“The main difference is that it can program things into the future,” says Lyons. For example, Antiglio first started practicing sophrology when she was experiencing anxiety about her college placement exams and her doctor pointed her to it. (Yep, it’s a recognized healing practice by many health care professionals in France.) In this sense, it’s a very pragmatic exercise, almost like hypnosis. “You prepare with sophrology so that in the moment you’re anxious about, you can perform to the best of your ability.”
“I know people who have done yoga, who have done meditation, who have done all sorts of mindfulness practices and never got to that Zen level,” adds Lyons. “Sophrology is hypnotic in the sense that it helps you get to that deeper point of relaxation.”
She adds that many people also use the practice to get to the place where they can subconsciously tackle different fears and phobias. Athletes will often call on it before a big game, and it’s used for general burnout too.
“On Amazon in France, if you Google sophrology, around 800 titles come up, to give you a sense of how popular it is there,” adds Antiglio. “It’s commonly used in hospitals, sleep centers, and therapists’ offices. It’s much more than a trend here—it’s been part of the medical landscape for a long time.”