Today we are going to explore a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also called tapping, a universal healing tool that can provide impressive results for physical, emotional, and performance issues. Along with personalised statements, tapping can be used to reduce the intensity of stress in the moment or to propel yourself into the future self you want to become.
We are going to explore what tapping is, its history, how to use the technique, the benefits, and the research behind it. This article will focus on how to use tapping to relieve stress and anxiety.
What is Tapping?
Tapping itself is the act of gentle touching on specific energy points, as a way of healing the body or improving an aspect of your life. It operates on the premise that behind any area of your life that needs improvement lies an unresolved emotional issue getting in the way of your success. By tapping on these nine specific points, you are literally tapping into your own energy and healing power.
It is now common knowledge that the mind and body are connected. Even physical issues like chronic pain or undiagnosed conditions are being caused or at the very least worsened by emotional stress. EFT is in the field of energy psychology, meaning that it’s a form of psychology that also integrates touching energy systems of the physical body to unlock stored memories, negative charges, or stagnation in the emotional system.
By combining personalised statements and the power of these energy systems, you can unblock stagnant energy, reduce stress, and rewire your brain to experience life in a more peaceful way.
What is EFT?
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is the long form name for this method of tapping, also called EFT Tapping. The tapping movements are paired with specific words to released the stored or trapped underlying emotion.
The points themselves are up to nine key acupuncture points, which are stimulated by touch instead of by needles. The method is rooted in the belief that all our ailments have an emotional component. By addressing the emotional issue, you clear the way for the body to begin healing.
The sequence of a personalized statement and tapping sequence focus on a “bare emotion” one at a time (a single negative emotion like embarrassment, or a single physical ailment like back pain). Targeting each trauma (be it emotional or physical) separately brings more focus to your tapping, and so increases the beneficial response. You can tailor your statement to address current stress or use it to project yourself into the future self that you want to become.
Tapping is a self-administered therapy, and it’s accessible nature is one of the greatest aspects of tapping, because it:
- Costs you nothing to implement.
- Doesn’t require formal training to learn.
- Is self-empowering, no therapist required.
- Can be used as a tool to assist with a range of issues, be they physical, emotional, or performance based.
How to Use Tapping
You can essentially harness the power of tapping to breakthrough any part of your life that you feel stuck in; but for the purpose of this example we will focus on anxiety.
- To use tapping effectively you want to first and foremost isolate which issue you want to deal with, and focus on them one at a time. In the case of anxiety it could be general anxiety, or ideally you can focus on specific situation or issue which causes you to feel anxious.
- Rate the intensity of the situation from 0 to 10 (0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest).
- Now you will want to set up your statement, which should be structured first in acknowledging the problem, followed by an unconditional positive affirmation for yourself as a human being.
Examples would be:
“Even though I feel this anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m anxious about my presentation, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m feeling this anxiety about my interview, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I panic when I think about approaching my boss, I deeply and completely accept myself. ”
“Even though I’m worried about how to be a good parent, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m having trouble with _______, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
- Begin your tapping practice by working your way through all nine points:
- The outer edge of the hand: using four fingers from the opposite hand, tap the side of your outer palm (between the base of your little finger, and your wrist); repeat the prepared statement aloud three times while tapping this area. Now take a deep breath. And continue onto the other points:
- Eyebrow: The inner edges of the eyebrows, closest to the bridge of the nose. Use two fingers.
- Side of the eye: The hard area between the eye and the temple. Use two fingers. Be mindful here, not to poke yourself in the eye!
- Under the eye: The hard area under the eye, that merges with the cheekbone. Use two fingers, in line beneath the pupil.
- Under the nose: The point centered between the bottom of the nose and the upper lip. Use two fingers.
- Chin: This point is right beneath the previous one, and is centered between the bottom of the lower lip and the chin.
- Collarbone: Tap just below the hard ridge of your collarbone with four fingers.
- Underarm: On your side, about four inches beneath the armpit. Use four fingers.
- Top of the head: The crown, center and top of the head. Tap with all four fingers on both hands.
- Take another deep breath, and rate the level of your anxiety again on a scale of 0 to 10. If your anxiety is above a 2, you can repeat the entire sequence until the levels of stress and anxiety are gone.
You can also rephrase your statement to include your ideal or optimal solution, or efforts you are making to fix the problem. For example, “even though I am still a little nervous about this interview, I deeply and completely accept myself”.
It’s important to note that tapping and the use of affirmative statement varies from conventional “positive thinking”. The purpose of the statement is not denial or false positivity, it is to acknowledge the situation and honour your acceptance of self irrelevant of how you are currently feeling.
Your worth transcends the current sensation of stress of anxiety, and by reconnecting with this deep sense of worth you are also able to regain control of your emotions and find peace in the present moment. Instead of laying a blanket of positivity on top of your current emotions, you’re actually ushering yourself into a positive place by reconnecting with your true nature.
Once you calm down, you can also use affirmations to project yourself into a better future, and reframe your inner dialogue. Examples include:
“I have faith in my ability to change.”
“I am becoming a more relaxed and joyful person.”
“I love the person that I am.”
“I am joyful about these positive changes.”
“I enjoy the calm and peace that I have.”
“I am accomplishing so much.”
The History of Tapping (EFT)
Tapping was developed by Gary Craig in the early 1990’s as a way to make energy flow manipulation accessible to everyone without the need for a trained acupuncturist. The method harnesses the Eastern medicine principles of energy meridian points, that have been used for over 5,000 years in both acupuncture and acupressure.
These meridian points date back to ancient Egypt. In one case a well-preserved 5,000 year old mummy, now names Otzi, was discovered frozen in glacier between Austria and Egypt.
Scientific examination suggested Otzi suffered from back pain, and it appeared he had been “treated” using tattoos on and near meridian points that are used in modern day to treat back pain. The healing powers of meridian points have also been explored in Papyrus scriptures from Egypt dating back to 1550 BC.
Modern treatment using meridian points for healing was developed and formalized in Chinese medicine. The first known complete text on acupuncture is the Huang Di Nei Jing (or Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) which dates back to the Warring States Period 476-221 BC. This text is still the basis for modern day acupuncture.
Targeting specific meridian points with a needle affects the flow of energy in the body. It is said that disease is generated by a disrupted flow of energy, and by targeting specific ailments or symptoms with their related energy centres, you can reinstate balance in the body.
Tapping harnesses this same concept of reinstating the body’s natural energy flow, and has revolutionized the world of health and wellness. This self-administered technique is providing relief from chronic pain, emotional problems, disorders, addictions, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder, and physical diseases.
Tapping for Emotional Healing
Bad memories trigger your brain’s limbic system, which then triggers a cascade of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, essentially bringing the trauma back into the present moment and bringing your body back into the traumatic state as if it was currently happening all over again.
Although thinking about the traumatic event can feel unpleasant, the tapping technique enabled you to re-frame the experience, and the ultimate goal is to allow your body to naturally process the emotion in your life so that you can release the pain associated with it.
Tapping for Anxiety & Stress
Tapping is a incredibly effective and drug-free way to alleviate anxiety. EFT can be used for anxiety and stress relief because it enables you to reconnect with yourself in the present moment, and address the problematic internal dialogue that is causing you to experience these negative emotions.
Whether your stress is related in a past trauma, or you are simply projecting fear-based possibilities into the future, or even if you are experiencing genuine in-the-moment stress: EFT can help lower cortisol levels and quiet the chatter of the mind.
Where Does Anxiety Come From?
Anxiety, alike all negative emotions, are felt as a disruption of the body’s energy. Anxiety is rooted in a projection into the future based on something we have experienced in the past, and leaves us feeling unwell in the present moment.
The fear creates a feedback loop, in which the more we experience anxiety, the more we fear the future possibilities, which feed the anxiety of the moment. To heal from anxiety-related problems it is important that we reprogram the minds expectations not to fear what may be coming, and instead find a deep acceptance of what may be.
Although anxiety is rooted in our way of thinking, its effects are very much experienced in the physical body. Our thoughts have the ability to dysregulated the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, and flood our body with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Overtime, these levels of underlying chronic stress are associated with chronic inflammation and a host of illnesses.
Benefits of Tapping for Anxiety
The benefits of tapping for anxiety are profound, and work in the short term and long term. In the short term, you can harness the power of tapping to calm yourself from the perceived threat and all its associated hormonal impact on your state of mind and wellbeing. Sensations like overwhelm, fear, and panic can be reduced dramatically in a single session.
By using specific words, you can improve your internal dialogue and calm yourself down. In the long run, EFT can also help you reprogram the deeper (possibly root) causes of your anxiety, by addressing traumatic events in your life.
Research Behind Tapping for Anxiety
Studies have shown that tapping has measurable benefits on the body, most especially in the area of hormone stimulation, regulation (driving down cortisol levels), and stress reduction.
Although there is always a fair bit of skepticism surrounding any form of “alternative” medicine, the anecdotal and scientific evidence demonstrates real and lasting breakthroughs using tapping in various different realms. Positive effects have been demonstrated in cases of:
- Addiction (like food cravings)3
- Athletic performance7
How Does Tapping for Anxiety Work?
By using conscious wording and tapping along these meridian points, you are reminding your mind that you are not currently under threat, and can relax. The anxiety is generally rooted in past events, that are being projected into the future, and tapping helps bring you back to the present moment.
By breaking the link between your memory and the fight-or-flight response, you are rewiring your brain to prevent future anxious episodes. In time, a traumatic event or anxious-response to a certain situation will no longer elicit the same stress-based reaction.
How Long Should You Tap?
You should begin by tapping at least once daily, for 10 to 15 minutes is recommended. EFT tapping can be useful both for expelling negative energy from previous trauma, and in the moment when pain or anxiety is rising.
To work on previous trauma, it’s useful to set a specific time of day to incorporate EFT into your routine. Before bed is especially useful to release tension from the day, and may help you sleep better.
You can also reach for a tapping sequence whenever you need it. Give the pain or trauma a number rating from 0 to 10, and use tapping to help bring that number down. EFT can be very useful as a tool that you can use to work on long term issues and when you’re in the middle of experiencing pain or anxiety.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) also known as tapping, is a form of energy psychology in which words are used simultaneously with gentle tapping along energy centers, as a way to clear stored emotions that may be interfering with your life. The method can be used to heal past traumas (both emotional and physical), as well as a way to deal with in the moment anxiety and stress.
To reap the benefits, it is recommended you use EFT at least once a day, for 10-15 minutes, and work on only one issue at a time. Tapping is a powerful tool to incorporate into your health routine, alongside other key players like detox, diet, and movement.