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Connecting Mind and Body with Sophrology

 “When I decided to take the treatment, I made another decision, which was, now it’s gonna be my health first. It’s gonna be my work second. This had never occurred to me before. That was a massive shift.” – Audrey Zannese

Audrey Zannese is the Founder of Step into Sophrology in which she helps anyone, especially women living with chronic pain to take back control of their body, health, and well-being. She was first introduced to Sophrology as a way to help her with her diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis. She’s also the Director of Education at The Sophrology Academy in Ashford. 

Audrey had always been passionate about preserving endangered species, and this drove her to pursue a career in science from a young age. After completing a degree in Biology, she delved into the field of ecology, conducting experiments and researching the effects of climate change on butterfly behavior. Audrey Zannese has a background in academia and has published four scientific journals and research studies during her academic career. Currently, she’s researching the effects of Sophrology on individuals who suffer from chronic pain.

In this episode, Audrey talks about:

  • Sophrology as a mind-body practice of relaxation and meditative techniques.
  • Her big identity shift from her profession to her health
  • How sophrology helped her regain balance and improve her well-being to live a happier life.

Guest Spotlight: Audrey Zannese

Guest Audrey Zannese in a green shirt and black blazer

Audrey is the founder of Step Into Sophrology and she’s Director of Education at the Sophrology Academy. She was recommended to sophrology by a French neurologist when she started her treatment for relapsing-remitting MS. Skeptical at first, she gave it a try and quickly experienced huge improvements in her life.

A few years later Audrey decided to make sophrology the best part of her life and to train as a sophrology practitioner. She was naturally drawn to help other women living with chronic illness, pain and fatigue to take back control of their body and health.

Audrey’s motto is “self-care is not selfish” and she firmly believes that if she could do it, anyone can. Sophrology is a uniquely structured mind-body practice combining Western relaxation methods with Eastern meditative techniques. It consists of gentle body movements, breathing exercises and positive visualisations. Exercises are simple and accessible as well as easy to incorporate in busy lives.

Audrey’s signature programme is the 12-week Ultimate Wellbeing Programme. She also offers one-to-one bespoke sophrology sessions. 

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NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.

Audrey Zannese

[00:00:00] Andrea: This week I have a fun episode for you. My guest and I have a lot in common from our diagnosis to our motivations for getting into our respective field of business. The first time we spoke, we could have talked for hours. She's so easy to talk to. And so smart and has a lot of knowledge in her field, which I had never heard of before meeting her.
But now that I know about it, I'm in love with it. It's called Sophrology, and if you've never heard of it, Audrey gives a great introduction here, and if you have heard of it, she's giving us tools and even a little guided visualization at the end of the podcast that I promise is going to give you energy for the rest of your day.
Please enjoy this week's episode and visit Andrea Hanson for more on Audrey Zannese resources that we talk about in the show and transcripts from today's episode, and you can find that link in the episode description. Welcome to the Live Your Life, not Your Diagnosis podcast. I'm Andrea Hanson, author, motivational speaker and master certified.
When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I was told I would never reach my goals, but I did, and I'm on a mission to prove that life with a chronic illness can still be expansive and quite remarkable. Everyone has their own unique path. I'm talking to people living with a chronic illness that come from different backgrounds, have different points of view, and are achieving amazing life.
Of all kinds to inspire you to achieve what you thought was impossible. These stories are raw, uncensored and judgment free listener discretion is advised. Hello, I'm here with Audrey Zannese. Audrey is the founder of Step into Sophrology, and she's director of education at the Sophrology Academy. She was recommended to Sophrology by a French neurologist when she started treatment for relapsing remitting.
Skeptical at first. She gave it a try and quickly experienced huge improvements in her life. A few years later, Audrey decided to make Sophrology the best part of her life and to train as a sophrology practitioner. She was naturally drawn to help other women living with chronic illness, pain and fatigue to take that control of their body and their health.
Audrey's motto is Self-care is not selfish, and she firmly believes that if she could do it, anyone can. Sophrology is a uniquely structured mind body practice combining Western relaxation methods with Eastern meditative techniques. It consists of gentle body movements, breathing exercises, and positive visualizations.
Exercises are simple and accessible as well as easy to incorporate into busy. Audrey's signature program is a 12 week Ultimate Wellbeing Program, and she also offers one-on-one bespoke sophrology sessions. Audrey, welcome and thank you for listening to me Bumble through , that introduction.
[00:02:59] Audrey: Thank you so much, Andrea, for having me on your show.
It's a great privilege to be
[00:03:04] Andrea: here. It's always nice to talk with you. We've spoken a few times and I've spoken with you to your group, and now I'm really excited to have you on here so we can talk again, because Sophrology is something that I had never heard of. until I started talking to you. And it has a combination of things that we've heard of before, but the actual idea of it as a whole and the practice as a whole is something that is new, I think especially.
To people in the States and people outside of Europe. So just off the bat, because I know everybody's wondering what is Sophrology?
[00:03:39] Audrey: You're right. It's very little known in the English speaking world, and it's most popular in France and in Spain because the founder was a neuropsychiatrist who. In Spain and he also spoke French and he kind of developed a method in Spanish, in French, and he hit a little bit of stumble on the English language.
Speaking barrier. Sophrology is nothing new, I would say in itself. It's a way the method is structured that makes it unique. So as you said, it's a mix of Western relaxation techniques. You'll have influences of things like. Progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic truth training. You also find inspirations from yoga, Buddhist meditation, Japanese Zen, and basically the idea is that we start first with reconnecting with our body and our body sensations, and we do this in a very gentle and positive way In.
Then we progress on two, harnessing the powers of our minds, and that's where perhaps you being a mindset coach will resonate with that part. We don't do it in a such directive way as you might be working with people with mindsets, but we start to contemplate the fact that our mind is limitless as.
Potential. And we start projecting ourselves positively into the future. And then we bring body in mind together. And when we find that in our balance that in harmonies that alignment, we are connected and we open the space to really uncover who we are and step into the world according to our values and what we stand for.
And that's really what you get with sophrology. You get work on the body on the. And you work with the here and now and the past and the future and the values. So it's something that combines many different influences, but really is very comprehensive method. And what is amazing is. How easy it's to use an everyday life, because you don't sit on a cushion for an hour and basically you build the capacities to first concentrate, focus being your body.
Then you can have the observer effect that you'll find in mindfulness and the contemplation aspect, and then you progress onto meditating, and as I said, stepping out, being who you.
[00:06:08] Andrea: That's fascinating. I love that it harnesses so many different types of that meditative state. I mean, I think it's something that a lot of people are super interested in because we know the benefits of meditation.
We know the benefits of yoga. We know the benefits of a lot of these things, but not everybody has access to that. Not everybody can do meditation and yoga. and mindfulness and , that's because it would take up half your day. Not to say that it's not great if you can do it, but not everybody can. It's really good to know that it's something that you can incorporate into your day and it's not something you have to go and you do for five hours in the morning to, to get all those benefits.
[00:06:53] Audrey: Absolutely not. I mean, my usual practice is generally a 10 to 15 minutes routine in the morning, and then I just choose AOC exercises through the day with short pauses, short breaks, but you wouldn't believe how much. Short, regular practices can have big impacts on your wellbeing, your health, how you feel during the day.
So depending on how I feel, you know, I will maybe shake my shoulders or tense my body and release, or maybe it will be more focused on my breathing and perhaps extend my eyebrows to calm myself down. Maybe I want to visualize something. I mean, it's really. It doesn't
[00:07:31] Andrea: take too long. So I had talked to you before we started recording and I'm going to come to it at the end.
We're going to talk more about that visualization at the end of the podcast. But first I want to talk about what you were doing before your diagnosis. So you have relapsing, remitting multiple sclerosis like I do, and you're doing this really cool thing with Sophrology. But before your diagnosis, you were also doing something
Really, really cool. So talk to us about what you were doing before you were diagnos.
[00:07:59] Audrey: Yes, I was doing something entirely different before I was diagnosed, so my journey was in science and basically what I wanted to do from an early age was to save an injured species, and I went into a biology degree. I went into the field of ecology, and I, I did cool things.
Capturing and marking, putting colors on deals. I worked as well in labs with mite doing experiments, this mite, M I t e, not mice. I did work on understanding the effects of climate change, of butterflies, so I come from a very, very different background and I was always somebody who was very clear on the goal and what I wanted to achieve.
I was kind of very ambitious. And I did everything like to my PhD and the postdoc and everything was clear and where I would go. But yeah, clearly then the diagnosis came and it came when I was doing my master's level. So it didn't stop me from the track. I was suddenly sense something I had to to consider.
[00:09:15] Andrea: when you got that, Diagnosis. What was that like because you're in, it was a lot like me. It's one of the reasons why I think we've become friends. It's because it's like our tracks were very similar because I was also in graduate school when it happened, and it was like, whoa. For me, I immediately was like, I finished my semester and I was like, I can't do this anymore.
I'm not in a position that I can keep going with this study. You said it didn't stop you from your. So talk a little bit about what that was like. How did you know to get diagnosed and what did you do afterwards?
[00:09:50] Audrey: Oh yeah. We're going to talk about the power of denial, . Yes,
[00:09:54] Andrea: yes, we are. I didn't want to go in and say that, but yes.
[00:10:00] Audrey: that's what I did. That's how I managed initially. So yes, I have a very similar story to yours. I also got my first massive flare up or relapse was optic neuritis. Mm-hmm. . And basically I went to bed one morning, I woke up the next day and my left eye was completely blind. Completely no sight. At one, the.
That was about couple of weeks after I had finished the exams for the masters. And of course my family rushed me to hospital, got lots of tests done, got into, uh, IV of steroids for two or three days in the hospital. And contrary to, we may not have such really big relapse or. I dunno, maybe different types of symptoms that could be generated by something else.
The doctors, they, they said is likely to be MS from the start. So you're 24 years old, you just completed your exams, you got your future in front of you. You know what you want to do. You are going to save all the species of this world. You don't want to hear about ms. You just. No, no, no. Say they got it wrong.
Let's face it, I worked like crazy for the last two months. I haven't slept. That's a glitch. That's what it's, and I think it also was my parents, they couldn't take it. It was too much for all of us. So we kind of took refusing into this. Of course, denial works only long as he can. I mean, it doesn't, it doesn't stop what is, so I had other relapses also less, but from the other eyes.
So there was a point where I said, okay, I cannot ignore this. I need to make sure, so I need to get the diagnosis, and I got the diagnosis. But after that, I went into denial once more.
I dunno what was going on in my head. I think I was a lot nu, I don't think I was in touch with my emotions. Basically, I had this kinda armor, protective armor, and I didn't feel anything and it was a lot in my head and it's like, okay, now I know what I have. Okay, it's confirmed, it's ms, but that's fine. I can deal with that.
I'm going to manage until a year later. I have the next one. And, uh, we're just, yeah, this is not going away. And that's when it hit me. It was really like, okay, I'm not in denial, and now I understand everything that it means, what it's going to mean for my life. All the questions, all the uncertainties, all the fear kicked in at that moment.
[00:12:43] Andrea: So it's just like a rush. Yes. How did you deal with that after? The interesting thing about denial, and I always love this subject because I think we can all understand, we've all gone into denial about something. It doesn't have to be our diagnosis. It can be something else in our lives, but it's that idea of this is too much.
and I, maybe it hasn't completely, like I would argue losing part of your eyesight is pretty bad, but it doesn't necessarily completely knock you over. And so you're like, you know what? I can push on , I can do this, and I don't want to deal with the huge idea of what's coming. And I can totally understand that.
I think if I weren't such a, I don't know. I mean, when I was diagnosed, I was confronted with someone who was, she didn't mean to be, but it was very much like, you're never going to do this for the rest of your life. I had no choice. Like my just instinct kicked in and I immediately pushed against it. And the second you push against something, it's like, oh, okay.
It's there. . Like you can't deny what's happening when you're pushing against it. But I think if I wasn't confronted with. . I would totally have gone that way too, because especially with something like MS. And other diagnoses are like this too. It's like you have it and then it goes away, and then something happens and then it goes away with the relapsing remitting.
And I think that's one of the reasons why it can take a while to get diagnosed. So I can get that. You can, for the first couple years it's like, Nope, don't want to deal with it. But then it came kind of rushing to. When you had that second flare up, what was that like? What was going through your head when you finally realized like, okay, no, something's gotta change?
[00:14:24] Audrey: I think it was the third one, and I realized there had been others in between. But actually I wasn't aware. I wasn't aware. So I had my legs as well. At some point I experienced pins and needles in my legs for more than three days. But at that time, I wasn't followed by a neurologist or anything. It was in that period of denial between relapses that were many relapses or flareups or neuritis.
That realization came long after that. Actually, I was having other episodes. in between, but at the time, yes, first I had the diagnosis, so I dunno. At some point I just, like I said, I can't keep losing my eyes, . I just need to know what what's going on. Yeah. And then realizing that actually it wasn't going away.
I just decided, okay, I can't keep like this. I need to take the treatment that they've been speaking about.
[00:15:14] Andrea: Did you have a moment where you were processing, do you think, during denial? Maybe you were processing a little bit without realizing it, or did you have a big moment of like, I've gotta process this because this is a huge change?
[00:15:26] Audrey: It was actually interesting because. For me, most of the relapses I've been linked with very stressful periods. Yeah. I can so much make the link. And so the last one happened At the time I was really working myself like crazy in the lab staying up till two o'clock in the morning because I had a particular experiment on Zu go going back at 6:00 AM I think at that point.
I started to realize how merger was pushing myself, perhaps. Yeah. In the background. It had started to process, as you say, and I started to realize I time I was pushing myself so much, and so I knew that when I decided to take the treatment, I made another decision, which was, now it's going to be my health first.
It's going to be my work second. This had never occurred to me before. That was a massive shift.
[00:16:20] Andrea: How did you make that shift? Because a lot, you can't just jump into that, right? Like there's gotta be a lot of reframing, looking at things different. I mean, it's a big identity shift when you're looking at your research and your career first and your health second.
[00:16:36] Audrey: Mm-hmm. I not sure I can tell. I don't know what happened. It was one relapse too many. and I just decided, no, please stop. And by accepting to take the treatment, I was putting my health first. So yes, I cannot tell you exactly how it came about, but I know I made that decision at the time I decided I saw the treatment.
It has to be my health
[00:17:00] Andrea: first. So the treatment that you're talking about right now is the medical treatment for ms?
[00:17:07] Audrey: Yes, it is. It was consisted of a weekly injection. There were supposedly there could be some very nasty side effects. There wasn't something easy to do either. They didn't really know at the time or so the long terms, and it wasn't cure.
That was just to prevent by a certain amount of percentage, the number of relapses you have. So there wasn't, there wasn't that great prospect, but it did definitely feel better than not doing anything. It was recommended, so I decided to go with that.
[00:17:39] Andrea: Yeah, we actually had taken a similar drug and at the time it was huge
It was great .
[00:17:48] Audrey: Yeah. I mean, I remember at the time I had options between two. Yeah. I just had two options. Now there is of course, many, many different drugs available.
[00:17:57] Andrea: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's kind of, you take the best choice that you think is there and then you move on, and then in another couple of years there's a better choice that maybe you can take, and it's just the way it goes.
At some point you are on medication. You are no longer in denial. You were living with MS and you were putting your health first, but at some point your neurologist stepped in and said, Hey, I want to introduce you to this.
[00:18:23] Audrey: So it happened at the same time as the treatment, so I decided to go back for a few weeks in France.
At the time I thought of the treatment, I was already in England doing my PhD, and uh, I couldn't face. Starting that over there because I didn't have any family support. I had a few friends. I just needed to be somewhere where I was feeling safe. So there was this French neurologist I met who, um, was actually a very, very good person and I'm grateful for him forever, I think.
Because contrary to the experience you had, which I found was extremely harsh and extremely untrue as well, because you can never say to somebody how the MS is going to progress or evolve, what's going to happen? So it wasn't at all telling me you won't be able to do this and that and that. On the contrary, I mean it's not, it wasn't pleasant to hear because me, I didn't like to feel out of control and not knowing.
You are saying, I cannot tell you how this is going to happen, whether you'll have another. When will it be whether he will go into progressive ms, whether he will escape the treatment or not. I can just give you statistics, but we don't know. Everybody's unique. So that was already the suspect there and you could see that I was nervous and anxious and kind of, uh, little fidgety being, he said, have you ever considered doing sociology?
And because I'm French and sociology is so well spread, sorry, in. I had a vague idea of what ology was. I also had a mum of a friend who was a psychologist, and no offense to her, but at the time I was seeing that, I mean, I wasn't into complimentary therapy or meditation or relaxation or anything like that, and I had this feeling of this thing like a bit woohoo, you know?
Mm-hmm. when he said that. Thing. I looked at him and, uh, actually my heart sunk . I just, I was just, he's so bemused by his proposition. I was just like, ah, is that going to help? And so I merge it over. But I decided to contact one of my friend, she recommended a sophrologist that was nearby where I lived, and I decided to go and see that person.
And I said, okay, I'm going to give it a try. And I came, I remember. I came with my little diagram to her. I was just like, okay. I had those exams and I had a relapse, and then I had my first conference and I had a relapse. And then I worked like crazy in the lab and I had a relapse. And you see, you see lady, I need to manage my stress level.
If I manage my stress level, there's no more relapse. Everything is fine. And she just went very quiet or I did all the space. She told me, do you want to feel better? And you know what? Again, I, I was sat on the chair and I just grinded myself down and then, and I was just like, huh, that's a very interesting question you are asking me.
I'm going to think about it because I knew behind that question I could perceive what was behind. I mean, what had MS brought? I mean, the negative, what were the positives? You know, my family was all around me. I was being cocooned and these type of things. and actually did I want to carry on being in that victim mode.
She never used that word. She never said anything like this, but somehow just that question with just that silence, I was ready to hear it and I was ready to consider that. Yes, I do want to be better and I want to be in charge and want to, as you say, I don't want to live my diagnosis. I don't have to be my condition.
I am a human being and I'm going to take charge of myself and I'm going to go forward. So I came back to her office and I said, yes, I do want to get better. And we got started and it was amazing because, well, of course it calm, lean down. So it's very good to manage the stress levels, which will have all ripple effects and impacts on the wellbeing in general.
But there is also a principle of positive action and morphology, which means it's not fake positivity at all, but. Principles that during a session to start with will focus more on what we perceive as positive. Doesn't mean we, as I say, deny when we perceive something negative. Tensions, where we, we try to put it into bracket and then we refocus on what do we perceive as positive.
And actually through this process, that is relatively easy to do. I don't know how, but somehow it permeates in your day to day. and then what I noticed, because I was independent very quickly, she, I was there only for a few weeks. I had a bit of a sophrology bootcamp. I did see her quite, quite a few more times.
And I would see my clients, let's say it was, it was adapted for, for the time I had over there. But I quickly became independent, self-guided myself from day one and I came back to England. I'd set my routine up. I noticed that it wasn't the stress levels. I was feeling confident and I was feeling more in control, and I was happy in a way I think I never had been when I was Elsie.
I remember the day when I left the flat and I was just like, oh, isn't life great? And I was so, so confident. I would deal with anything that would come my way, and I didn't live in fear of the next relapse anymore. I was just entering.
[00:24:00] Andrea: That's amazing. I want that . What was it like when you first sat down?
Cuz I know when I started to do things early on with the ms, like, okay, I know it's good to do things that calm you down. I know it's good to do things like meditation or yoga or whatever. But when I very, like the very, very beginning started, it's like I couldn't, like I was crawling outta my skin , like I could not bring it down even for like a 15 minute yoga session.
I was like, I can't, I just gotta shake it off. Like I can't. I don't know what it was. Did you have that feeling or were you just in it immediately? So,
[00:24:35] Audrey: you know, we have those dynamic movements in sophrology and that helps you get into your body. So you are telling me about shaking it off. We have an exercise that's called the Puppet, where you just kind of bounce up and down and shake your whole body.
And actually I am like you. And she knew, I mean, she found out I was like this because. She adapted the sessions that we would always do some dynamic movements before we would go into, let's say a body scan or soft, some type of visualizations. It doesn't necessarily have to be this way, like that's the thing.
We are all different. , and I'm not saying sophrology is for everybody. Everybody should find what works for them, but it is so accessible because we can, depending if a person is more visual or more kinesthetic or respond more to breathing, we can shift the exercises around so that we get that entry into that relaxed state that as you say, you was crawling outta your skin.
So me, I would often start my, my sessions with like a pumping exercise where you pump your shoulders up and down bit of the, then I would do my body scan. I would do tense release. Tense release where you imagine you, you displace all your tensions. And then initially I did it as well. It wasn't just calming down, although we did certainly some visualizations to calm down.
But I also had this specific goal that I wanted help with the treatment because I was afraid of the side effects. And so I did. Some, some work around that straight away and it really helped.
[00:26:05] Andrea: That's amazing. I love how she clearly had your number from the very beginning. I love it when you go see people.
I remember when I first started seeing my therapist, who, you know, I always talk about therapy. Fantastic. She totally nailed it. Like she had my number from the very beginning and. Like when people ask you questions like that, or it's almost like they act in a way that you, it's totally unexpected. Like I don't know about you, but it's like you go in with this expectation of like, this is how it's going to go, and then they totally disarm you and they get in there.
It's like, I mean, that to me is one of the best ways to get into a practice, because just from the beginning, your defenses are completely dis. And just with that one, often just conversation. It just opens you up and they're like, okay, let's try it. , let's do it.
[00:26:53] Audrey: I must say when I had taken the decision that yes, I was going to feel better.
I tried to let my skepticism out. I did say to her, I'll give you a chance. I really will have an open mind. I will give it a try. And you know, sophrology is about practice. It's if you want to experience benefits, you need to put the work in. I was ready to do that, and that's why I was committed. With my same determination as I had all my life.
I said, I'm going to give this a real try. So from day one, as I said, I could guide myself because of course you can guide yourself into simple movements. And then a body scan. Of course, your mind wanders a lot at first, but that's okay. Move that part of the body and oh, you feel, you feel it. I mean, she did a lot.
Little movements with me because she could see that it was what I was responding to. But again, you have some people that you just see it and boom, they're there. They can just straight away connect and we are all different. I love
[00:27:52] Andrea: that it allows for that, that it's not just one practice in one way that she allows.
For you. What I'm hearing is this idea of kind of closing that loop of completing the cycle, like the stress cycle or if there's some kind. Anxiety or some whatever happens, you know, whatever's going on in our heads, it's like we have to complete that loop before effectively moving onto something, especially something that's more calm.
And so it is, you gotta like wiggle it and, and shake it out and do whatever it is to discharge that energy first. And I love that it allows for the differences. Like if you're more visual, if you're more kinetic, if you're, you know, more auditory. I don't know if there's auditory. So I love that there's a lot of different points of entry based.
What comes naturally to each person. I think that's pretty amazing, and I think that's one of the things that some people can feel as a barrier if they are just starting a meditation practice or they're just starting a yoga practice. It's like this is one way to do it. And I, I love meditating. I don't necessarily do it in a.
Traditional way, so to speak. But I always talk about like, look, there's a lot of different ways to meditate. You don't just have to sit and watch your crazy head go. So I love that that is available in Sophrology. I think that's really important.
[00:29:12] Audrey: Yes, absolutely. Yes. Can be bespoke. And that's what I always encourage the people I work with to do, because when I work with somebody one-to-one, I can figure out that's the beauty of one-to-one.
What is going to help a person to shift into that state and to get some maximum results. But when you work in a group, I always encourage people, go and experience, try to do this first. Try this one instead. See what works for you, and that the idea is to make people autonom with the tools you teach them, because that in itself will be empowering when you realize that you can do something for yourself that helps your wellbeing.
Just having that at your hands wherever you are, because yes, we start in the quiet of our rooms. That's the easiest way to start, let's face it. But then you do it at work. You do it in the public transport, you do it in the hospital. You can take it with you everywhere.
[00:30:08] Andrea: That's one of my favorite things is when I talk to people about feeling your emotions, I help people learn how to process emotions because like you, like me, not everybody learns and we get into adulthood and it's like, yeah, I've never really felt an emotion except for like laughing and it's a whole process.
And then I say something like, yeah, when you're sitting at work at like the boardroom table with 10 other people, You can feel an emotion. And they're like, what? , because they think emot, you know, feeling an emotion means you're going to bust out crying for 20 minutes or something like that. And I'm like, no, no.
When you get used to processing emotions, you do it very quickly and you could do it publicly and nobody knows and that is such a mind blow for some people.
[00:30:49] Audrey: Yeah. Realizing that it's only a chemical message. It's not meant to last. You just wash it, wash it, flow over and boom it comes down. Yeah.
[00:30:59] Andrea: You got into this practice of sophrology and you saw benefits, but you fell out of it for a little bit.
Is that right? Yes. I'm
[00:31:08] Audrey: a human being and I am not perfect. I mean, to this day I am not perfect. There are days when I feel busy and I want practice. There's few occasions like this now, but it would still happen, and so I practiced for two, three years. Almost religiously, almost every day. And then I don't know why I started to take it for granted or perhaps not thinking that it was sophrology that was helping me, that I was okay.
I didn't need that. Interestingly, what I noticed is first I could start feeling myself kind of spear writing down in terms of the suits. The suits were again, becoming like more negative thinking. Catastrophic scenario playing out. And I was aware I was, because I had gained a lot of wellness, I was aware of that and yet I didn't catch myself.
But it went down also to the body level. And here is my experience. I'm not saying it's a scientifically proven or anything like that. Okay? And Sophrology, certainly not pure or magic world, but this is my experience I'm going to share with you. For two, three years, I barely experienced side effects of the treatment.
As I stopped practicing, I started to have a couple of bad injections, let's say, that weren't very nice, and I didn't catch myself there either. And eat got worse and worse until one night I didn't sleep at all. I was shaking like mad. And, and, uh, I was almost considering going to hospital because wondering is that normal to shake like this for so long?
And the next day I, it was like, had gone on the bus, you know, I was completely crushed. I was eight here, everywhere. And at sad point. I dunno what happened, the shift, but do you want to feel better that that pop probably popped up? I was like, what am I doing? I'm going to get back on my practice and we'll see.
And I got back into my practice and each time I would do my practice, the side effects we seeded. Now I do have a bit of an explanation for it because a lot of you know, the mind and the body connection and when you have bad experiences. Already you're going to be in the, in the anticipation of this being bad.
And so you kind of self reinforce that loop and that just makes the side effects much worse than what they are. So it's not that I never had side effects before, but it's just on that experience of the side effects with the sophrology or without, I could play the volume of it. I could play it down or play it up.
That's why I had the impression that I had no side effects. Because I was dealing through Aha sometimes where I was shaking a little bit, but it would, it would be just a tiny bit. I would breathe and I would fall back asleep and the next day I would be fine.
[00:34:16] Andrea: Yeah. I, having been on that same medication, I do know that those side effects can be pretty gnarly For sure.
and so I'm not at all surprised you experiencing that or going through like this is what the full side effect is like. I love that Sophrology helps not only to kind of breathe through it and like you said, turn the volume down, but also not anticipate the next side effect being so bad. And I think that is such a big thing because not only is there.
What we're experiencing in the moment, but a lot of times we add to it by anticipating and thinking that whatever's going to happen in the future is going to be bad.
[00:35:01] Audrey: Absolutely. I mean, you're so right. We kind of limit ourselves through the type of thinking and it, it's all thinking process. Mm-hmm. , but it has a really impact on the body as well, doesn't it?
I mean, that connection is, is incredible. And so yes, that's what I always encourage the people I work. Through the session, you learn not to have expectations. Our sophrology session doesn't have to be pleasant. Most of the time it'll be, but it just has to be. It's just an experience, a lived experience, and being able to reconnect with, with ourselves.
When you do that with no expectation and you keep repeating that for each session, again, that permeates into your everyday life without you noticing. You start to be less, have less expectation of other things, and that makes a massive, a massive difference in the.
[00:35:45] Andrea: It does. So when did you feel ready to go into opening a business and start teaching other people how to do sophrology?
[00:35:57] Audrey: So I had a, another quite bad relapse flare up during the post-doc, and I was knocked down for three weeks with fatigue and at that point I started to consider my. And academia didn't feel right. There were many reasons. There were many reasons why I didn't continue. I'm not going to list them all there.
It's, it's a combination of factors, but health was one of them. I just couldn't really see how it was going to fit with my house, and so I spent some time just reflecting. Thinking, what do I do? What do I want to do? And realize that Sophrology was such an important tool for me in my day-to-day life. It would be good, wouldn't it?
To be in a job where you are led to do this all the time. So I think that's how the idea started to pop up. I hope I'm not going to disappoint your audience, but it's almost was a bit of a selfish start. It was really Well, I would be so good for myself. I didn't jump in there. Oh, I'm going to help other, no, it was a process of, it started with me and I can't tell you how, I can't remember how, but sometimes you know when things align and you know you are ready.
I. The website of the Sophrology Academy, which is the only school in the UK that teaches Sophrology. I was just like, well, this is it. This is the answer to what I want to do. And so I trained with Sophrology Academy, graduated with my practitioner diploma, but straight away I did ask to be teaching assistant in the academy because during the postdoc, I.
Done some teaching in the PhD as well. I was demonstrating I do love teaching. That's also part of me, so I straight away wanted to be teaching assistants. It took me a little while to set up the business as I am today. Initially I didn't share my, my story was in public. I didn't share my story yet, and I was presenting myself as stress management.
See problems helping with confidence, preparation for event. What would happen after each time I would deliver a workshop or a taster session or anything, there would be somebody staying at the end telling me, I've got this. Can it help? So I've got, this would be chronic fatigue, chronic pain, any type of illness.
And also, one thing I did as soon as I, uh, kind of finished the diploma was to volunteer in a macmillan center. I was nearby, and I must say that when I was, uh, it felt. I just loved spending my time giving sessions there, helping people. I worked with people who were in treatment, people who were carers or those who had finished, completed their treatment were in remission and were about to step out again in their lives.
And it was really something I loved. And so it took perhaps a year of that to decide, okay, this is. This is me and he speaks to me. I'm going to make my story public. And you know, this is face of fear and do it anyway. I can't remember who wrote that book, but it was that. I mean, I was really fearful, but my gosh, was it liberating when I finally took my story out and that's how I started specializing, helping people with chronic illnesses and chronic fatigue and chronic.
[00:39:44] Andrea: I think when it comes to opening your own business, especially one that this is, it's so personal. It's almost either you choose your profession or your profession chooses you. And I think when it starts, On such a personal level of I am doing this to help myself. Like that's what I did with mindset. I was like, I don't know what I'm really doing, but I know what I'm doing is helping.
This has gotta be a thing. And I went and did training with, with Martha Beck, who was all about the mindset. . I did it for me , just like you did it for you. Because I think that when it starts on such a personal level and we are doing something to help ourselves and we see firsthand how much it helps, and then we start realizing we can help other people, I think to a certain extent that that's our profession choosing us.
But I think that's just, I don't know. There's something really delicious about that because it, it connects us so deeply. To what we're doing and what we believe. And it allows us to, like you were saying before, know our values and put them out there and teach from our values. And teach from our personal beliefs.
[00:40:47] Audrey: Yeah, absolutely. And that's why it is such a privilege when you work with people, isn't it? I mean, it nourishes you from the inside. Yeah. I'm always so grateful for the people I work with. That's amazing. .
[00:41:00] Andrea: So I teased a little bit at the beginning about a piece of sophrology, which is actually one of my favorite things.
Not that I do sophrology, I just know certain aspects of it. Although I am fascinated in the whole practice of sophrology. But part of it is a visualization , and I was hoping you. Just walk us through an example of just a quick visualization that we can all go through, okay?
[00:41:30] Audrey: Yes, absolutely. So if you are in a position to close your eyes, feel free to close your eyes.
If that is not the case, you can keep your eyes open. Maybe you want to fix something in front of you, whatever is more comfortable for you, and just take a moment to acknowledge where you are. Are you placed. Perhaps sens things. Your feet on the floor, the balance of your body, and I'd like to invite you to let color come to your mind a good color, something that feels right for you, that feels positive, and that color may come in different shapes or forms.
It might be that you just see the color in front of you. It might be you see an object of that color. Perhaps there is even a sound, a smell associated with it. However it comes, as long as it feels good, we keep that color. If the color doesn't feel right, we can push it away and invite the color we like.
And once you have this color, imagine perhaps if it's like an object, perhaps you could imagine a blanket and wrapping yourself into it. Or imagine this color just surrounding you, like if you were in a bubble made of that. The color that is positive, start to connect to what does this color bring to you?
Why is it a good color for you? What's a positive behind it? Does it feel calming, soothing, invigorating, healing, balancing, and as you carry on with that color around you in whatever way. Perhaps imagine that each time you breathe in, you are inviting this color in, and each time you breathe out, you let it expand and flow into your body Again.
Let it go wherever it needs to go. Let it find its place With your own breathing, you don't have to change the way you breathe. You just breathe in the color and let it flow inside. And see what it brings. Imagining it's positive energy coming inside, feeling yourself up with that color in whatever way works for you as much as you want you in charge.
And just notice how it feels. Just a few moments. No expectation, new judgment, just welcoming how it feels with that color around you and. Maybe it's different that when you started, maybe it isn't. It's okay. There's no right or wrong. And once you've connected to the sensations that have emerged from this experience, feel free to let go of the color and to come back into the room and open your eyes.
[00:44:06] Andrea: Fantastic. I almost want to like let it sit for a second. , that was, that was amazing. Thank you.
[00:44:15] Audrey: Did you get the color coming to.
[00:44:17] Andrea: I did yellow.
[00:44:19] Audrey: Yellow, okay. And what was it like?
[00:44:22] Andrea: Yellow to me is, it's a combination. It's, I think it's something that stems when I was in grade school and elementary school, it's a fantastic school.
It was in Pennsylvania and we had yellow week. where we celebrated yellow. It was, I think because it was in a place where it's kinda like, like the, the winters will drag and, and so spring is like a big thing. And being in elementary school, we would cut out suns and yellow daffodils and put them on the walls and just make it yellow.
And you would wear yellow for a day. I mean, it was, I don't know where it came from. It was just something so fun. And so I always. Put yellow in this light where it's like, oh, it was so happy. It was so much fun. It was fun. Childhood memory, and it's all about yellow. And now it's like yellow is, it's always kind of my life force color.
I just love it. I love, I could like, Drink it in. So that's where I went. Wow,
[00:45:21] Audrey: fantastic. Wow, that's so rich and experience. So yeah, you've connected that color as meaning to you. And that's a resource, that's one of your resource. You can tap into it any point. So, fantastic. Mm-hmm. ,
[00:45:35] Andrea: what color do you think of when you do that?
[00:45:37] Audrey: Me, uh oh. That varies. At the moment, I am in the phase of green or orange.
[00:45:44] Andrea: Interesting. Orange I know is change. That's the color of change.
[00:45:48] Audrey: I don't put any interpretation or meaning, so I just connect with having that color surrounding me in me. And I just notice whether I find it's soothing or perhaps makes me heavier or lighter or this type, but I don't, I don't try to enter.
and I just sit with the feeling of having that color inside for, for a few moments. Yeah, I didn't do a very long pause. Sometimes in sophrology we have longer pauses to just welcome the experience.
[00:46:15] Andrea: It's totally fine. I mean, on something like this, you don't want to, let's have five minutes of silence.
people can pause if they want to go back. , you're right. It's like we're attracted to certain colors at different points in our lives and that's why when the orange, I was like, oh, I know that's changed. Cuz whenever I go. Big changes. I know it's happening because I'm starting to be drawn more to things that are orange.
It's really interesting. I don't know what that is. There's something in that in the life force of that color of orange. It's kinda like getting your haircut when you're ready for change. You totally change up your hair or you're attracted to a certain color. Well, that was fantastic. Thank you so much for introducing us to Sophrology.
It sounds amazing. I think you've sold everybody. You've sold me . I want to start practicing this. This sounds fantastic. I am going to have all of your information in the show notes, and you can link to the show notes through a link in the description for this podcast. But for people who are just listening, how can people get in touch with you?
[00:47:21] Audrey: my website is step into sophrology dot co uk, sophrology spelled S O P H R O L O G y. And I'm also on Facebook, Instagram, which prefer LinkedIn. You can connect with me there and yes, just give me a shout.
[00:47:39] Andrea: Perfect. Thank you so much Audrey. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story and sharing Sophrology with us.
[00:47:46] Audrey: Thank you very much, Andrea. It was my pleasure.
[00:47:49] Andrea: If you like the show, don't be shy. Please give us a five star rating and review. Follow us on Apple Podcast, Amazon music, or wherever you're listening right now to see complete show notes and resources mentioned in this episode. Visit Andrea Hanson
Thank you for joining me and until next time, take care.

About Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast

Hear inspiring discussions with people living with chronic illness. These people went after their passions and big goals -even when everyone told them they couldn’t. Listen to stories of resilience and gratitude in the face of uncertainty.

I’m your host, Andrea W. Hanson, Author, Motivational Speaker, and Autoimmune Rebel living with multiple sclerosis. You’ll not only fall in love with these guests, but you’ll soak up positive mindset tips and ideas to find your own unique path to success.

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