Holistic Health Self Care at Your Fingertips
A wish worthy of the proverbial genie that grants three favors might include a magic healing wand that can cure anything. No pain! No disease! No suffering! The greatest scourge of being human would be conquered. Yet, on the other hand, who could imagine what demons this reversal of nature might unleash? How would we die?
While no such magic healing treatment exists that we know of today, it is clear that seemingly miraculous healings and remissions occur daily in hospitals, homes and for as long as humans have recorded their medical history. We might even question, “Do we really know how any healing occurs at all?” The process of healing is a mystery. Doctors refer to statistics and research data in prescribing treatments, but have no explanations about why one person is cured and another is not using the same scientifically verified method. Nor can they control when a patient flat-lines on their monitors and machines, despite their best knowledge and heroic efforts.
One reason may lie in the invisible energy system of the body that many ancient civilizations recognized thousands of years ago to be responsible for the maintenance of our health. Chinese acupuncture is among the oldest of these energy healing medicines, based on a system of over 360 acupuncture points distributed over a network of energy meridians running throughout the body. These ancient healers recognized that stimulating specific points on the skin through tapping, massaging, holding, heat or the insertion of needles along the meridians corrected energy imbalances, blockages and leaks, and directly affected a patient’s health.
While Western medicine has been reluctant to incorporate the wisdom and success of these proven medical systems into their own body of scientific knowledge, technology is finally catching up to be able to measure some of these more invisible energy connections through brain scans, MRIs, and other advanced equipment. Modern medicine can measure these “acupoints” on the skin as having a significantly lower electrical resistance than other areas of the skin, and detect the sending of signals directly to areas of the brain associated with pain, pleasure and other functions when these points are stimulated. Gradually, a clearer connection is emerging between the profound electrical nature of our bodies and the energetic impulses that create and maintain conditions of health and disease in our bodies.
An Ancient Lineage
Chinese qigong practitioners from 4,000 years ago recorded the first uses of tapping with fingertips on the endpoints of energy meridians to quickly reset the energetic flow of the body. Many of these points are located on the face, hands and torso, and are effective in treating both physical and emotional distress. Requiring just a few minutes to perform, these self care treatments provide quick and effective first aid for symptoms of all kind.
From this ancient lineage of healing wisdom, numerous self-healing techniques have emerged in the new field of Energy Psychology that utilize tapping for relief from debilitating physical pain, lifelong phobias and emotional disturbances. Like the mystery of healing energy itself, these tapping techniques work as one-minute miracles for some people, while providing no noticeable relief for others. However, the thousands of testimonials that exist on the seemingly permanent and miraculous cures through tapping are impressive.
In the early 1980’s, Dr. Roger Callahan developed a tapping-based healing system called Thought Field Therapy (TFT), blending the ancient energy meridian knowledge with ideas in modern psychology. Callahan discovered that chronic or deeply embedded disturbing thoughts — conscious or unconscious — can create disruptions in our energy field that can produce physical or emotional symptoms. By interrupting the connection between the thought and the energy signal it sends to the brain causing pain or distress, the energy disturbance is cleared, and the symptom can be relieved. Through trials with hundreds of patients, Callahan discovered that tapping specific sequences of energy meridian endpoints along with inserting new thoughts into the conscious mind brought about permanent relief from even the most stubborn conditions and ailments. He recorded much detailed information about diagnosing conditions and their appropriate tapping corrections in several books on the subject.
Callahan’s work spawned many new tapping techniques, each with its own unique twist in how and where to tap, and the process of reprogramming the brain with new thoughts to create new energy connections. Among them, Gary Craig is recognized as the founder of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which streamlined Callahan’s TFT process down to a basic tapping routine that could effectively address any condition. Craig’s basic premise is that a troubling thought or memory leads to an energy disturbance in the body, which leads to a self-defeating emotional response and its corresponding physical or psychological distress. By eliminating the energy disturbance in the body, the emotional and physical problems are resolved with it.
According to Craig, “Einstein discovered decades ago that physical matter (including the human body) is made of energy. Thus, even though the human body may appear to be solid, its foundation is energetic at its core. This simple fact is one of the most universally agreed upon findings in the scientific world, but, to date, it has not been well integrated into Western healing procedures.” When describing how EFT works, Craig uses the analogy of a circuit breaker in your kitchen. Once the circuit has been over-powered, you cannot turn the lights on or get the refrigerator to cool until the circuit breaker has been reset. EFT resets the circuits in a person’s body and mind.
Since the mid-90’s, Craig has documented hundreds of “one-minute wonder” cures for physical symptoms, trauma, stress, phobias, depression and more, and has further researched and refined his system by outlining specific procedures to be used for more persistent symptoms, with or without professional help. He offers a 79-page manual that can be downloaded free at http://www.emofree.com describing all the EFT basics and many detailed variations he has developed through the years.
How it Works
The basic tapping procedure introduced by Gary Craig as EFT and modified by many others, involves light tapping five to ten times on each of the tapping spots, using one to four fingertips. The tapping can be done with one or both hands on one or both sides of the body. (See diagrams of tapping spots below.)
Begin by identifying the symptom you wish to address — for example, your anxiety about an upcoming meeting, weight you wish to lose, or a headache that won’t go away. EFT starts with a set-up procedure by tapping the fingers of one hand against the “karate chop point” of the other hand. The karate chop point is the side of the hand from wrist to little finger, the area that would strike a board if you were to use a karate movement. While tapping the point with the fingers of your other hand, repeat a self-acceptance phrase — preferably out loud — such as: “Even though I am anxious about this meeting, I totally and completely love and accept myself. Even though I am anxious about this meeting, I totally and completely love and accept myself. Even though I am anxious about this meeting, I totally and completely love and accept myself.” The repetition of the set-up phrase as you tap describes the problem and helps remind your system about the problem you are working on. Adjust the phrase as necessary for your individual case. For pain, say, “Even though my head aches, I totally and completely love and accept myself.” For weight loss, “Even though I carry 50 pounds of extra weight on my body, I totally and completely love and accept myself.”
Now that you have completed the set-up for your tapping session, follow the diagram below through all the face and upper torso points. Start at the inside of the eyebrow and repeat your self-acceptance phrase, or a shortened simple version such as, “The anxiety,” while tapping this point several times. Now move to the side of the eyes, tap, and repeat the reminder phrase. Keep repeating the entire self-acceptance phrase or shortened reminder phrase as you tap just below the eye, on the upper lip just below the nose, on the chin just below the lower lip, on the collarbone, and on either side of the body a few inches below the armpit.
Beyond the face, tapping techniques vary in the inclusion of other points, including ones on the hands and fingers, as well as a point called “the sore spot”, the “pledge spot” or the “chest spot.” It is located approximately where you would place your hand when saying the Pledge of Allegiance and can be located on either side of the chest. Some techniques use the pledge spot as an alternate set-up point at the beginning of the tapping, in place of the karate chop point, while some techniques use tapping on the crown of the head for this set-up.
The wide variety of techniques offered in the energy psychology field speaks to the uniqueness of individual human energy systems. According to Roberta Temes, Ph.D., author of The Tapping Cure (Marlowe and Company, 2006), and a proponent of a very eclectic tapping style, “You’ll soon discover that certain spots — and there’s no way to predict which ones they’ll be — will work better for you than others….You may need more taps for more seconds, while someone else may need fewer taps for just a couple of seconds. You might find that certain tapping spots need to be tapped more times than others. You might use one hand or both to tap on one side of the body, or both sides at the same time. You will know when tapping helps.”
Temes’ book is particularly helpful in offering tips and “hot spots” that encourage regular use of tapping techniques in everyday life, somewhat like emotional first aid or a security blanket. For instance, she advises a quick anti-stress cure is to say what is bothering you while rubbing your pledge spot with your knuckles. End your sentence by adding, “I’m okay.” Temes also notes that many nervous habits such as nail biting, hand wringing, ring twisting or fingering necklaces around the collarbone area may all be intuitive forms of self-soothing connected to these tapping locations.
Like all forms of healing and therapy, it is often advisable to seek out a professional to provide guidance about how to use any healing tool in the initial stages of learning, or at points where you feel stuck. Obstacles to success in the form of unconscious beliefs may require an objective perspective to unravel.
According to Arlington, MA EFT practitioner Linyi Hsing, psychological reversal (PR), identified by Dr. Roger Callahan, refers to an unconscious state of mind powered by a set of deep-seated negative beliefs linked to certain areas in our lives where we feel stuck. Some examples of the negative beliefs are: ‘It's not possible to get over this problem.' ‘I don't deserve to get over this problem.' ‘I will lose my identity if I get over this problem.'
"These kinds of thoughts cause a reversal of our body's electrical system, blocking any attempts to heal. In its normal state, our body's electrical field is aligned with a "+" charge on the top of the head, "–" charge on the bottom of the feet. Psychological reversal makes it literally impossible for a person to take in any positive interventions because her/his energy flow is running the opposite direction. The set-up phase of EFT work — tapping on the karate chop point while saying the self-acceptance phrase — allows for successful correction of PR that shifts the body's electrical system so that there is a new receptivity to healing. It's done at the beginning of your tapping session."
In situations where PR is persistent, Hsing suggest another correction method developed by Devi Nambudripad, founder of the NAET method. It is done by pressing firmly on the spot between the nose and upper lip and two fingers. At the same time, use the other hand to cup the base of the skull, and hold this position for a few minutes.
Emotional First Aid
In addition to being responsible for many one-minute-wonders of spontaneous healing of physical symptoms, pain, phobias, addictions and long-standing emotional disturbance, tapping techniques also act as an effective self-healing tool for ongoing health maintenance and emergencies. In her book, Roberta Temes writes, "Tapping seems to quickly and permanently separate a particular memory from its negative feeling. After tapping, you are capable of thinking about or talking about a previously unbearable memory without having an emotional reaction….Tapping eradicates the emotional pain of trauma, and permits calmness in situations that previously caused fear or panic."
Hsing agrees. "EFT stands out as a powerful self-help tool — flexible, easy to learn and use, and especially great as emotional first aid. For me, it works better than breathing, visualization, finger holds and many other techniques I've tried. These days I like to use tapping to help me open my heart wider and have more compassion. I tap on the points and say, "I send compassion to myself…the body, the cells, all of the suffering — mine and the world's…Tapping involves the body and mind in such a simple way by moving the energy in the body and opening the mind to self-acceptance and positive changes. So one round of tapping is doing a lot all at once, in less than a minute's time in most cases. Relief can be just a few taps away."
Carol Bedrosian is the publisher and editor of Spirit of Change and a daily practitioner of holistic health self care.