What Is The Difference Between Sophrology and Mindfulness?

Difference between sophrology and mindfulness

I often get asked whether sophrology is the same as mindfulness.

Although the two practices share many characteristics there are also differences which I’m going to address is this article.

I’ll start with a disclaimer. As a sophrologist and Education Director at The Sophrology Academy I’ve got more knowledge and experience of sophrology.

Having said that, I’ve done the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programme at the time I was working at the University of Leeds.

When I mention mindfulness in this blog, I thus specifically refer to the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme and not the 2,000 years old Buddhist mindfulness practice.

 

Origins and Influences

 

MBSR was developed by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970s in the US. The main influence is the traditional Buddhist principles of mindfulness and meditation.

Sophrology was developed by Professor Alfonso Caycedo in the early 1960s in Spain. The first influences were Western relaxation techniques such as Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Schultz’ Autogenic Training and hypnosis. Then he travelled to the East and brought concepts and practices from Yoga, Buddhist meditation and Japanese Zen. Underpinning the whole sophrology method which aims at revealing and developing consciousness, is phenomenology.

In both cases, the founders brought together the concepts and influences into secular scientific methods.

 

Sophrology and Mindfulness In Practice

 

As you can see, in their development those two methods hare similarities.

In addition, both sophrology and mindfulness have similar principles of NON-JUDGMENT as well as bringing a BEGINNER’S MIND to the practice. There are also similar techniques such as body scan, breathing awareness, mindful movements.

What are the differences between the two:

  • Sophrology is a more embodied practice, in the sense that we focus primarily on felt sensations rather than contemplating our thoughts.
  • The contemplative skill is built more progressively. That’s why sophrology is a uniquely structured method. We first reconnect with our body before learning to be the observer.
  • Sophrology has a principle of POSITIVE ACTION. We focus more on uncovering and building our positive resources to deal with our everyday struggles.
  • Sophrology starts in the here and now but moves onto positive FUTURE visualisations and revisiting the PAST in a constructive way.
  • Finally, with sophrology we can work on our VALUES and learn to live in alignment with who we truly are. So there is more of a personal development aspect to it.

 

Verdict

 

To conclude, I feel mindfulness is somehow integrated in sophrology. The way we bring it into the practice is slightly different.

On a practical point of view, compared to the MBSR programme:

– Sophrology sessions are shorter

– Exercises are more accessible and flexible

– Sophrology is easier to incorporate in our busy daily lives.

These are comments I had from clients – they found sophrology easier to do and stick to than mindfulness.

I’m not saying one is better than the other. Everyone is different and should use the practice they like best.

My suggestion – TRY, EXPERIENCE and FIND WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU.

And if you’d like to dig further on the power of the mind-body connection and learn how to tap into its power I’ve got an essential guide available for free download.

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