That tapping thing
I think one of the most frustrating things about how we as a culture talk about stress is that we constantly emphasize how bad stress is for you, but offer very little in terms of actual effective and easy to use tools to use to reduce our stress and create happier, healthier lives.
Enter: that tapping thing. AKA EFT (emotional freedom technique) or tapping.
I discovered tapping over 5 years ago, and to be honest did not take it seriously. I read a book by Nick Ortner called The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living and I thought the book was incredible. But here's where I got stuck...I didn't actually DO the tapping. I read the theory and science behind it, thought the concept was fascinating. But I didn't make any kind of consistent action on this tool until about 12 months ago.
I'm going to answer questions that I've had about tapping over the years and mix it in with some of my personal experiences too. Then, I'm going to recommend tons of resources for you to get started if you'd like to try it out. The resources I recommend are 100% tested by me, and these are my own (non-sponsored) thoughts!
What is tapping?
"Tapping is based on the combined principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s balance of energy." (The Tapping Solution) Basically, we tap on specific points on our bodies that correlate to energy meridians. While we tap, we talk (mostly out loud) about whatever is going on or whatever situation we want to resolve. This can be called tapping on the "negative" but I've always liked Nick Ortner's explanation that what we are really tapping on is THE TRUTH. If you're feeling stressed, anxious, alone, it doesn't help to pretend like you are not feeling that way. Tapping focuses on OK let's get familiar with where we are right now, calm down the brain's response to that situation, and then install some new beliefs and thoughts about it.
How and why does it work?
The simple answer is tapping takes advantage of the mind-body connection where we can do something that impacts our nervous system and helps it change direction. The latest research shows that tapping works primarily by sending messages to a part of your brain called the amygdala, which is heavily involved in the fight or flight response. It sends a calming message to this part of the brain, and this message helps the brain turn off the fight or flight response. The crazy thing is, when we tap consistently, research shows we can actually train the amygdala to stay calm in situations that would usually cause us immense stress (like an exam, public speaking, etc). This is why consistent tapping can have long term beneficial effects because over time the brain adjusts to these new patterns. I personally have found this to be true in my own life. I feel more relaxed after tapping, but there's no like magic moment where everything is fixed. And then, at a random moment I'll realize months have gone by and I haven't been stressed about that particular topic at all! Tapping is subtle but incredibly powerful.
How did tapping start?
I'll provide resources for more details, but it originated as a methodology to cure phobias. The original practitioner mixed Traditional Chinese Medicine with his understanding of psychology. It was later adapted to a simpler technique and sequence so that it could be used for even more benefit and for much more than just phobias.
What can I use it on? (and how can it be used on so many different things?)
Almost anything you can think of. Now, this is where many people feel skepticism, myself included. How can you apply one technology to almost any problem you have in your life? It can come off as fake and inauthentic. The beauty of tapping is that because it works directly with the fight or flight response, you can use it on anything in your life that may trigger that response. Here's a list of ideas (that is nowhere near a complete list of what you can use it on): you're about to take an exam, you wake up and have a million and one things to do at work that day, you had to make a big unexpected purchase and now you're looking at your bank account, you're trying to eat healthier but the thought of doing so makes you feel like you want to pull your hair out, you got into a fight with a friend and now you can't sleep because you're replaying it over and over again. And, as you can imagine, that list goes on and on. That being said, if you've experienced severe trauma and want to tap on that, you may want to find a professional counselor or therapist and find out if they use tapping (or, if they could support you while doing it).
How and when do I use it?
Like with most habits, tapping works best when done consistently. I usually tap for about 10 minutes every morning, and I tap on whatever is on my mind at that moment. I don't plan it in advance, because I never know how I'll be feeling at any one particular time. I also tap in moments of severe anxiety- which I call SOS tapping. If I'm feeling particularly bad, I will just go somewhere private and tap, sometimes not even saying anything but just doing the sequence. SOS tapping can be incredibly helpful in that moment, but in my personal practice I didn't start seeing the immense benefits until I worked it into my daily routine. I also highly recommend you start tapping with follow along videos so you can get the hang of it and feel more comfortable.
We're coming up on the end of February, and I know there are intentions and aspirations we have for ourselves in 2018. I hope this deep dive into EFT tapping supports you to build the life that you really want this year, and all the years to come. Much love!
The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living, by Nick Ortner
(really, any book by Nick Ortner is incredible but this is a great one to start with)
(an introductory video to tapping) Brad also publishes literally hundreds of follow along tapping videos and he is my favorite for my personal practice
https://www.youtube.com/user/TryItProductions (The Tapping Solution's video channel with follow along videos, live demos, and talks by Nick Ortner)