Select one of these values and determine why it is important for you. Get a piece of paper and write down your reasons as to why it is important. Be as vivid as possible. Psychologists and researchers agree that this can help reduce stress and anxiety. In a study that involved eighty-five undergraduate students, it was found that writing about core values helps reduce stress levels. The participants were told to give five-minute speeches as members of the audience yelled at them to speak faster. Before they gave their speeches, however, the participants selected the value that they thought to be most important as well as the value that they thought to be quite irrelevant. Whenever I'm doing a good job--below a certain threshold of theta waves--my headphones play a soothing New Age tune (it sounds like Enya and makes me even more relaxed). When my neurons are generating delta waves, I hear the soothing sounds of the ocean. And when both rhythms rise above their thresholds, I hear music soothingly paired with waves crashing. But as soon as a thought pops into my mind, they stop. It's a horribly frustrating process. I sit, clear my mind, and try to create that dull, almost throbbing buzz you feel in your brain when you are thinking of nothing at all. And the music plays and the waves crash. And for a few seconds, it's perfect. Then I think, This is going well, and they cut out. What I didn't know was that every time I got deep enough to hear the waves and music, Jensen's student moved up the threshold of when I'd hear the waves and music, so that I had to be even more relaxed to hear them. Then, they wrote about such values. Imagery-Based Exposure This exercise involves you recalling a recent memory that produced an intense feeling of negativity within you.

Now, once you have it in mind, analyze the situation. For example, say you found yourself in a distressing situation at work where you ended up arguing with one of your officemates. They might have said something hurtful that left you reeling and completely out of it. Yes, the exercise might bring back some of those feelings, but try focusing on the purpose at hand instead of those emotions. Remind yourself that the situation has passed and now you're merely studying it to gain a better understanding of how you reacted. Next, label the thoughts and emotions that you went through during the conflict. Identify and write them down. I heard the music, the student raised the bar, the music cut out, and I went deeper, ever in search of that pleasant wave-music combination. By the end, I almost felt that I could turn on my delta and theta waves at will. It's a good trick. Jensen uses this exercise as a training tool for subjects to master the use of brain waves to decrease pain, in much the same way that Kirsch had taught me to trick myself into holding down my leg so that I could remember what a basic form of suggestibility felt like. Jensen's work suggests that theta and alpha waves may be key to pain relief. When going about our daily activities, the brain generally uses the much faster beta and gamma waves (up to 100 pulses per second). This is especially true when we're in pain, which usually goes hand in hand with anxiety and stress. Thus, if hypnosis and meditation can trigger slower brain waves, those waves may replace the faster patterns and thus replace the perception of pain. Just as there is more than one way to examine a roaring stadium, there is more than one way to look at a brain. This conclusion led Jensen to a fascinating study. How does this help? Well, by visualizing this situation, it can actually help you take away its power to trigger the same emotions in you. Exposing yourself again to those negative feelings and urges will take away some of its ability to affect you once more.

Thought Recording For this exercise, you will be testing out the validity of your thoughts. Basically, this involves gathering and then analyzing any evidence for and against a thought you might have. What this enables you to see is a fact-based conclusion on whether said thought is valid or not. For example, you might think that your boss thinks badly of you and that they find you inadequate for the job. You would need to gather all the evidence that makes you believe this is true, such as He wasn't smiling as I was making my presentation and he asked many questions as if to embarrass me. Then think of evidence that is against this belief, such as He did give me a pat on the back after the presentation and He also told me to keep it up. He looked at the brains of 20 patients before and after they experienced some relief from pain through both hypnosis and meditation. He found that people who naturally had high levels of theta waves--in other words, people with naturally relaxed, slower electrical activity--experienced a great deal of pain relief from hypnosis. Meanwhile, people with busy, overactive minds benefited the most from meditation, which slows their buzzing brains down to a crawl. Meditation takes care of a problem that you have. Hypnosis builds on a skill, Jensen says animatedly. It's capitalization or compensation. Are you capitalizing on a strength or are you compensating for a weakness? It looks like meditation is compensating for a weakness, and hypnosis capitalizes on a strength. Studies suggest that having a busy mind can limit a person's ability to manage pain. Imagine pain management as a skill, like running or weight lifting. If he thought ill of me, he wouldn't have encouraged me in that way. The goal here is to create a more balanced picture in your mind, as well as get rid of the unreasonable negative thoughts that you have formed prior. PREVENT RELAPSES

Firstly, we have to know the meaning of lapse. A lapse is a brief return to feeling down or to your old habits. It is a common and temporary situation. As opposed to a lapse, a relapse is a complete deterioration or complete return to your initial state of health after a temporary improvement. For example, you had a phobia of spiders, and now you know that it is best not to scream when seeing one. Somewhat, you calm yourself down, breathe, tell yourself some coping thoughts, and gradually ignore the spider. So, if you see a spider in a room one day and you scream, that is a lapse. According to Jensen, hypnosis is a little like taking an already strong sprinter to the gym and pushing her to a whole new level. Meditation is more like what happens when a couch potato, who has never worked out a day in his life, drastically changes his eating habits and starts running every day. If Jensen is right, his research will back up much of what scientists have suspected for many years: Hypnosis is not a placebo or a trick of the mind that releases the brain's inner medicine cabinet. And it's not akin to distraction, which uses the brain's need to focus as a way to cloak the pain. By this line of reasoning, hypnosis may be an exotic brain state that directly accesses expectation and perception--a little like turning off all the software in your computer and accessing its basic coding. Except a bit more complicated. After I've wrestled with my theta and alpha waves, it's time for me to get hypnotized. For that I go back to David Patterson's office at the University of Washington. With me is my friend and assistant, Liz Neeley, who is there as much out of curiosity as to help me. Clearly she wants to try hypnosis too. If you then go back to screaming and running whenever you see a spider, then we can call that a relapse. Lapses can progress to relapses, but this should not necessarily happen. You can stop a lapse from escalating into a relapse.

When Does a Lapse Become a Relapse? The general belief that what you say to yourself after a failure can make or break you is very much applicable here. What you say to yourself and think after a lapse can lead you back to the right track or throw you into relapse. Seeing a lapse as a failure can keep you sick and lead to a relapse. A better perspective is that you were able to have emotional wellness before; Going back to our spider-phobia example: if, after avoiding the spider all day, you said to yourself, It looks like I'm bringing back old habits; I need to do better tomorrow and get myself together! But Patterson's time is valuable and she's not the one writing a article about suggestibility, so I give her the video camera and tell her to take a backseat and film the whole thing. Patterson begins by asking me about my family and then asks what complaint I'd like to address. I tell him about a pain I have in my arm and ask if he can focus on that. He seems a little disappointed, as chronic muscle pain usually takes a long time to treat with hypnosis. But he agrees to give it a shot as I sit down in an extremely comfortable chair in his office. Hypnosis is all about suggestion, telling a story that captures the imagination and addresses the outcome you want to create. You know Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion? He's probably the best hypnotist who's ever lived. If you stumble or lose your train of thought during the induction, or say something odd even once, the patient may notice and come out of the trance. I like to think I tell a pretty good story and am a smooth talker, but I'm a bumbling child next to David Patterson. If you avoided spiders all day, and at the end of the day said to yourself, All that I did was a waste, now I'm here again. I'm such a jerk! Why am I even trying when there is no cure?