Besides meditation, another technique that I use whenever I am feeling stressed or anxious is tapping. Actually tapping helps me heal any negative emotion that I have, either from the present or the past. For example if I am:
- Upset with my boyfriend for some reason
- Sad because a loved one died
- Anxious with a deadline
- Afraid to do something
- Angry with someone who hurt
So what is tapping? Tapping is a combination of acupuncture and psychology and, from my experience, it presents great results in a short period of time. Besides this, you can start now using this technique if you want!
First time I heard about tapping was in the book The Wild Genie (2013), by Alexandra Pope. I got curious about this technique, so I decided to find in the Internet more information about it. I must admit that my first impression, once I saw how this technique works, was not that good. I thought it was something strange and I was skeptical about it…However I decided to give it a try and soon I started seeing its results. I even thought about writing a chapter about tapping in my book Back to Natural, but then I decided that it was too soon. I needed to continue practicing it until I was 100% sure of its efficiency. That is why I am writing this post now.
As I didn´t have much information about this technique I decided to buy the book The Tapping Solution (2013), by Nick Ortner. I got to know that it was created in 1979 by Dr. Callahan, a psychologist who studied the body´s meridians, to help one of his patients heal a water phobia she had. But maybe you are asking yourself: what are meridians? Meridians are energetic channels that transport the chi (vital energy) throughout the body. They are present in both sides of the body and each pair is related to a specific organ (e.g., stomach, kidneys). You can access the meridians through acupuncture needles or by applying the tapping method.
Dr. Callahan´s technique was later simplified by one of his students, Gary Craig. He created a unique sequence which is the base of what is now called the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). I will show it in a minute. However, let me first explain you a bit more about the science behind this technique.
When we are experiencing a negative emotional state our brain becomes alert making our body ready for a fight or flight response. This mechanism existed in the past, so we could quickly react to an external threat such as a lion. To be able to face this danger our adrenaline and cortisol levels would rise in order to fight or flight. Nowadays this reaction is not caused by an external threat, but by an internal trigger, such as a negative experience. This accumulative drip drip drip wears us out, but according to Nick Ortner (supported by several studies) tapping stops our body from going into fight or flight response. How is this possible? Well, this fight or flight response is activated by the amygdala, one of the components of the limbic system. This system is composed of structures in the brain that deal with emotions and long-term memory and it also retains the negative experiences. Well, tapping seems to deactivate the amygdala´s alarm because the continuous touch with our fingertips in different parts of our body where the meridians are located sends a calming response to the body and the amygdala thinks the danger is gone. It is safe to relax.
Let´s look at the EFT sequence now. It is composed by nine points:
1. Karate chop
Located on the outer edge of the hand, beneath the little finger. Use four fingers.
Located on the inner edges next to your nose. Use two fingers.
3. Side of eye
Located on the hard area between the eye and the temple. Use two fingers.
4. Under eye
Located on the hard area under the eye. Use two fingers.
5. Under nose
Located right in the little groove between the nose and the upper lip. Use two fingers.
Located right in the little groove between the lower lip and the chin. Use two fingers.
Located below the hard ridge. Use your whole hand to make it easier.
Located four inches beneath the armpit (bra strap). Use your whole hand to make it easier.
9. Top of head
Located on the crown. Use four fingers.
It is also important to use a rating scale from 0 to 10 to track your progress with 0 meaning no intensity and 10 maximum intensity.
Before starting you have to think about the problem you are having and focus on it. For example, “I am anxious”. However you need to be more specific. Why are you anxious? “I am anxious because I have to do a presentation tomorrow in front of 50 people”. When you think about this problem do you feel any tension in any part of your body? “I feel a knot in my stomach”.
Now we can begin. State your problem (preferably aloud, but you can say it to yourself if you prefer) and rate it on a scale from 0 to 10. Write it down if you like. Next, it is time for you to begin tapping. Tap on each of the points while saying (preferably aloud) what is your problem. For example:
1. Karate chop: Even though I am anxious because I have to do a presentation tomorrow in front of 50 people, I love and accept myself (say it 3x)
2. Eyebrow: I can´t stop thinking about this presentation (say it 1x or more if you feel it is not enough)
3. Side of eye: I doubt I can do this right (1x or more)
4. Under eye: What if I forget the right words? (1x or more)
5. Under nose: What if people start laughing? (1x or more)
6. Chin: I don´t think I can do this (1x or more)
7. Collarbone: I feel a knot in my stomach (1x or more)
8. Underarm: I am so anxious (1x or more)
9. Top of head: This means so much to me (1x or more)
Only you can find the best words to describe your problem and for how long you need to tap. But let´s say you did three tapping rounds (after the first one you don´t need to repeat point 1) and you are feeling much better. Now it is time for you to start saying positive things while tapping. For example:
1. Eyebrow: But I know I can do this (1x or more)
2. Side of eye: I have done so many important things in my life (1x or more)
3. Under eye: This is just a presentation and I am prepared to do it right (1x or more)
4. Under nose: I am confident about this (1x or more)
5. Chin: I have practiced it before (1x or more)
6. Collarbone: I am powerful (1x or more)
7. Underarm: Everything will be fine (1x or more)
8. Top of head: I believe in myself. I can do it (1x or more)
After this, take three deep breaths. State your problem again: “I am anxious because I have to do a presentation tomorrow in front of 50 people”. How would you rate if now? Is it a 7? Then it is still too intense and you need to tap more. Or a 2? That is very good! Sometimes 5-15 minutes are just enough, but depending on the seriousness of the problem it can take longer, even months. This is because tapping is also used for phobias (as I mentioned before), weight loss and physical pain, but I don´t have personal experience on this matter.
This post is already way too long! I leave you with a video that will help you better understand how to use this technique.
I would love to hear from you. Please share your tapping experience!