We embraced mindfulness, tried yoga, downloaded Headspace but still regularly feel overwhelmed by the amount we need to do. Enter sophrology. developed by a Spanish Neuro-psychiatrist, sophrology has been in use in continental Europe for more than 50 years with great success in health, sports, arts, education and the corporate world. In fact the French rugby team during the last world cup.
What is Sophrology?
The word ‘Sophrology’ comes from the Greek roots: SOS (Harmony), PHREN (consciousness), and LOGOS (study and science). It, therefore, means “the study of consciousness in harmony”. Sophrology is a body-mind practice which uses relaxation, simple movements, breathing, and positive mental images to find a state of balance and ‘quiet’ in daily life.
How does it work?
Neuroscience is showing how breathing patterns and physical tensions impact emotions and neural pathways activated in the brain; how experiencing regenerating feelings such as appreciation and care can change chemistry in the body. We can’t often control the external environment, but we can control our experience of it, and therefore our responses, with far-reaching performance and health consequences.
Sophrology is typically practised sitting in a chair or standing. A Sophrologist guides you through a set of exercises in a one-to-one session or as part of a group. These exercises can then be practised on your own and incorporated into the rhythm of your daily life.
Why try Sophrology?
The exercises are simple and easily accessible. Incorporating more of a focus on the body through simple movements makes sessions more active and dynamic.
It can be easy in today’s world to get into a pattern of long days, non-stop activity, fads and quick fixes. Sophrology enables you to take ‘time out’ to recharge. Those who practice it regularly point to the following practical benefits:
- Feeling more positive, capable and self-confident
- Having more energy
- Better quality of sleep
- Being better able to deal with stress, so feeling less anxious and able to be more creative
- Better able to deal with challenging upcoming situations (like exams and big presentations)
- Ability to create a sense of inner calm anywhere anytime
Sophrology for leadership effectiveness
According to David Rooke, co-author of The Seven Transformations of Leadership, an article on HBR’s top 10 ‘must reads’ on leadership: “most developmental psychologists now agree that what differentiates leaders is not so much their philosophy of leadership, their personality or their style of management. Rather it’s their internal worldview…, how they construct reality and respond to emerging situations”. Sophrology can positively impact this reality constructing process and the flexibility of response to situations.
Stress and sleep and their impact on performance
Recent research has highlighted the importance of addressing stress and sleep for improved performance at work:
In a white paper published by the Centre for Creative Leadership, issues relating to stress and burnout are listed as the top challenges identified by leaders. The paper highlights that ‘the major factor that determines your stress levels is not what exists ‘out there’ in the environment, but what is happening ‘in here’ in your thinking.’
At a recent conference in London hosted by the Neuroleadership Institute, Jessica Payne, the Nancy O’Neill professor of Psychology at Notre Dame University, Indiana, presented research evidence that indicated that a lack of sleep can quickly have as damaging an effect on people’s ability to concentrate and perform as significant levels of alcohol can. Payne highlighted that, contrary to popular convention where we tend to ignore sleep as a factor worthy of managing, sleep is critical on a number of levels for obtaining high levels of performance.
For further information about how Sophrology could help your leadership team to perform at their best, please get in contact.
Aziz Sophrology Specialist – Liz
Guardian article – Learning to live- why sophrology is the new mindfulness