Learning to tap dance

Shirley Temple was onto something. That perky little girl in old black and white movies always looked at life in a positive manner and found reason after reason to tap dance her way through any difficulty.

No, I’m not going to put on patent leather shoes and do a little jig across the living room floor.  I’m not that coordinated…or perky.

I will, however, sing the praises of a self-development tool called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), commonly known as “tapping.” The technique is used for releasing emotional traumas and negative/limiting beliefs as well as for intercepting physical and emotional pain. It looks silly and a lot of times it feels silly to do it, but in many cases, it works. I’ll explain the process shortly.

I learned about tapping years ago when I saw a YouTube video about the process. The video host, Jessica Ortner, promised it could help things like headaches, tension, stress and a host of other ailments. At the time, I was engrossed in researching any type of self-development tool on the market and I learned the basics through websites and a few free videos.

Like many self-development tools, you only get out of the process what you put into it, and I wasn’t really feeling too anxious about anything in particular. So I tapped a few times, labeled the process as “interesting” and filed it away in the back of my brain. There it sat with other things I have tried over the years, including meditation, the Sedona Technique, yoga, and other spiritual/development processes that promise self-fulfillment and peace.

Fast forward to last week, when I was feeling more stressed than I had in years. Work was out-of-this-world crazy and busy, my home life was distressing thanks to a bad roommate situation and my dog was just home from surgery and needing to recover. I was angry at the world and angry with myself and felt like I had no refuge in which to hide.

For the previous few weeks, I turned to medicine to relieve my stress. Painkillers and muscle relaxants helped ease the physical stress in my body but the effectiveness was quickly wearing off. I was also not sleeping without the use of some pretty heavy-duty sleeping pills–something that worried me. So when I found myself sleep deprived, anxious and tense, I knew something was going to give.

Monday, I reached my limit. I snapped at coworkers and yelled at my best friend (my little dog, Bloo). Muscles in my back started to spasm and I could barely turn my neck from side to side. Knowing I still had work to do that night that would require concentration, I knew I couldn’t medicate myself into oblivion so I started thinking about alternative ways to get me back on my feet.

That’s when tapping/EFT came to mind. I had recently recommended the process to an acquaintance who complained of migraine headaches but I had otherwise not thought about using EFT on myself. Remembering the simplicity of EFT, I sat down on the couch and started tapping.

The technique

The premise to EFT/tapping is simple. You think about—out loud—something that’s bothering you and begin tapping the pads of your fingers on specific points on your head, neck and torso. The points correspond to meridian points used for centuries in Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Meridian points are considered “energy centers” where the body stores and regulates the pulses of electricity that make up our universe (the “life force” of our physical universe).

As you begin tapping rhythmically on these meridian points, you send signals to your brain and body to relax. The body calms and energy starts flowing normally through your system. As I noted, it’s not too unlike acupuncture but without the needles. The process begins with a set-up statement, where you acknowledge the problem before you as well as a reminder that you “accept yourself deeply and completely.” After the set-up statement, you tap through the points on your head, working your way down the body as you talk about the problem aloud.

When I began tapping, I was reminded of the silliness of the process. It feels weird to do it the first few times, although I remembered easily the meridian points and the process itself. Wanting anything that might give me relief, I tapped through several rounds on my most pressing issues.

Those several rounds turned into over an hour of work. I tapped on feeling overwhelmed at work, I tapped on the stress with my roommate, I tapped on the feeling of helplessness I felt for my recovering puppy. After every few rounds of tapping, I checked the effectiveness of the session, using a 0-10 scale of intensity to see if I was making progress. I was.

I kept at it for almost two hours, with a few breaks thrown in for good measure. And in the end, I was…tired. I had reduced my stress to a “0” or “1” on most issues and I felt an ease and comfort in my body that I hadn’t felt in quite a while. My body had released a great amount of tension and I felt free. I was also sleepy and decided to jump into bed and capitalize on the feeling. That night, I slept eight solid hours without a sleeping pill or Advil and woke up feeling great.

As luck would have it, or more accurately as Law of Attraction would have it, the next day I saw an advertisement for a new book on tapping from Nick Ortner, one of the big names in EFT/tapping. His book, The Tapping Solution, had just been published that week and I noted the synchronicity. The Tapping Solution is an excellent introduction to the modality of tapping and takes the reader through the common uses for tapping as well as provides sample scripts to read while banging away at the head and chest.

Going deeper

While I had great success the first night of using tapping, my next attempt wasn’t so fruitful. I tried to tap on recurring issues that were bothersome but not intense, and felt like I wasn’t making any headway. Using guidance from Ortner, I pressed on and continued to look for the root causes of my stress and the beliefs behind them.

The Tapping Solution is a great resource for anyone studying conscious creation. The precepts are the same: identify limiting beliefs you may hold and either release them or change them into positive beliefs. At the same time, you can learn to let go of emotions, memories and blockages that keep you from feeling healthy, centered and strong.

On the second night of tapping, I began to develop a throbbing muscle spasm in the middle of my back. I tried a round of tapping with a general focus on the spasm itself as well as the pain it was causing. After 15 minutes, the pain was still there and the muscle would not relax. So, I tapped on my frustration that tapping wasn’t working and that I’d be stuck with this ailment for quite a while. Again, there was little relief.

Intuitively, I knew that I wasn’t going deep enough. I believed my emotions and thoughts were causing the back pain but I couldn’t seem to connect with the right emotion, belief or memory that was causing the tension. I took a break and let my subconscious play with the thought while I brushed my teeth. That’s when I had my mini “ah ha” moment. The pain had started a few days earlier when I took the dog to the vet.

My first reaction was that the spasm was simply a pulled muscle, caused by lifting the 113 lb. dog into the back of my truck. A pesky little voice inside my head said there was more too it, however.

I sat down and tapped again. This time, I focused on my feelings about the dog, noting sadness about him having surgery and a feeling of fear about the diagnosis. I also became conscious of a helpless feeling, not knowing exactly how I was going to keep him well during his recovery.

I consciously and slowly tapped through all of these feelings, checking every few minutes for improvement in my back. On the last round, I tapped on the feeling of guilt. I felt guilty for him not being able to run and play while he healed and wondered if I was giving myself sympathy pain, constricting my own movement in a show of sympathy. I tapped one more round when I felt the shift.

Just like that, the muscle relaxed. I felt the pain go from an “8” to a “0” in just under two minutes. I had found the “in” I was looking for.

It’s not a sweet trip to the candy shop, it’s hard work

Much of Ortner’s book sounds like an infomercial for EFT/tapping. Story after story of successful EFT experiences sounds impressive until you reach a roadblock in your own development. Still, there are a lot of scientific and medical studies to back-up the claims on EFT and thousands of satisfied customers who have used tapping to move through tough issues and physical challenges.

As he explains in the book, tapping is best used consistently and thoroughly. Ortner lays out questions to ask yourself about a myriad of subjects including health, relationships, finances, phobias, trauma and more. This is where the real work begins. After identifying symptoms, emotions, memories and beliefs, you tap on each area until you feel relief.

Sometimes there are great shifts in energy—such as my back relaxing—and sometimes it’s a more subtle energy shift that takes a few days to recognize.

For example, I worked specifically on my neck pain for several days. I attributed the problem to a lack of sleep and poor sleep habits but knew deep down that the culprits were more likely to be emotional congestion and limiting beliefs. Round after round, I tapped on many pressing issues related to work and home life and after a few days, I was able to turn my head in all directions and the pain started to subside.

In the past several days, I’ve started digging deeper into my own psyche, taking notebook in hand to write down my beliefs about different challenges including finances, relationships, work, motivation and finally a resistance to change.

The tapping continues.

Is tapping a cure-all for every problem you encounter? Probably not. But it is an effective tool to have in your self-development arsenal if you’re truly dedicated to bettering your life. And if all else fails, you can put on those patent leather shoes and dance around the living room. Couldn’t hurt, could it?

Resources

For a general introduction to tapping, including a short video on the meridian points, visit Nick Ortner’s website.

In this YouTube video, you can see Nick Ortner work with the queen of self-help, Louise Hay, as she taps on a childhood memory. I was particularly taken with this video as it shows that even the most pioneering self-help guru can still be held back with emotional and physical pain. This is one of those rare therapy moments where you can actually witness someone transforming her life in real time. 

Brad Yates is an EFT/Tapping coach who works with athletes, children and everyday clients to help them overcome emotional and physical challenges. His YouTube channel has a host of videos to get you started on basic tapping scripts.

You can get The Tapping Solution at national booksellers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Hay House

Disclosure:

Although I frequently review books as part of the Hay House Book Nook program, I purchased a copy of The Tapping Solution myself. I was not compensated in any way for this endorsement in my blog.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Allison
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 18:07:21

    Could “emotional congestion” lead to the manifestation of sinus issues? I think it’s likely… Thanks for this, Chris. I have found tapping to be very helpful at times. I think the times it hasn’t worked are related 100% to my effort and diligence in going deep enough, dedicating enough time and effort to actually root out the cause(s). You are right: this isn’t any trip to the candy store; it’s work. But the payoff is freedom. It doesn’t get much better than that.

    Reply

    • Honor Your Spirit
      Apr 08, 2013 @ 22:24:58

      I absolutely think that emotional congestion could pop up in different places, such as sinus issues or perhaps, jaw issues like I’m having today! I was listening to an interview with Nick Ortner today and he reaffirmed how important it is to keep up the practice until you feel relief. Too often (myself included), I think we go a few “rounds” of tapping and give up if there’s no real result. I’ve promised myself to keep up at it for a few more weeks to see if I can break through some barriers.

      Also interesting: A friend of mine made the analogy that the tapping can act like a trance, putting you slightly under as you talk about your issues. The rhythmic tapping and cadence of wording can have a calming effect which may help ease the rest of the emotional issues we face.

      Reply

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