63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
I have been reading a lot lately about the power of the brain, particularly the ability of the brain to rewire, which is called neuroplasticity. The brain is amazingly powerful, and mindfulness (i.e. a kind of relaxed focus) can cause our brains to rewire in a positive way. The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force is an excellent book on the topic for those who want to know a little more. In other words, look around at those people that go through the same problems the rest of the world does, but who remain happy, calm, and detached. Compare this to the reaction many people have to life's setbacks: anger, stress, and dejection. Hanson argues that stress is not external (caused by stimuli), but really internal (caused by our brain's response to the stimuli).
The first tracks explain Hanson's system. While some presentations on stress are just rehashes of basic material covered in high school health class, Hanson gets into facts about brain wiring, which makes this CD new and interesting. The actual therapeutic tracks are basically a series of anti-stress hypnotic trances combined with positive thinking and visualizations designed to alter your way of thinking (for example to become more detached or purposefully grateful). Hanson provides hypnotic suggestions that help the listener experience joy in the midst of trials, feel cared about, feel gratitude and contentment, among others. The techniques are typical hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming (can you feel yourself... imagine yourself as a child...feel them in your body...). This is good, because I find hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming to be quick and effective. Also, Hanson's voice is pleasant, which makes for a nice trance.
Overall, The CD provides some powerful tools to rewire the brain to deal with stress properly. I most definitely believe in the power of trance and meditation to de-stress and relax the mind and body. However, my main issue with this CD is that a lot of what it contains isn't really unique. As mentioned above, Hanson is basically doing hypnosis, and as such, his CD is very similar to other self-hypnosis CDs. While Hanson specifically mentions rewiring the brain, I am sure that other similar hypnosis products also have that effect. If you are stressed out, and haven't tried self-hypnosis, then definitely give this CD a try, because the techniques work, and will radically alter your perspective on stress. If you already own similar CDs, or are very familiar with meditation or neuro-linguistic programming, then it is probably redundant to buy this product.
100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
Frankly, I wish Dr. Hanson, could just follow me to work one day and as I get into melt-down mode he could just talk to me in that soothing voice and snap my brain back into a logical mode again. Short of this, (since he is a PHD, he is probably super busy and doesn't have time), listening to one of the 7 meditations on this cd set (2 cd's running a total time of 2.5 hours). This cd is best used when you are someplace quiet and you can either sit with your eyes closed, or lay on the floor in a comfortable resting position. I used these meditations after my daily exercise and it really calmed my mind and centered me. My plan is to keep this set in my car (not for driving, by the way), and when I start to run a little ragged or find myself not in what I call my "happy place", I can go to my car at lunch and practice one of the meditations.
This is not an easy fix, "oh, just do this, and you will totally be zen" kind of things. It is called a practice because you need to do just that, practice. It is not easy to re-wire your brain and it takes active participation for you to recognize you are getting into a stressful area that you need to actively work.
In this cd, you learn to replace unhealthy reactions to stress with mindfulness of the situation and self compassion (if you are like me, you are much harder on yourself then you ever would be to a friend or family member). You also learn to operate on your own principles, to garner kindness to yourself and to others and to better soothe feelings of anxiety, anger, frustration, etc. by applying his techniques.
Did I feel I was a changed person? Well, I have to say, I felt better, and I felt that oftentimes I could look at a situation in a different light and maybe not cause myself undue stress. I feel that this cd if practiced may just sink in, and if I am even able to take away a few things that I can consistently do and remember then I will be on my way.
If you need a little calmness in your life/day and are willing to take about 15-20 minutes to really sit and listen you will be rewarded.
I will caution, there are some times when he does not talk, he gives you a point and then lets you ponder it, so don't be afraid of a little silence....it can be a good thing. You will know when your session is over when you hear the chime sound, so no worries, if there is no talking, let the words sink in and just let the calmness flow over you.
Overall a very good meditation cd that I plan to use often and learn from.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2011
If you walked a path through the woods everyday, that path would become a clear and obvious trail, even if it was a bad path to take because it led through thorns, a bee's nest, and past a bear's den. That's sort of like your old, unproductive ways of dealing with stress. They're not helpful, but they're familiar, so you do them all the time. You need to "rewire" your brain to blaze a new path through the woods, a path that's safer. Yes, the first time you try and take the new path, it will be difficult because it's never been walked before, but it would be easier if you had a guide, wouldn't it? That guide is this CD. And of course, if you kept walking that new, safer, better path, pretty soon it would be a well worn path that was easy to walk as well.
Hopefully that analogy was easy to understand. Basically we need to find better ways to deal with our stress, and at first it's going to be very difficult, but with time and practice it will become increasingly easier. In the end it will be like second nature. I have a master's degree in Social Work and more and more of the "3rd Wave Cognitive Behavioral Therapies" as they're called (ie, the newer stuff) are using meditations like this and "mindfulness" as it's called. This particularly CD deals with stress, but there is tons of peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles on everything from using meditations for any number of mental illnesses and even chronic pain relief.
This CD has a nice narrator (sometimes you get one and the guy has an annoying voice, which is really distracting). The meditations are well chosen, and if done regularly can help to rewire your brain so that you find more productive ways to deal with stress.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
I have done A LOT of reading of books related to Buddhist teachings of which a fundamental element is mindfulness, which is learned and reinforced through meditation. Unfortunately, reading about it -- even reading books specifically on the topics -- were not helpful to me in getting started with the actual practice of meditation. Being guided through the process on these CDs -- which, I must note, is not strictly consistent with the "pure" Buddhist teachings -- however, has enabled me to get started. Of course, keeping up the "practice," which it is called for a VERY good reason, is another issue altogether, but Dr. Hanson's voice and demeanor are so calming and reassuring that I will return to these CDs to keep me on course. (And while I find the meditations themselves the most useful aspect of these CDs, I must say that the "informational" portion is itself interesting, albeit not entirely new to me.)
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
The idea that we can "rewire" our brains is popular (see Dr. Amen's PBS shows), controversial, and intriguing. This 2 disc set, Stress-Proof Your Brain: Meditations to Rewire Neural Pathways for Stress Relief and Unconditional Happiness, is essentially an audio book with some meditation segments included. Topics include anger and forgiveness, relaxation, and approaching vs. avoidance. Some may find these topics helpful and enlightening, while others may struggle with ideas at odds with their way of thinking and worldviews. "Rewiring" your brain isn't something that's done just by listening to a couple of CD's, but takes much practice and dedication and willingness to change. These CD's can be one tool to changing your life in a positive way.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Meditation has always been hard for me. That's probably because of my newly discovered bi-polar and my head not being able to focus. However, I'm an expert on STRESS!
I am the kind of person who likes to learn what the problem is and move through it and forward. This is helpful for doing that. Again, if you're not someone who has had success with meditation, I think this is probably one of the better tools out there to try. It's not just a bunch of "sit down, clear your mind, and say 'ohm' three times": it is far more than that.
The second CD was really what had the greatest impact on me. When I listened to it, I was in the middle of a very chaotic time. I was holding onto a lot of anger...anger to causing me to worry so much that I stressed myself out and had a mini nervous breakdown. (Oh...what fun that was!)
This was one of the only things that helped. It gave me focus and insight about what happened, why it happened, and how to find calmness and peace.
If you're at all "iffy" about this purchase, do it. Make the commitment to really try and experience it. It changed me and it can change you as well!
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2010
As a retired psychotherapist I realized early in my career that many of the problems I saw could have been avoided if my clients had some mind management skills. Simply put, practicing straightforward mental skills can greatly ease our sense of well being and control. Recent brain research has born this idea out, showing that we can effect the plasticity of our brains through repetition of behavior patterns. Stress-Proof Your Brain offers reasonable tools that, with practice, can improve life and reduce stress.
Dr. Hanson offers 7 exercises or meditations that are well conceived and constructed. He also offers a nice introduction to the science of stress and how changing thought patterns can relieve stress. This is not a quick fix. The process requires practice and a reasonable level of dedication. However, the benefits are real, both for increased peace of mind and for improved physical health. The author references Buddhist practices, though not in a preachy way. He mentions that Buddhist meditation is one of the best studied mental training and one that he has practiced. In the sense the author uses the practices they are in no way religious. They are mind training in compassion and equanimity that have stood both the test of time and have scientific validation of their benefits.
I like this audio program. It is well thought out and the exercises are good. I do have a small problem with the authors reading style. Let's say that it's not particularly engaging. Then having an amateur speaker reading prepared material seldom is. That's a small nit to pick with this otherwise solid product.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I enjoyed both CDs, probably first more than second. Lots of other reviewers said they liked the meditation lessons a little more, I actually preferred learning about the brain, human biology and effects of stress on our bodies.
I loved Dr. Hanson's voice! So soothing. The lessons were really helpful. Overall, I'd recommend this CD to those interested in learning and living a relatively stress-free life.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The cds start out with a lot of information on the human brain that probably goes beyond what many people are expecting or wanting from a meditation tape. However, once you get beyond this information the meditations and the shorter introductory material the author provides at the beginning of each meditation are good.
Like others here, I was hoping for some great NEW insights and meditation approaches that I hadn't been exposed to before. While I was a bit disappointed in that respect--I thought the cds were very good and I REALLY liked how he identified and then provided meditations for some very useful topics such as:
2. Feeling Connected
3. Gladness, Gratitude, and Contentment
4. Virtues and Aspirations
5. The Avoidance System
6. Feeling Stronger and Safer
7. Anger and Forgiveness
Bottomline: These are good! Just skip past the first sections where he "lectures" on the brain and get to the actual meditations.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2010
This two-CD set is a concise program to help reduce the effects of stress. For me, the best part about this program was the introductory material. Dr. Hanson explains the human stress response--where it comes from, how it is triggered, what are its consequences, and what we can do about it. Dr. Hanson's explanation is clear and not too scientific or overloaded with jargon. Now that I am better able to recognize my body's stress response, I feel I am better able to control it.
The meditation tracks encourage the user to reflect on causes of stress and to adopt healthier responses to stress (such as becoming more grateful). Dr. Hanson's voice is soothing and not at all irritating, which is a requirement for good meditations. I found the mediation tracks to be similar to other meditations I've done before. They are helpful but not unique.