What is AutoSomatic Training™?
As the name suggests, AutoSomatic Training™ (AST) involves a training or learning process. What is it that needs to be learned? The learning is about the self. ‘Auto’ comes from Greek and refers to the ‘self’, or ‘directed from within’. In this sense AST is about self examination. That is the self is both what is studied, and the study or learning is self-directed. So AST is self-directed learning that is done through examination of the body (‘soma’ in Greek). What gets specifically examined in the body are the body sensations or feelings. These feelings may be simple body sensations, uncomfortable or painful feelings, and, more importantly, the emotions. So, AutoSomatic Training™ is about learning the techniques of self-examination via examining the emotions and feelings.
Why learn AutoSomatic Training™?
Examining the emotions is about learning what moves us – what drives us. With AST you can learn the source and structure of inner motivation. With that knowledge comes the opportunity to manage ourselves at the level of our inner drive mechanisms, and thereby live a life of our own choosing, as opposed to being driven about by rogue moods and impulses induced in us by the negative experiences of our past personal history. When we have choice, we have a sense of personal freedom and self-direction. We are in charge of our destiny.
How does learning AutoSomatic Training™ assist us to live a life of our own choice?
AST provides the opportunity to examine any negative thoughts, feelings, or behaviours that we may have. By deliberately focussing on the body sensations associated with any problem that we choose to examine, we can associate off those feelings at will and find any and all personal historical incidents that are acting as the perceptual filters that are driving current behaviour. Those perceptual filters tend to come up one at a time, and, being brought to mind, are then available for experiential resolution and personal mourning as needed, and for conscious re-examination and reconciliation of these past memories with other historical and current experiences. We are able to do reflective integration. Having cleansed the negative perceptual filters in a manner of our own choosing, we are personally empowered to live consciously in the present, no longer imposing past negative experiences on the present, nor projecting them into the future.
What is it like to have cleaned up the negative emotional experiences of the past with the assistance of AutoSomatic Training™?
Try to imagine what it is like to have cleared up and reconciled all the negative emotional experiences of the past. Can you imagine having no inappropriate negative perceptual filters driving behaviours like anger, rage, frustration, impatience, cravings, and avoidance? Can you imagine what would it be like to live in a family or community where everyone had cleared up their past personal history? Or what it is like to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things”? Or what if you could live in the space described by: “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” because you have cleared up your past issues? Or if you could go to bed each night, and never ”let the sun go down on your wrath”? It is a comfortable, loving place of peacefulness, freedom, self-expression, and self possession.
What is the origin of AutoSomatic Training™?
AST came from the personal experience of Dr. Phil Walsh in 1978, when he was going through a deep soul searching at about 40 years of age. He had a spontaneous transformative experience that radically altered his understanding of himself and the world. Having had such an unexpected and profound experience, it occurred to him that perhaps it was no accident, and that the experience could be spontaneously and deliberately reproduced. He discovered that it could, and that it could be repeated systematically for all of his negative past and current experiences. He was able to achieve what appeared to be complete, mental, emotional, and psychological clearing. He discovered with time that he could also coach others to have the same kind of experience.
What benefits did he experience from his transformative experiences with AutoSomatic Training™?
The first thing he noticed was an inner peacefulness, patience, and a sense of kindness and gentleness. He was startled by the amount of fear, rage and anxiety he had been carrying inside all his life. But the more he dealt with his fear, rage and anxiety, the more he became comfortable in his own skin. He found himself having loving thoughts and feelings that he had not identified before. As time went on he felt he was living more and more in current reality. He calls it a sense of Presence of Mind. He also discovered that he was creative in a way he had never been before. He was also becoming more able to enjoy and sustain interpersonal relationships – an issue that had been one of his biggest problems before his transformative experiences.
What was most surprising, though, was that as he progressed, he started having highly significant spiritual experiences that he realized were the kind of experiences, including a sense of Divine Unity, described by Yoga, Buddhist, and other practitioners of the Eastern religious and spiritual traditions. He realized that what he was doing was very similar to the meditative practices of the Eastern traditions - that he had rediscovered spontaneously what has been known for many ages. The literature of Easter traditions then became like an open and familiar book. From an agnostic/atheist perspective, he spontaneously shifted to a position of ‘knowing’ that God exists, and a sense that he had been favoured by Grace, assisted somehow by the practice of AutoSomatic Training™ that he had stumbled onto.
However, with time, he also realized that he was also having experiences that in the Judeo-Christian sacred books were attributed to the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit . He experienced a sense of Union with God, Presence and Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and a sense of Brotherhood with Jesus. He recognized that what he was doing and experiencing were refered to but not explicitly described in detail in the Christian literature (especially the Sermon on the Mount and the Book of James), the Gnostic literature (especially the Secret Gospel of Thomas), as well as sources like the 51st Psalm in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh.
An important part of what came of all this, is the realization that there is an Intersection of Spiritual Practice that connects The People of the Book, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as the Eastern Traditions of spiritual practice.
How does AutoSomatic Training™ square with modern science, especially Psychology and Psychiatry?
The practice of AST, as mentioned above, is very similar in some respects, to the practice of meditation and self-exploration in the religious and spiritual traditions. Many mental health practitioners support and advocate practices such as meditation, including the currently popular and scientifically supported, self-awareness or ‘Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)’, borrowed from Buddhism.
However, AST is also somewhat similar to the most effective scientifically-established therapies used in the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. These practices, used to treat psychological trauma and stress, may be described generically as ‘imaginal exposure’, assisting people to expose themselves to their own imaged memories. These techniques are used in such modalities as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), ‘Prolonged Exposure’ (PE), and ‘Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy’ (IRRT). AutoSomatic Training™ is also similar to Sigmund Freud’s earlier treatment methods. So there is an Intersection, not only with other religious and spiritual practices, but also with scientific research and practice as found in Psychiatry and Psychology today.
Who should or should not use AutoSomatic Training™?
Basically, AutoSomatic Training™ may be practiced by anyone who follows and practices any of the standard spiritual and religious traditions that require ethical discipline and self-examination. Practices such as meditation and contemplation are very similar to AST. Those who practice psychological and philosophical self examination would also likely benefit from the practice of AST.
Those for whom AST may be questionable are those who may be regarded as having mental, emotional, or psychological illness, although many psychological problems seem to disappear with the spiritual practice of Autosomatic Training®. If there is any question about these issues, competent psychological assessment and management are necessary before attempting AST.
Again, what is AutoSomatic Training™?
AST is a process of self-discipline, self-examination, and self-management that leads to a peaceful mental and emotional state, associated with a sense of freedom, presence of mind, healthy loving relationships, and a spiritual state of being – living in the Spirit. The practice of AutoSomatic Training™ is best learned by a committed seeker who is coached by a practitioner who has already successfully experienced, understood and mastered the process.