I inherited the headache gene from my mother. I’ll get headaches when I’m not eating right, not drinking enough, sleeping enough or if I’m stressed. Sometimes they are mild, the kind you can ignore. Other times they make it hard to concentrate on anything, and all I want to do is lie down and try to sleep so the pain will go away. In cases like these even pills can’t take the edge off. But I found something that does help and in many cases cure my headaches.

The great thing about this technique is that you don’t need to have years of experience with visualization or mediation. If you can day dream, then you can complete this exercise!

Find somewhere you can be undisturbed for about five minutes. Ideally you would be able to lie down in a dark and quiet room, but if you’re at work this is probably not possible. The key is to find a place where you can be alone and relax (a deserted lunchroom or quiet park bench for example). If you will be sitting, then gently align your spine so you have a fairly straight back. If it feels better, lean against the back of the chair for support. If you have a bed, lie on your back with your arms by your side.

Begin by breathing deeply and slowly, concentrating on relaxing. When you are ready, concentrate on your head, and forget the outside world.

Imagine that your skull is made of energy. Give it a color! I usually choose silver, but you might prefer a soothing blue or radiant yellow.

Once you have this image in your mind locate the center of the headache. You want to feel the pain, and confront it with your full focus. Start contracting the energy towards it. Make the skull-shaped energy field get smaller and more spherical. Make it contract around the pain in your head, until the pain is completely surrounded by the ball of energy.

When this image is strong in your mind, see the sphere (with the pain inside) slowly taking the shortest route out of your head. As the sphere leaves your body the headache may move with it, or might just start to fade (as it does with me).

Don’t stop your concentration once the sphere is outside. You still have to dispose of it properly. Imagine the sphere moving away from you, and out of the building. Control it downwards until you see it sink into the earth, and out of sight.

Bring your attention back to your body. Keep your eyes closed and your breathing slow and steady. Feel for pain in your head. In some cases the pain may have completely vanished. You might feel a few last throbs of pain before it goes for good. If your headache remains, it should have at least lessened somewhat. Try the visualization again to see if you can sweep up more of the pain.

The key to this exercise is calm resolve. The usual reaction to a headache is to try and ignore the building pain, while it grows and takes the enjoyment of the day away from you. Instead meet the pain head-on, treat it like an invader that you are going to eliminate. Put that strength and resolve into the energy that you use to capture it. If your first attempt doesn’t work, don’t give up. If you doubt the effectiveness of this exercise, then it probably won’t do a thing. Put scepticism aside and be confident. Do you feel even a little better? If yes, then it worked! Keep at it and the results will only improve.

To close, I want to put a quick word in about headache prevention. Some people are just prone to headaches, and will get them no matter what they do. However, the following tips can help ward them off.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid products that contain white or refined sugar as much as possible. Stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re like me and you just forget to drink water then make a point of going to the water cooler every two hours, filling your cup and drinking it right there before you let yourself sit down again.

Get enough sleep. Listen to your body and go to bed when you’re tired. Television has been proven to make deep, restful sleep difficult. Turn the television off at least thirty minutes before you get in bed and instead incorporate a relaxing bedtime routine like sipping tea and reading.

Sleep on your side or back. Sleeping on your stomach causes a lot of pressure to build in your neck and cause a tension headache, because your head is twisted sideways all night. If you find anything other than your stomach uncomfortable then consider investing in a slip on pillow-top cover for your mattress. The extra padding will support your body better than a conventional flat mattress, especially if you’re a woman. Many people find that placing a pillow between their knees helps them sleep on their sides. If you wake up in the middle of the night, take five seconds to correct your sleep posture if needed.

Take breaks. Don’t do any one thing for too long, especially if you’re reading or working at a computer. Even two minutes of standing, stretching and looking around will rejuvenate you and help prevent eye strain and stress headaches.