It is often easy to get caught up in our thoughts, our emotions, or our physical symptoms, allowing them to become the primary focus of our day. Rarely do we step back and take a look at how each of these three aspects may be connected to each other. In holistic approaches to wellness and mental health, it is impossible to address our emotional self without also addressing our physical and mental self. There are many forms of therapy that help to build this mind-body connection, and one of my favorites to use with clients, as well as for my own self-care, is the Emotional Freedom Technique.
Emotional Freedom Technique - also known as EFT or Tapping - is an alternative method to treat anxiety, depression, physical pain, emotional distress, and insomnia. Stemming from Chinese medicine thought, this method focuses on the areas of the body where there may be energetic imbalances, leading to mental and physical illness. Through tapping on these various acupuncture, or meridian, points, we are able to help restore the body’s energy to its optimal frequency and health. Additionally, placing pressure on these points allows the body to send signals to the parts of the brain that controls stress levels. Tapping these points helps the body to relieve stress levels and reduce negative emotions, effectively leading to restore balance throughout the body.
EFT focuses on nine major meridian points, as used within Chinese medicine. Each of these meridians are associated with a physical part of our body, and can have an influence on not only mental and emotional health, but also physical health. When using EFT, these points are tapped in a particular order:
The karate chop is located on the outer side of the hand. It is associated with the small intestines.
The top of the head is associated with the governing vessel.
The eyebrows are associated with the bladder. When tapping, tap just above your eyebrows.
The side of your eyes are associated with the gallbladder.
Under the eyes is associated with the stomach.
Under the nose is associated with the governing vessel.
The chin is associated with the central vessel.
The beginning of the collarbone is associated with the kidneys.
Under the arms are associated with the spleen. When tapping, tap just below your armpits, or wherever is most comfortable for you.
A full EFT Tapping practice includes more than just the tapping.
First, it is important to have an understanding of what your core issue is, and specifically the emotions that you are feeling about that issue. What is it that is causing you to be imbalanced? Are you experiencing anxiety about something in your life or in the current news? Are you having a difficult time sleeping at night? Are you experiencing depression in the form of sadness, anger, or irritation? Get as crystal clear as you can about what your core issue is, then name it to yourself, write it down in a journal or on a piece of paper.
Secondly, measure the intensity of that feeling, which will help you determine how the tapping helps you. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being very little and 10 being the most you have experienced, how strong does this issue feel to you in this moment? Say the number to yourself in your head to remember it, or write it down for future reference.
Third, before beginning to tap, create affirmation and reminder phrases that will help you change your mindset through this process as well. By using these phrases, your body will associate the calming feeling through tapping with the affirmative phrases that you will repeat to yourself. Consciously or subconsciously, your mind will then send you that message as your body relaxes.
Spend some time thinking about how you can take your primary issue and change it into an affirmation. For example, “Even though I have this anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself”. Feel free to customize and specify as much as possible. Once you have your primary affirmation, also create a reminder phrase, such as “I am calm”. If it helps to remember, write these phrases down to reference as you do your tapping.
After setting your affirmation and reminder phrases, say those to yourself as you start your tapping sequence. Begin by tapping your karate chop point while reciting your affirmation phrase 3 times. Then, move on to the other points in the sequence, tapping on each point about 7 times while reciting your reminder phrase. Once complete, repeat the sequence if desired.
When you are ready to conclude your practice, check back on the intensity of your emotion regarding the issue, again using the scale of 1 to 10, to see how it may have changed.
Return to tapping any time that you need a moment of calming throughout your day. If you do not have time for a full EFT sequence, you can simply choose one or more of the meridian points to tap - the collarbone is always a good one to choose for when you are in public or during a conversation with someone!