What is Sophrology?
Sophrology (from ancien Greek σῶς / sôs (“harmony”), φρήν / phrến (“mind”) and –λογία / –logía (“study, science”) is the study of consciousness in harmony; a healthcare philosophy made of very practical physical and mental exercises aiming at a prepared mind in a focused body.
This method was developed by Professor Alfonso Caycedo, a Colombian Neuro-Psychiatrist, in 1960’s along his personal and professional journey. It is both a philosophy and a way of life as well as a therapy and a personal development technique.” He later said: “Sophrology is learning to live”.
Sophrology is now a very common method used in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium and is becoming increasingly well known in the UK.
Sophrology concentrates not on the problem itself but on the positive elements in the person’s life and in their past, present or future that will enable them to move forward, to feel stronger. The assumption is that positive thoughts start a positive chain reaction.
“Through an everyday practice, sophrology aims at harmony in human beings.” Caycedo
In practice, it does not mean seeing life through pink-tinted glasses but putting an end to an unrealistic or negative vision of life to see things as they are (as much as possible) and reinforce whatever positive we have in us.
Alfonso Caycedo looked into phenomenology after working in 1963-64 with the Swiss psychiatrist Binswanger (1881-1966) who had studied with Husserl and Heidegger. Phenomenology had a big impact on Sophrology. Some of the techniques in Sophrology suggest to look at things “as if for the first time”, with a neutral approach, listening to sensations with no judgements or expectations. Experiencing is key. Suggestion is left to a minimum to let each person experience the exercise in their own ways.
- a non-judgemental attitude: look at things with as “neutral” a look as possible, not using our previous knowledge or experience;
- a beginner’s mind: look at the world with a child’s mind, take it as it is;
- acceptance: accept reality around us and others as they are, without preconceived ideas. Never assume.
Sophrology is about better understanding the body, about knowing oneself, knowing one’s limits and accepting oneself. Feeling fully alive here and now and living in harmony between body and mind.