… So also in June 1996 during a basic course in Autogenic Training. I had registered for this course after my positive experiences with the relaxation warmth and the pictorial idea of the soft, light, enveloping blanket. I hoped to find more suggestions for relaxing and warming exercises within the Autogenic Training.
“This doesn‘t help with autoimmune diseases,” the coach told me then, before the beginning of the course. But I didn‘t stop and sat in my seat on time …
The instructor’s first commentary on my introduction during the general announcement at the beginning of the first lesson was: “During an autoimmune disease, the body turns against itself.”
While the other participants looked at me with concern, I thought to myself:
“But I am my body!
If I can turn against myself, then I can also stop it and get well!
How much of power I must possess over myself if I was capable of causing rheumatoid arthritis without even being aware of it!
So I must be able to cause health as well, and purposely finish the RA-mechanism!
I don‘t have to leave anything to chance anymore!“
And I continued thinking:
“How does the inflammatory pain feel?
Like a snatching knife cutting through flesh and joints – similar to a cramp in the calf or in the foot! Like a persistent spasm increasing!
So if I cause it myself, then I can stop it too.
What ends a spasm? – Relaxation!”
This wonderful finding accompanied me from then on. It astonished me and made me happy because it gave me new ways of thinking, gave me hope.
At the beginning of the course, the participants should enter into the conscious relaxation with the formula “everything is heavy and warm.”
I then took the feedback from the other participants on how (cumbersome) all the people were feeling their bodies. It seemed to as if I were in a slowly and leisurely moving herd of elephants.
It became clear to me that, in contrast to the other participants, I could not only feel and relax larger body regions (hand, foot, arm, leg, etc.) as instructed. Through the horrible pain that raged in my body, I was involuntarily practiced at feeling my body, even in much smaller areas, such as my finger- and toe joints.
Since then, I trained silently on my own, while the other participants around me continued making their progress.
I had suffered for so long, that I wanted it all at once and craved for my entire body to become pain-free as soon as possible – not to say: immediately.
But my attempts to direct the conscious concentration of the relaxation in all regions of pain at the same time failed at due to my subjective pain sensation, which initially increased through relaxation.
This was just too big. The subjective pain sensation was so strong that I felt overwhelmed and stopped my attempts at first.
Back home, as usual, I found enough work to do. Enough and more than enough because due to the disease I was too slow and it piled up.
So the course became my save haven to which neither household nor work had access. It was a free space where I only needed to sit in my chair.
My all-encompassing physical training attempt I did no longer trust.
So I sat there in a big circle, with all the other participants busy and relaxed.
No stress, no racing.
And my right thumb reported pain.
My hand lay calm and half open on my thigh.
I looked at it, and then I tried my first exercise only on the thumb and palm of my left hand.
As soon as I combined my conscious relaxation with my mental images and started along with my painful perception it worked!
So I defeated the pain! It passed away.
I then repeated this exercise with each pain signal I got and expanded it from the thumb and palm region with increasing success.
In this way, I managed to not only cope with more intense pain but end first the complete decay of the respective inflammation and later the entire chronic reaction chain.
I experienced that my body would follow the relaxation pictures when they were correctly positioned, clear and persistent: imagined, felt and repeated, lived with every exhale, refined, clearly felt.
I increasingly developed a sense of how much I am a whole in which everything will affect everything.
My inner conviction changed from: “I will (someday, somehow already) heal” into my concrete experience: “I will heal myself, right now.”
Within a few weeks, I was able to react to the pain signals in my hands, arms, and feet immediately after they started.
I experienced that the pain in the area I was practicing on waned and eventually disappeared completely.
After I spent time improving the individual exercises took only a few minutes and became more and more a habit.
The intervals between the sudden pain attacks became longer.
The following difficulties initially formed exceptions:
-several parts of my body hurt at the same time;
-pain and swelling showed me that while I slept my body was still “working” in a disease-like way;
-in situations that demanded more attention from me, I was too distracted to practice;
-my back and shoulders sometimes still hurt after or during sleep. I assumed that I had lain in an uncomfortable position during the night and searched for a remedy with various mattresses and pillows. Months later, it became clear to me that this could have been rheumatism as well, when, to my belated horror, I found out that such symptoms may also point to an incipient rheumatic spinal inflammation.
-at first, I just couldn‘t come up with ideas for knee and elbow exercises.
Early 1997 to the end of 1998:
While I was thinking and trying, my back, shoulders, and knees already profited from the sharp decline in inflammatory tendencies in general. Scarcely any other pain spots appeared at the same time, my elbows I trained with my forearm upper arm exercise. Pain and movement restrictions decreased and faded. My hands, arms, and feet became slim and flexible again.
With the now expanded exercises, I learned how to divide my attention so that, for example, I could imperceptibly practice in the midst of a lively conversation, without interrupting it.
I learned that my body responded to many specific, single and recurring stimuli with mild to painful tension in different regions.
So I continued to either prevent these stimuli or regulate my physical and mental response so that I was less burdened in general or at least found back to balance after strains.
I experienced how the effects of unresolved negative stress, which acts on me as a reaction habit for a long time or occurs seemingly out of nowhere, triggered and maintained the RA next to the purely physical overload.
The constant practice now fulfilled the purpose of detraining the recently made a habit of ill-making because unnoticed and therefore unresolved tension response to stimuli and overloads and confirmed: With attention and conscious movement, I can change my physical and mental condition to the turning point!
In the following months, my HeilÜben exercises grew with my findings and became more and more a strong, healthy habit, which ultimately let me also sleep without Inflammation.