Where did Sophrology come from?
The word ‘Sophrology’ comes from the Greek roots: SOS (harmony), PHREN (consciousness), and LOGOS (study or science). It therefore means “the study of consciousness in harmony”. It was created in Spain in the 1960’s by a neuro-psychiatrist named Professor Alfonso Caycedo while practicing medicine at the University of Madrid.
Caycedo incorporated Western relaxation techniques as developed by Jacobson (progressive relaxation) and Schultz (autogenic training). He combined these with Eastern practices of yoga, meditation and Japanese Zen after extensive travel and study of the impact of these practices on physical and mental health.
The philosophical basis of Sophrology is phenomenological, placing an emphasis on lived experience as a way of knowing, and focusing on experiencing things as they are, with no expectation or judgement. Caycedo has worked under psychiatrist and phenomenologist Ludwig Binswanger (who had studied with Husserl and Heidegger).
Sophrology is at the crossroads between Western relaxation and Eastern meditation.
There are three key principles in the practice of Sophrology:
1. Body Awareness
The best way to quieten the mind is to bring our attention into our body. Sophrology exercises invite us to a calm and peaceful visit of our own body. The aim is to know ourselves better from the inside, to tune into our body's experience of living. We often discover hidden tensions that can be released, unblocking energy and releasing tensions in the mind.
2. Objective reality - non-judgement
This principle encourages us to look at things with a beginner's mind, putting aside preconceived ideas, past experience and be open to a fresh experience of things as if for the first time, simply accepting what is.
3. Positive action
Sophrology does not focus on a problem or delve into what is wrong or why. Without ignoring that, we focus instead on what is positive and strengthen this in a way that enables us to move forward. Neuroscience has proven that what we pay attention to grows, and therefore we focus our attention on what is positive so that this may be reinforced.