It sounds weird, but tapping your fingers on specific parts of your body while making powerful, self-affirming statements rewires your brain and helps restore emotional, physical and mental health.
Called emotional freedom techniques (EFT) or "tapping", the process combines ancient Chinese acupressure with modern psychology and is being used to treat everything from anxiety and phobias to chronic pain, addiction and weight loss.
“As you’re tapping, you’re calming your nervous system and deactivating your body’s fight-or-flight response.”
"It's acupuncture without the needles," says Lorna Hollinger, CEO of the Australian Tapping Institute. "What can it be used for? The list is endless. People who have experienced trauma, and people with physical ailments or pain in their body can clear the emotional causes of those ailments by tapping."
Traditional Chinese medicine says life energy, or "qi", flows through electrical circuits in the body called meridians. Painful experiences, and the emotions attached to them, cause disturbances in this energy system.
"Tapping releases emotional issues that are blocking your energy flow," says Hollinger. "You're tapping on the acupuncture points but there is also a psychological aspect. As you're tapping and saying the phrases, you're calming your nervous system and deactivating your body's fight-or-flight response."
Tapping has been around since World War I when it was used to treat shell-shocked soldiers returning from the battlefield. A 2013 clinical trial involving veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder found their symptoms eased by 64 per cent after just six hour-long tapping sessions.
The technique is also proving to be effective for addictions. Dr Peta Stapleton, a senior lecturer at Bond University, studied 120 obese patients who admitted to being powerless over food cravings. All reported their cravings disappeared with tapping.
"It's an easy, practical and safe way to manage body and mind issues," says Hollinger. "While a practitioner can help you work through deep issues, the great thing about tapping is once you know how, you can do it by yourself."
So, how do you start tapping? First, pick a problem. It could be physical pain, stress, cravings, fear, a limiting belief. Rate its intensity level from one to 10, with 10 being the highest, just so you can check for changes in intensity as you go.
Next, compose a "set-up statement". This always starts with "Even though…" and ends with a powerful affirmation. Hollinger explains: "If you're targeting stress, your set-up statement might be, 'Even though I'm feeling really stressed today, I deeply love and accept myself'."
Repeat the set-up statement three times while tapping on the "karate chop point", or the soft edge of your hand just below your pinkie. You can then move on to doing "rounds".
A basic "tapping round" includes the point where the eyebrow meets the nose, the side of the eye near the temple, on the bone under the eye, under the nose, under the mouth, under the collarbone, under the arm, and finally, on top of the head.
As you tap, tune into the issue, saying what it is and all the nuances around it. "We call this truth-telling," says Hollinger. "If you're working with pain, you could say, 'This pain in my body …' as you tap on the side of the eye. Then, after acknowledging the problem, begin to say phrases for a new outcome. "You might say, 'I choose to let this stress go now,' or, 'It's safe to let this stress go,' " says Hollinger.
"The process takes a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it and feel the results, you'll be hooked."
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale November 11.
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