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Learning to visualize is essential to taking control over your beliefs. It consists of choosing to see images in your mind's eye that will effect the way you feel and respond sexually. What you see in your mind's eye guides you to respond in a more positive and pleasurable way. Remember, our anxiety centers don't distinguish between what is "real" and "imagined." If you imagine yourself being pulled over by a state police officer and clearly see that flashing blue light behind your speeding car, you may actually feel your pulse rate climbing. On the other hand, if you remember an especially warm positive loving moment, you create an inner feeling of comfort and calm.

Now don't immediately say, "I can't visualize." Some people visualize easily, and others need a little more time, but everyone can learn to develop their visualizations. To practice, look out the window of your car, office, or home. Pay attention to everything that you see for a few minutes. Now close your eyes and imagine all that you can recall as clearly as you could with your eyes open. Practice this each day and you're developing your imagery capacity.

1. Relax and focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose and practice abdominal breathing. Breathe deeply, but don't hyperventilate. Release the breath counting backwards from 5-4-3-2-1 feeling yourself becoming more and more relaxed with each descending number. Repeat this process for 5 breaths.

2. Visualize the greatest sex of your life. It can be something you've seen in a movie, read in a romance novel, something you've actually experienced, or something you'd like to experience. See it as clearly as you can -- every facet of it. Visualize the colors, textures, smells, and tastes. Visualize yourself experiencing everything exactly as you'd like to. See yourself in the most positive way you can Ü responding and being responded to in a way that feels just right at this moment in time.

3. Dealing with distractions. Have you ever wondered how an athlete doesn't become distracted by the noise of the crowd? If you ask him/her they'll probably ask you, "What noise?" They were so focused on the feeling of the basketball on their fingertips that they didn't experience anything else. Have you ever been so deeply engrossed in a movie that you didn't hear the person crunching on popcorn next to you? How did you make that happen? I researched this phenomenon in my first book, Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Sex (Dutton, 1993) and named the experience "absorption." It's the ability to be so deeply immersed in something of interest that nothing else is noticed.

To experience Extraordinary Sex, you must learn to recognize your own personal patterns of distraction and choose to absorb yourself in pleasure. Under what circumstances do you become worried, nervous, or anxious? When does your mind wander during sex? At what point in lovemaking do you lose your erotic focus? Once you've identified this moment, you are ready to choose a more enjoyable outcome.

Now go back to your visualization (see #2). As you're involved in this wonderful lovemaking moment, simulate a distraction -- any distraction that steals your erotic focus. It could be some worry, concern, an outside interruption, or a fear. Anything. As this distraction occurs, tell it that it can leave or stay--it doesn't matter, but you're going back to focusing on what feels good to you in the moment.

4. Enhance your erotic focus. Continue to focus on what feels good to you. What are you smelling, tasting, touching, and enjoying? Allow yourself to become ONE with all of the positive sensations or thoughts in your mind. Whenever you feel a distraction, return to what feel good. You can practice this erotic focus in real life by "really" tasting an M&M or a spoonful of rich creamy ice cream. Taste it with every taste bud. Become those M&M's! The ability to become lost in a moment of pleasure is the real secret to experiencing Extraordinary Sex.

Practice your Visualization LoveTool every day. The next time you'd like to get into a positive "frame of mind" to make love, go through the visualization steps. It'll become natural once you get the knack and it doesn't take very long. You'll recognize that you've probably gone through the same steps (in a negative way) and now you're just choosing a positive direction. During your lovemaking, if your mind should wander, use the suggestions in #3. If it does, don't fight with your distractions. Choose to replace it with something pleasurable instead. But most of all, as always, have fun!

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