This has been a helpful metaphor for me in understanding what Sophrology seeks to do. Imagine that each of us is a glass jar full of ‘stuff’; life experience, genetic history, emotions, thoughts, traumas. Investigating the stuff inside the jar; delving deep into it, getting it out bit by bit and examining it; this is the work of counselling and psychotherapy. We don’t do that: Sophrology seeks instead to strengthen the glass. So at a Sophrology session you will not have to deep-dive into your stuff. Rather we identify what is happening in your life that you want to change, how it is affecting you, and we go from there. It’s about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. The ‘why’ is not important in Sophrology. You might need the in-depth work of counselling, which I absolutely endorse – I have done counselling training myself. But then again perhaps you will not: as I wrote in “How I met Sophrology”, an earlier post, I somehow knew that talking things through was not what I needed last year. Instead Sophrology might be what you are looking for; a safe, non-judgemental space and a set of flexible therapeutic tools to help you to become stronger and more able to handle life, and find your own resources and solutions. This is not to say, though, that Sophrology is not sometimes uncomfortable in the moment – it can be. But it always seeks to accentuate the positive within you, and does not leave you adrift in the negative. The client is also entirely in charge of the direction and pace of the process. If you say to me that getting better sleep is your number one priority right now, then that is where we begin – even if you were also bereaved recently and you are experiencing stress at work and you're getting headaches. Together we clarify what is most important to you, and the journey starts there. Caycedo believed firmly that any positive act on one part of your being reinforces the positivity and health of the whole, and he held tight to the importance of sovereignty and autonomy for the client.
The glass also needs strengthening at times in a very specific way. So let’s say you have an exam, or an audition, or an important presentation at work coming up, and the mere thought of it makes you shake. Sophrology has exercises which boost both your physical and your mental strength, helping you to access the resources you need and giving you precise techniques to practise in the minutes leading up to your performance so that you can be at your best. Put simply, this works. I have had two significant interviews in the past couple of months and for each did a brief set of exercises on the day that enabled me to feel confident and connected – in a real way, not a ‘fake it till you make it’ way, and to perform at my best. In fact I’ve done it quite a few times now for public speaking or the like, and it has never let me down. So Sophrology is very useful for actors, dancers, musicians, speakers, people taking exams and all those who have to step up to the mike and can find themselves battling the nerves.
It’s also used widely in the field of sport, at the highest international levels, but that’s another post.
Ultimately it's about life, though, in its widest sense. These glass jars of ours take a battering. Last week I wrote about the two days I spent with my Grandma as she died. Each morning I got up at 6am, sat quietly in the stillness of the sleeping house and for ten minutes did a series of very specific exercises that would give me the strength I needed to do what I was going to have to do, to see what I was going to have to see. Starting by relaxing my shattered body, I released the tension that was making my shoulders and neck rigid, then activated energy within my cells, and breathed strength and peace into every part of me. I felt this underpinning me and fortifying me through everything that followed.
So for the moment, hold your glass jar tenderly! And if that metaphor makes you think about glass breaking, know that our broken places can be our very strongest places in the end. And our most beautiful. In the words of Leonard Cohen: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I think more and more that not hiding our cracks, even when the jar is mended, is how we walk each other home.
Wishing you peace.