The Power Of Mindful IntentionJun 02, 2021
Written by Caroline Dykes, Operations Manager at Thriving Talent and a qualified Sophrologist
With the global pandemic, we are finding ourselves living in the midst of an incredibly challenging period of time. People around the world are feeling more stressed than ever before, which is where the holistic wellness community can help. There has been a marked demand for alternative wellness practices to manage lifestyle stress and burnout over the past year.
Sophrology is widely followed in Europe, particularly in France, and is growing in popularity in English speaking countries. It was created 60 years ago in Spain by Professor Alfonso Caycedo, a psychiatrist and neurologist searching for a gentle practice to ease the physical and mental stresses of daily life for his patients and to develop harmony of body and mind.
It is often described as a ‘dynamic relaxation’ and combines various influences from Eastern philosophy and practices, with Western science. Therefore it works very well in our modern world, using simple tools that draw on relaxation, breathing, meditation, visualisation and body awareness exercises.
Is Sophrology For Me?
Sophrology is wonderful for people who are busy, who have minds that tend to race and who perhaps find it hard to sit still and meditate. Many of us feel powerless in our fast-changing world and like we have no choice but to react to external circumstances.
So our bodies are often full of adrenaline and our minds are constantly overloaded with information and will flit from one thought to another. This can be exhausting and it may feel impossible to consider sitting down and meditating to try to be ‘in the present.'
It is a very practical approach and with regular practice, even just 10 minutes a day, one can quickly notice the benefits – feeling more calm and relaxed, having greater mental clarity and increased self-awareness. Furthermore, one is more able to ‘act’ rather than ‘react’ to people and situations and tap into the positivity and optimism that we need to thrive in our daily life.
Guided sophrology sessions generally combine a breathing exercise, a simple body movement and tension release exercise, and a visualisation. The use of positive visualisation is one of the components of the sophrology practice that makes it so unique and special.
Start with the breath
I always recommend people start with the breath. At a time when you feel stressed during the day, just stop for a moment and put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach and start to recognise where you breathe from.
People who are stressed usually lock their breath and breathe more from the chest – becoming aware of that and encouraging abdominal breathing is a nice trick to stop the fight or flight response in the body and connect with a state of calm.
Using body awareness is also very powerful to calm the mind and recentre. In Sophrology we use a series of exercises, like head rotations, where you turn your head from side to side, or the shoulder pump, where you move your shoulders up and down – these are simple things you can do in one minute on the spot that will immediately refocus your attention to body sensation and therefore centre your mind and relax you.
If you could change your life with a 2-minute practice, 3 times a day, would you do it? Join our upcoming Mental Fitness Programme and take yourself from Self-Sabotage to Success in 7 weeks! Click here to sign up.
The Power Of Intention
In a recent sophrology session with my work colleagues, we practised a visualisation with ‘intention’. I encouraged my colleagues: Listen to what your heart really wants and start to plant the seeds of intention.
By imagining a positive future based on your intention, taking into account your values, you change the way you see your circumstances, your choices, and your actions. You start to actively lead yourself into your imagined future and you are no longer just reacting to external circumstances, but instead taking control of them.
This kind of practice shows you what is meaningful to you, helping you to truly understand what matters in your life. Knowing this and feeling connected to your purpose empowers you to set boundaries for yourself, not wasting time on the trivial stuff, and instead focussing on what is important to you.
Think of a word like love, trust, calm, confidence, balance, focus, connection as your word of ‘intention’. See what words comes intuitively to you.
Repeating a simple short routine, you start to notice you can be in control of your world rather than the world in control of you.
After the session, I received the following feedback from my boss who had been juggling many tasks all week:
22 April 2021: Debbie Croft, co-CEO Thriving Talent
"Took 30 minutes out of a busy day out of a busy week to do sophrology with Caroline. Think I may have just tripled my productivity for the afternoon. It gave me the chance to listen to my instinct of what I needed.... Focus. The ‘setting an intention’ part at the end gave me my 'how' i.e. how to best focus. 3 questions to ask myself to stay focused and maximise impact:
- How strategic or operational am I being at this moment?
- Could someone else do this or does it need to be me?
- Does it help me meet my Objectives & Key Results?
Where intention goes, energy flows.
When you set an intention, you are helping your brain rewire towards this new state. Each morning, think about what your intention is for that day – which state would you like to be able to go through your day in?
Taking stock of ‘where we are’ is so important. Notice this and acknowledge the stress you are under. Where am I? What do I need? Can I ask anyone for help?
Doing this very quickly gives you an opportunity to overcome tension and connect to whatever you need to move forward, which is essential in our lives right now.
I invite you to take a few minutes now to stop, check-in with your body, take 3 deep breaths and ask yourself, "what do I need right now?".
It’s the only way to be able to pivot and nurture oneself.
And just do one breath with your chosen word of intention in mind - and be mindful of this as you go through your day. Alternatively, do one move with that intention in mind.
If you want to make it more powerful, you need to mix all of these things together. Just put aside 10 minutes to do them – all my practices only last 10 minutes and you don’t need to know a lot in order to start.
Observe without judgement, and just ‘be’. The practice is not about being your best self or trying to change yourself – we learn to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly and celebrate just being you.
Intention….. as you practise your sophrology, listen to what your heart really wants and start to plant the seeds of intention. Cultivate them, breathe them in, visualise them and let the Universe show you the way.
People around the world are feeling more stressed-out than ever, which is where the holistic wellness community is meeting the growing demand for alternative wellness practices to managing lifestyle stress and burnout. Sophrology isn’t new, though: a mindfulness practice from the sixties, this meditation-like practise was developed from yoga to aid relaxation and enhance self-awareness and mental clarity. - Compare Retreats Magazine
If you would like some help to do these exercises, or would simply like to find out more, from either a personal or corporate perspective, please do get in touch with Caroline by email: [email protected]
During the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, several members of the Thriving Talent team enrolled in the 6-week Positive Intelligence (PQ) Mental Fitness programme for coaches. In less than two months our “PQ” score – a numerical gauge of our mental fitness – went from 27 to 80 (on a scale of 0-100).
THIS PROGRAMME LITERALLY TRIPLED our happiness and resilience. Now we are sharing it with you. Join our upcoming PQ Mental Fitness Programme to enjoy these outcomes for yourself! Click here to sign up.
 A visualisation is simply a mental rehearsal. You create images in your mind of having or doing whatever it is that you want. The key to positive visualising is to visualise that you already have what you desire. Rather than hoping you will achieve it, you live and feel it as if it is happening to you now. On one level you know this is just a mental trick, but the subconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. Your subconscious will act upon the images you create within, whether they reflect your current reality or not.
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