For years, when I referred to ‘tap tap’ it was my shorthand for a very gentle style of Japanese pediatric acupuncture called Shonishin – which involves applying very light stimulation using silver acupuncture tools to the developing meridians in children with the aim of balancing their energetic system and enabling the body to regain it’s homeostatic equilibrium. It’s a very effective and very simple approach to treating children that literally ‘taps’ into their ‘yang’ energy, meaning that you don’t need to do very much to get a positive response. The other aspect of this system, is that it can be done at home by parents (and even children to their favourite soft toy animal!), so everyone is actively involved in the process – and it’s fun!
So when I started thinking about writing this piece about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), I was struck by the similarities. EFT is also known in common parlance, as ‘tapping’ and also involves tapping lightly on acupuncture points to move the energy, to clear blockages at the physical and emotional level. It is also very effective and brings about quick responses and can also be used at home as a self help support system, enabling disturbances to be dealt with in present time, rather than have them build up and cause more disruption further down the line.
We all know what it feels like to have had an argument or a difficult situation that hasn’t been resolved and how that feels when it just sits and festers in our consciousness….how we can spend enormous amounts of time mulling it over, or have it bothering us, disturbing our sleep and leaving us feeling out of sorts and possibly even spilling over and affecting in negative ways, other relationships – this might continue for a few days, till the issue is addressed; but it can also continue to affect us for months and in some cases even for years – impacting on us and our relationships and holding us back from realizing our full potential.
As part of the EFT technique, we tap on acupuncture points in the upper part of the body whilst identifying particular negative emotions or physical ailments including painful conditions. An affirmation is also used as part of the technique as a way of acknowledging the negative whilst also reinforcing some positive statement about ourselves. We all know that often we are our worst critic and we give ourselves a hard time on top of whatever is going on.
EFT developed out of an understanding that every thought and emotion causes a reaction in the brain and also registers in the physical body. We all know the feeling of being nervous about something and experiencing this as a feeling of butterflies in the stomach or possibly sweating in the palms.
EFT can be used to overcome unwanted emotions such as fear, guilt, shame and anger. It can be used to change unwanted habits and behavior such as smoking and cravings. It can be used to address self-limiting and debilitating phobias and beliefs that stop us achieving the things we would like in our lives. Tapping can be a great way to prepare for that scary presentation you are about to give at work or at a conference, in front of a large number of people.
I have had the experience of seeing someone overcome a lifetime of fear of heights, working back through various incidences that led to this phobia that not only affected him but which he could see was being passed on to his children through his own fears and anxieties.
Another client, with a passion for endurance long distance running but who felt held back and frustrated from fulfilling his dream of running in the canyons in California, overcame his fear of heights and fear of falling over edges.
Distressing or uncomfortable experiences from the past can have an effect in present day and be activated by situations that are perceived to be similar, even if there is no current threat or danger. By stimulating these specific points on the body, electrochemical signals are sent directly to your brain at the same time as identifying the particular emotion that is causing the problem. Doing these two things simultaneously, enables the brain to shift its response to the situation. Research has shown that EFT calms down the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for releasing the flight and fright stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol.
We always start with what we are feeling in present time as our bodies talk to us directly so that we don’t need to sit and try to analyse why something is the way it is – we literally tap in and let our body make the connections. Through tapping we also get to hear some of the underlying messages that we have adopted and made ‘real’ – such as “I always have to be busy to be worthwhile….” , “I’m only going to be successful if I work really hard….” “I am very sensitive and have to be really careful of what I eat otherwise…..” – of course all these statements are valid in some way and have grown out of our own experiences (or in some cases that of our parents), but they can also become self-limiting beliefs and self-fulfilling prophecies.
I had a client come to me recently who was unable to put herself first and felt she had to do everything for her family (her children were grown up and living at home); she also felt like she was teased a lot of the time and not taken seriously. After one session of tapping, she started making changes, asserting her own needs, stopped doing everything for everyone else and started taking herself seriously/respecting herself…..she felt quite liberated and excited to see the changes around her.
EFT doesn’t always resolve everything in one session, but positive changes can be felt quite immediately – reducing pain levels and other physical manifestations. It teaches us to be compassionate with ourselves in the way that we are with friends and family, and to accept what is going on without judgment as the starting point to make change.
Through the Tapping Solution Foundation charity, EFT has been used in a diverse range of settings around the world, including Rwanda, Newtown where the school shootings took place, war veterans and other situations where people are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorders. These are extreme situations, but any kind of disturbance in our bodies is a ‘trauma’ even on a micro-level and EFT can enable you to experience an inner calm and letting go.
Marian Fixler LLB(Hons), Dip Ac, Clin Ac (China), MBAcC, MAAMET
Advanced EFT practitioner & Member of the Association for the Advancement of Meridian Energy Techniques (AAMET)
Member of the British Acupuncture Council
Marian has been in practice for 26 years and works at Shine Holistic on Mondays and Thursdays.