time, deep relaxation will refresh you sufficiently for you to feel well-rested next day. Be firm with yourself for a time and force yourself to get up early: this may help you alter your tone cycle. Relaxing during the day will also help you to get all the rest you need.
Sleep Is Irrelevant: It Is all a Question of Rest
"Is it really true that you start off worrying that you cannot sleep and then cannot sleep because you are worried?"
"It certainly is. It’s a classic vicious circle, but I have a very simple though effective solution."
"Stop wanting to go to sleep."
"What do you mean? I’m desperate for some sleep."
"Exactly, and you will drop off without any trouble at all once you stop thinking about it so much."
"But how can I do that?"
"It’s very simple. As you will agree, when you’re asleep your conscious mind is disconnected, that is, when you’re conscious you can’t be asleep, and vice versa. Although the conscious mind can never catch you asleep, it can prevent you from going to sleep and often does so by constantly asking if you’re still awake or not. And it can do this just when you’re finally about to drop off. You actually stop yourself from sleeping because you want to so much!"
Conversations of this sort are typical in the psychotherapist's consulting room.
Ninety per cent of the time it is not the insomnia itself but the psychological consequences of it, above all, the deep-seated conviction that you must sleep, that cause the trouble. You ought to sleep because everyone does at night and you used to yourself at one time; everyone knows that the norm is 7-8 hours a night. You must sleep because insomnia saps your mental and physical energy. How can you possibly do you job properly if you have not had enough sleep? You must sleep because if you cannot it means there must be something wrong with you. And so on…
More or less conscious arguments of this kind can be far from helpful. Sleep becomes a super value and the realisation that we are still awake is catastrophic. Even before we go to bed and when we have not started thinking about it consciously we are already subconsciously dreading the next night of torment. The paradoxical state has taken over: although we are desperate to get to sleep our perverse subconscious is furiously making sure that the opposing negative self-fulfilling prophesy comes true, that is, either we will not sleep a wink all night or, once we have woken up, there is absolutely no hope of our going back to sleep.
When we cannot sleep we always feel we are the only people in the world who are lying hopelessly awake and that no one else has ever suffered from insomnia.
Sleep is, of course, necessary but our brains and our tone cycle themselves can best judge just how much we need since they totally disregard the misleading preconceptions we have about normal requirements. It is as difficult to deprive the brain of the sleep it needs as it is to stop our own heart beating. The brain's ability to snatch enough sleep one way or another even when we are supposed to be staying awake is simply amazing. Despite all the torment, however, no one's ever died or gone mad from insomnia. Indeed, subjects who volunteer to be deprived of sleep for several days only need 10 to 12 hours of sound sleep to return to normal.
People differ greatly in the amount of sleep they need. It is also perfectly natural for personal requirements to alter significantly depending on a number of different factors: age, climate, the season and the weather, work, food and emotional stress, etc.
It is sensible for anyone who finds sleep a problem to consult a doctor. Sometimes it is necessary, under strict medical supervision, to take a course of tranquillizers or sleeping tablets. (It is interesting to note that one treatment for insomnia prescribes mild stimulants early in the day in order to postpone and intensify the return swing of the bio-pendulum.) The real secret in controlling sleep, however, is learning how to stop worrying about not sleeping, that is, how to stop believing that you cannot sleep: once you have tricked yourself into this you will find that it is the insomnia and not yourself that you have fooled. Carefully study the relaxation exercises given in this book. They are very simple and can be performed in any order or combination; they will all help you to get to sleep.
Dream Quotas and Weird States
(A letter and answer.)
‘Dear Dr. Levi,
I'll come straight to the point. My friend and I came across some magazines explaining AT and we immediately started to practise. I reacted quite normally. After a few days, however, my friend began to experience strange sensations. On the first occasion, after relaxing deeply, some muscles in his ears involuntarily tensed and he heard a low noise. Then, suddenly, he felt as if he were whisked away and that he, the bed, the ceiling and finally the whole room were spinning round and round. He then experienced a sensation of plunging into an abyss before everything went blank. Since then he’s intentionally reproduced the same state: on going to bed he relaxes and consciously tenses the muscles in his ears. After a time, everything starts spinning round and he plunges into nothingness. He wakes up as usual at 7.
Since he’s started to experience this condition he’s stopped dreaming. On one occasion, he purposely kept his eyes open and the same thing happened: thinking be was simply lying down although, in fact, he was in a deep sleep, his mother unintentionally woke him up. From then on he began experimenting during the day with amazing success. He maintains that it is the best possible way of resting and he uses it both day and night.
What exactly is this? The noise in the ears suggests it may be some disorder of the inner ear. But, if so, why does be feel so rested after it? This latter point indicates that it may be some kind of trance (self-hypnosis, perhaps). I'd like to add that I've never managed to attain it.
My friend and I are interested to know what causes it; if it’s no trouble, we'd be very grateful if you could explain.
‘Dear Mr. S.,
Conditions such as that experienced by your friend, or ‘autogenous discharges’ as they’re called, are well-known in Auto-Training. Dr. Shultz observed them in his patients, although mention of them can be traced back to much earlier times: yogis, Buddhist monks, Christian hermits and other individuals have, for various reasons, induced states of trance by self-hypnosis and have experienced states similar to those you describe. (Christians variously interpreted them as communications from the Almighty or the devil.)
When you’re deeply relaxed, feeling warmth and heaviness and are close to falling asleep, strange, unexpected states sometimes arise of their own accord; a sensation that you’re spinning in space, for instance, or that you’re shaking inside, that your body, or parts of it, have grown or diminished in size, that they’re disappearing or dissolving… At other times you may experience brief hallucinations such as bells ringing or bright flashes of light. Or it’s possible to suddenly hear a phrase or a snatch of a tune, or a short film sequence unexpectedly comes to mind; occasionally you may simply experience an unusual, indescribable, but generally pleasant sensation.
These ‘discharges’ can occur once or twice and then disappear for good or, as in the case of your friend, they can recur regularly. As a rule, they noticeably improve your mental and physical state, just as though the brain has got rid of some burden. I’ve observed this in my patients. Some of them are disturbed by it, although there is absolutely no need to worry. It’s evidently a perfectly normal reaction when the brain’s on the borderline between waking and sleeping, and similar sensations can occur when falling asleep in an ordinary way. Tensing the muscles in the ears is peculiar to your friend, but the weird sensations certainly don’t suggest any kind of disorder.
The exact nature of these ‘autogenous discharges’ is not fully clear yet. There is, however, some reason to think that their function is similar to that of dreams. The fact that your friend stopped dreaming seems to support this. It’s already been proved that the brain has to produce a certain number of dream discharges per 24-hour period. It’s clear that your friend is able to meet his dream quota regularly with the help of Auto-Training. Don’t be upset that this hasn’t happened to you. It may do with time, and if it doesn’t, then you evidently don’t need it.’
Strange states are quite common in advanced stages of Auto-Training, but they are not essential; some people are worried that they experience them, whilst others are upset because they do not. As I said before, however, everyone should regard them simply as they do dreaming and should not doubt themselves for a moment. Even unpleasant dreams have a positive function since they acknowledge some unwelcome psychological tension. Nightmares generally inform us that all is not well and, as a result, we tend not to feel properly rested next morning. But the nightmares themselves are not to blame: they are simply a signal, like shortness of breath if you are carrying something too heavy for you, or rumbling in your stomach if you have some slight upset. Unpleasant experiences during ‘autogenous discharges’ are very rare, no more common, for example, than nightmares when dozing off in a train or in a hammock in the sun. If they should persist, however, and you have no opportunity of consulting a psychotherapist versed in Auto-Training, then there is no need either to panic or to give up Auto-Training. Simply alter your practice routine for a while, sacrificing depth of experience for a more comprehensive, superficial approach. Concentrate primarily on elementary exercises for freeing the muscles and the breathing and the relaxation scales, train your powers of concentration whilst alert, relax when in motion, and so on. It is very likely that, having gone back to basics for a short time, you will then be able to return to advanced stages without any trouble at all.
Auto-Suggestion for coming out of deep relaxation.
Here are three possibilities:
1. "Extended": get up slowly and lazily, trying the whole time to preserve
the light sleepiness and pleasant sense of relaxation you were
2. "Neutral": get up feeling rested and calm.
3. "Toning-up and super-toning"(see Chapter 9).
You will probably have little difficulty in deciding what suits you best. It depends on what you are particularly aiming for at that time and your temperament (if edgy and tense you need the "extended" variant, if you tend to tire easily and lack energy, then "toning-up" is best for you). It is perhaps worth repeating that it is best to decide on the ESSENCE OF THE STATE YOU DESIRE either verbally or visually well in advance, that is, before you relax. Suppose, for example, you want to have 15 minutes of self-hypnosis and that your aim is to relax as much as possible and then to be immediately very fresh, alert, and active. Order this from the start, even before taking up your position for Auto-Training, either with words, for example, ‘immobile – action!’ or as an image: imagine that you are a cat sleeping in the sun; in ten minute's time you will hear a mouse, tense up immediately, and spring. Or imagine that you are a huge jellyfish with a baby hawk inside you. At first it is tiny, but it gradually grows and grows and finally bursts out. Think up anything you like. The important thing is that this advance order is held in your imagination for a few moments: that is enough for it to impress itself on your subconscious mind. Then you can start relaxing in the usual way with the customary formulas. As for coming out of relaxation, again make the Auto-Suggestion you want, either verbally or visually. (‘Stand up active, light, and calm’, ‘I am a falcon, lightning, a spring’, and so on.) At this, the advance order will link up with the immediate demand and the subconscious mind will meet the request.
You should bear in mind that Auto-Suggestions can be realised immediately, thus changing your state with amazing speed and force, or the results can be delayed and very gradual; sometimes they are not noticeable at all. Have faith in yourself whatever happens. If your desired state is acquired piecemeal over a long period it will be all the more durable.
Here is a list of the techniques for relaxation that we have already covered:
This scale is to some extent arbitrary and in no way exhaustive. The order can be changed: for example, No. 6 can be included in the first or even the preparatory phase. The important thing is the overall pattern. The skill of reaching any phase of relaxation and toning up is an important tool for self-regulation.
This is a term I coined fairly recently although the phenomenon itself is as old as human consciousness. However, it is often easier to do and understand something once it as been given a name.
What we are in fact talking about is the way we can correct ourselves in countless situations in our social and working life without interrupting what we are doing. Many of us who have never even heard of Auto-Training have our own either intuitive or conscious mannerisms for influencing our performance in some way: rubbing our forehead to help concentration, perhaps; drumming our fingers or breathing out sharply to calm down; straightening ourselves up... But we have already been into all this in sufficient detail.
Here I would just like to give a few tips on how to put some of the techniques acquired in Auto-Training into practice.
Imagine that you can sense you are beginning to tense up, you are fussing too much or starting to take something too seriously, you are feeling irritated or are simply very tired. Without interrupting what you are doing (working, talking, thinking, etc.), concentrate part of your attention on yourself and order your whole body or localised tension (in the face, for example) to relax, your breathing to be light and free, your blood-vessels to keep you calm: tell yourself to get back to normal. There is no point in limiting Auto-Training techniques to your routine practice time, put them to good use every day, whenever you need them.
Anyone just starting Auto-Training may have some doubts: ‘Auto-Training Correction seems a little complicated and inconvenient to put it mildly. Is it really possible to concentrate part of our attention on our inner state, give all those instructions to our muscles, breathing and blood-vessels and carry on with what we’re doing? Won't it divert us too much so we begin to lose control? A boxer certainly wouldn’t last long if he decided it was time to start concentrating on his inner state!’
But it is not quite like that: it is only necessary to concentrate on ourselves fully when we are practising Auto-Training and then not for all the exercises; it is not necessary and, in fact, is impossible to do so when we are busy with something else. The distribution of our attention is dictated by the nature of our occupation: the needs of a boxer in the ring are obviously different from those of a mathematician sitting at his or her desk solving a problem. (See The Four Circles, Chapter 6). Auto-Training exercises will help you acquire flexibility and speed for distributing your attention between the inner and outer world and a sensitive balance between extraversion and introversion. The greater your concentration during your practice of Auto-Training the less attention you will require for self-control in everyday life.
Once we have the basic techniques of Auto-Training at our fingertips, we will not need to concentrate on ourselves for long periods at a time or to give special orders to different parts of our body: it will all happen instantaneously as one action. New recruits in the army, for instance, are given intensive training with a series of orders for each operation. When fully trained, however, they require a single command to carry out the full complex of actions. Most of us learnt to read and write by building up from single letter sounds and then syllables; after a time, complete units of words and phrases began to have a meaning for us and we no longer needed to divide them up into their individual components. A similar process happens in our subconscious: the different elements of the command we give ourselves are learnt individually and become a complex of interdependent actions during Auto-Training exercises.
In order to make this happen more easily and quickly it is useful to decide on a correction sign.
A Correction Sign
This is our own sign for setting all the Auto-Training techniques we know into operation.
It can be:
• a slight click of our fingers, or
• a slight shrug of our shoulders, or
• a slight shake of our head, or
• a scarcely noticeable movement of our foot, or
• swallowing, or
• placing our tongue on the roof of the mouth, or
• a sharper than usual exhalation.
In short, it can be anything you like, obviously the simpler the better. You may have already noticed that people occasionally make small movements and gestures that do not seem to have any particular significance in themselves, do not hinder communication either and often seem quite natural. They appear as some of the mannerisms that go to make up our individual, sometimes but not always attractive, range of non-verbal self-expression. They are often involuntary and we are not usually aware of them ourselves. It is quite likely that you have some yourself. They are the signs of our internal correction that generally serves to release excess tension but sometimes tones us and prepares us for action. Napoleon, a genius at positive Auto-Suggestion, maintained that, ‘the shaking of my left leg is highly significant’.
I am not suggesting you should necessarily try the same: after all, we are not all Napoleons and some left legs may not be quite so effective. Our real strength may, unbeknown to us, reside in our right eyebrow whilst we, alas, mistakenly twitch in vain, but with dogged determination, the little finger of our left hand.
We should, above all, be careful not to hinder ourselves from helping ourselves. If you already have your own correction sign and feel it quite satisfactory, then there is no point in working out a new one, simply consciously tune it into Auto-Training so it can work to even greater effect. Begin and end all Auto-Training exercises with this sign. Use it in everyday situations the moment you feel the need. It will work through the subconscious and will quickly and easily produce the desired state. If you do not have a signal or feel your present one is inadequate then it is sensible to choose another, anything you please. (My correction sign, for example, is a slight stretching of the fingers of my left hand which was particularly tense at one time).
I would like to stress that it is irrelevant whether your sign is waggling your left ear or twitching your right big toe: it is simply a question of what you agree with yourself. Starting and finishing each Auto-Training exercise with the sign will develop a sound conditioned reflex: your subconscious itself will know what to do and the correction sign will just give it the message that it is time to put the prepared techniques into action. It is worth remembering that we are the teachers of our own subconscious and a good teacher will both test and trust his or her pupil. We just give the sign, the Auto-Training Correction does its job and we are in control of the situation.
If it has not worked for you yet it just means your pupil still has a few techniques to master, he or she may not have sorted something out properly, may have misunderstood something, or may just be having an off day. Keep your spirits up - keep on trying. If you are going to do anything at all then you will probably make some mistakes at some time and are likely to feel disheartened at times. Just keep working at it!
Once Again It Is Important to Remember:
Always try to have as clear an idea as possible of the overall positive state you are aiming at BEFORE YOU START AUTO-TRAINING. We cannot, of course, foresee all the situations we might find ourselves in but a lot of things tend to be repeated in one form or another and we just need to keep our eyes open to see the basic pattern of things. In order to be the person we would like to be we first have to know the kind of person this is; and preferably WHY we want to be like that.
Always try to spot the onset of an undesirable change in state as early as possible so you have time to correct it before it takes too strong a hold. I would like to emphasise that this does not mean we should be anxiously watching ourselves the whole time. It simply means that we should be consciously responsible for ourselves: this sense of responsibility will quickly become an automatic reaction in our subconscious minds. At first we will have to make an effort, then it will become a habit, and finally a skill.
This is a slightly more substantial technique than Auto-Training Correction. Basically, it consists of our being deeply relaxed in difficult situations. It can include any or all of the accompanying states (warmth, a cold forehead or heaviness) but must be retained throughout the period of difficulty. This is perfectly possible: it is well-known that we can do a great deal when only half-awake (walk, talk and even write and compose, for example). Exhausted soldiers have been known to carry on marching in their sleep. People in a state of hypnosis also illustrate the point that in a partial sleep it is possible to perform complex operations accurately.
Deep relaxation is, in fact, simply self-regulated partial sleep; when combined with activity, this is Auto-Training Defence. Naturally it is necessary to start relaxing well in advance so that you are at your most relaxed in time for the difficult situation. This is not easy, of course, but, when achieved, the results are impressive.
I can imagine you may well have your doubts: ‘Fair enough, I'll grant that we can walk and talk when we’re half asleep, but how can we act efficiently and productively in deep relaxation? I’m scarcely going to be at my sharpest, am I? Is lethargic heaviness really going to do anyone much good?’
My answer to this is that deep relaxation does not necessarily imply heaviness or lethargy, which, in fact, are often fairly tense states; it is simply the optimum way of removing the excess tension we always have (often in fairly large amounts) whatever we are doing. The slight dulling of our reactions and slowness which accompany deep relaxation can easily be compensated for by the economy and precision of movement. Some, indeed the more refined, mental processes speed up when we are relaxed. I have good reason to believe that Shakespeare preferred writing in a horizontal position and I know some outstanding thinkers who always have their best ideas in the bath, that is, in a semi-drowsy state analogous to deep relaxation.
Auto-Training Defence is particularly useful for anyone suffering from phobias or psychosomatic disorders. It can be of great benefit to us all in situations of particular importance. It is possible to learn how to think and even how to run quickly whilst remaining relaxed: have a go and find out for yourself!
Approximate Timetable for a 15-Week Course of AT
A Day with Auto-Training
Like many writers I always address myself to an Abstract Reader as well as to My Reader, whom I count on to understand and trust me. However, although fiction and poetry can be directed towards either the public at large or a small circle of the intellectual elite without considering the reaction of the individual reader, my genre never allows this.
I feel, however, that whoever you are we are far from strangers by now since the topics we are dealing with are fundamental for every human being. I have never come across anyone who can do without psychological self-help of some kind and I have consequently tried to encompass some wider topics as well as those directly connected with Auto-Suggestion and Auto-Training techniques.
I will be pleased if you find Auto-Training useful, if a basic understanding of Auto-Suggestion and an improved knowledge of yourself can help you to manage difficulties independently and to go on to develop further. I will even be pleased if the book simply helps you to rest properly and to be more self-assured. It is not that difficult to start and end the day thinking about and talking to yourself with trust and confidence; nor is it difficult to find just 10-15 minutes during the day too. If you agree, then all that is left to do is to begin; hidden inner resources will come into play and will continue to do so 24 hours a day. The advantages may be even more impressive and long-term: you may change radically for the better and start to experience a quite different quality of living. After charging up for only a few hours a car battery can run for months at a stretch, though not indefinitely, of course, and it soon lets us know if we neglect to top it up.