Pain is, well, a pain. That was deep, right? It matters not whether we ache from a physical or emotional place, when we hurt, we want it to stop. Meridian tapping, also referred to as either Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or simply tapping, can provide a way to diminish and even eliminate pain.
Our bodies store all our experiences. Ideally, we’d work through things as they happen so memories don’t hold negative emotional charges, but we often don’t. We push through without considering the impact unprocessed feelings can have. The short term relief we get from skimming over the tough stuff can have long term consequences, and because symptoms crop up months or even years after an incident, the source of our distress isn’t always obvious. Discomfort that immediately follows an injury makes sense to us—bruised and swollen we understand. Sadness, anger, anxiety, or physical pain without a recent event to explain it, though, we don’t. Fortunately, we can use tapping to work through the stuff we’ve buried to eliminate our pain once and for all.
Our bodies are wonderfully complex electrical organisms. We are energy beings. Acupuncture and acupressure are well-respected methods for repairing glitches in our electrical systems and eliminating pain. Tapping on the body’s meridian points has the same effect and when combined with a verbal script to keep us focused on the problem we’re addressing, the results can be dramatic.
There are a number of theories as to why tapping works, but there’s little doubt that it does. It’s commonly believed that tapping calms and reprograms the amygdala, an almond-shaped area of the brain where memories are stored and categorized: safe or dangerous. When we find ourselves in situations we’ve encountered before, the amygdala assesses them and sends us the safety report.
For example, let’s say you fell into a swimming pool when you were very young. The fear you felt then might crop back up every time you’re near water or even think about going in the water, thanks to your amygdala. It remembers the early dangerous incident (even if you don’t have any conscious memory of it) and sends warning signs (the fight, flight, or freeze response) to your body whenever you’re near water, in order to keep you safe. The amygdala is a lovely gatekeeper, but it’s a bit of an overachiever. Tapping while bringing to mind uncomfortable feelings sends a message to the amygdala: All is well.
Acupuncturists study and use over 300 meridian points in their work. In tapping, only nine are used for the basic procedure, which is what I’ll cover here. Eight are shown in the following photo. The ninth is called the karate chop point, which is located along the outside edge of the hand, at the spot Daniel LaRusso connected with those six blocks of ice in Karate Kid II. The karate chop point is tapped at the beginning of an EFT session while a set-up statement is said aloud. After that, the remainder of the tapping rounds are done using only the other eight points.
If it’s your first time tapping, it will probably feel more than a little silly. I’ll admit it does seem hokey, but if you’re hurting, why not try? Okay, here’s how you go about tapping (I’ll use the example of the fear of water, but you can substitute whatever is bothering you):
- Think of what’s troubling you (emotionally or physically) and label the intensity of what you feel right now on a scale of 1-10.
- Tap the karate chop point of one hand with the fingertips of your other (or you can tap the karate chop points of your two hands against one another) while repeating the following set-up statement three times: “Even though I’m terrified of going in the water, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
- Next, move through the tapping points in the above photo, starting at the top of your head and moving to the eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, chin, collarbone, and under the arm. Tap each of these places a handful of times while staying focused on the fear or pain. It’s important to really feel the issue you’re working on, so stay engaged and don’t go through the sequence in robot mode. It’s a good idea to speak a reminder phrase as you tap to help maintain your focus (“this fear of the water”) and to mentally put yourself in the feared or painful scene (or focus on your physical pain, if that’s what you’re working on).
- After a round or two, stop and assess how you feel. Has the intensity diminished? Are you feeling something different? Sometimes, one feeling morphs into another as you work through a tapping session. For example, fear of the water might change to anger at your parents for not watching you and letting you fall into the pool. The anger might then morph into sadness because of all the joy you’ve missed because of being crippled by your fear. Work on whatever comes up, changing your wording to address emerging feelings. Keep at it until you bring that number way down. It might happen in one tapping session or it might require additional sessions over multiple days.
- With repeated rounds, the body calms and the amygdala recognizes the scenario as a safe one. Fears, anger, and even physical pains that have been in place for decades can melt away. The memories remain, but they no longer hold negative charges.
A few tips: Tapping is best done with two or three fingertips to make sure the right spots get tapped. The recommended pressure to apply is similar to what you’d use if you were drumming your fingertips on your desk. It shouldn’t be feather-light, but it shouldn’t cause discomfort. You can tap on either side of your body, or both. It’s fine to alternate sides if that’s the most comfortable.
Locating the tapping spots isn’t difficult. The top of the head spot is in the center at about where a line connecting the tops of your ears would be. The eyebrow points are where your eyebrows begin, above your nose. The side of the eye points are right on the bone—not so close as to make you blink when you touch them, but not back toward your ears, either. Under the eye spots are again along the bony ridge. Under the nose is in the indention above your top lip. The chin point is actually just above the chin, right at the crease. Collarbone points are found about an inch down and an inch out toward your shoulders from the inner points on your collarbone (feel for the little horseshoe-shaped indention, move your fingers to one of the high edges, and then move down and out about an inch each way). The under the arm point is about 4 inches down from the armpit (mid bra-line for women). Again, by using a few fingers to do the tapping, you pretty much eliminate any chance for error.
When you’re in the midst of an emotional upset or are experiencing significant physical discomfort, you can run through the tapping points without doing the set-up statement and voicing the reminder phrases. Simply focus on your feelings. You can also just talk about what’s going on as you tap–tell the story as if you are relaying it to a friend–again being sure to stay in touch with the associated emotions. No matter which method you use, the most important thing is to focus on your feelings as you tap.
If you’re still doubtful that tapping might provide relief from your physical or emotional pain, I urge you to watch The Tapping Solution. Tapping has been used with good results for decades by both psychologists and laypeople, but knowing that can’t compare to seeing it in action. I might not be able to convince you to tap on your troubles, but I’ll bet this movie will.
Next time: Moments in Time
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