Self-balancing sanctuarying : a grounded theory of relaxation and autogenic training
The purpose of this study was to discover how relaxation in general works, and how components of Autogenic Training (AT) (Luthe and Schultz, 2001), a relaxation therapy, may be working together and separately in an anxiolytic process. A corollary purpose was to develop recommendations for clinical practice. Data consisted of personally and historically collected interviews (n=46) and diaries (n=34). Participants with less than moderate anxiety volunteered from the community at large; and, participants with moderate to severe anxiety were drawn from the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine’s AT Department and British Autogenic Society therapist’s client lists. A classical Glaserian grounded theory analysis methodology was used to determine participants’ main concern (self-balancing) and the way they continually resolved this concern (sanctuarying). The theory of relaxation as a self-balancing sanctuarying process emerged from analysis of what 21 people from the community at large say they do to relax in everyday life. The activities they choose for sanctuarying are self-emergent, and their continuing use is contingent upon managing hindrances and integrating feedback to the process so that the benefits of doing the activity are maximized. Three switching strategies, distracting and blocking, managing and controlling, and letting go and allowing, are central. Benefits which are not consciously or analytically generated are: restoring, refreshing and re-energizing me; maintaining and building me; and growing and developing me. Maintaining and building me are characterized by integrating and strengthening the core self and connecting to the community; growing and developing me is characterized by expanding self-discovery. The theory of self-balancing sanctuarying was used on an emergent fit basis to analyse 25 interviews and 34 diaries gathered from people with symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety whilst learning to practice Autogenic Training. This analysis broadened and deepened the grounded theory. This thesis contributes to knowledge in many areas. It is the first classical grounded theory of relaxation and of Autogenic Training, theoretically situating and/or challenging extant descriptive and conceptual models of both relaxation and AT. It supports the clinically functional equivalence of certain forms of relaxation and supports Teasdale and Barnard’s (1995) Interacting Cognitive Subsystems Model. It supports and challenges certain aspects of core affect theory, of the cognitive appraisal theory of emotions, and of Fredrickson’s (2001, 2003) broaden and build theory of positive emotions. It adds a grounded perspective to the spiritual well-being debate, bringing new knowledge to it. It adds new data to the field of the phenomenology of hypnagogic images. It discusses the implication of Self-balancing Sanctuarying for training of AT therapists and for their clinical practice with anxious clients.