This post is an informative guide on what tapping/the emotional freedom technique (EFT) is and how to use it.
April 17, 2021. Updated: June 6, 2022
Table of Contents
- What it is
- When to use it
- How it works
- How it’s done
- Time commitment
- What to expect
- How to get started
- The research
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If you’ve been a part of the mindfulness, personal growth, or spiritual community for a while now, you’ve likely heard of the emotional freedom technique (also known as tapping).
But for those of you who haven’t, and those of you who haven’t tried it yet, here’s a rundown.
WHAT IT IS
It’s an evidence-based psychological acupressure technique used to release trapped emotion that can manifest as stress, anxiety, and other dis-ease in the body, mind, and energy field.
WHEN TO USE IT
Anytime you’re feeling negative emotions like overwhelm, anxiousness, embarrassment, shame, nervousness, or the dreaded mom guilt.
When your mind is looping an upsetting memory or past trauma.
When you’ve identified limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns that may be holding you back.
HOW IT WORKS
You tap on acupressure points (energy meridians) while you speak your truth about the negative emotion or situation.
By speaking and tapping simultaneously, the acupressure stimulation helps the body move into a parasympathetic nervous system response — telling the brain that it’s safe to feel and experience the arising emotions.
In a nutshell, it gives your mind and body the opportunity to release emotions with ease, without the fear and resistance that typically comes along with shadow work. Giving you a sense of calm, control, and clarity.
HOW IT’S DONE
1. Ground yourself (imagine yourself rooting into the earth like a tree) and commit to feeling any sensations that may arise during the exercise.
2. Focus on a negative emotion or issue you’re facing that’s causing discomfort. Rank the intensity of the issue from 1-10.
3. Articulate how you’re feeling in a statement. This core statement should voice the issue while also conveying self-acceptance.
For example, “Even though I feel so overwhelmed as a new mom, I deeply love and accept myself.”
4. Use your fingers to tap seven times (it doesn’t have to be exact) on nine different acupressure points (energy meridians) in your body, while continuously speaking out loud about the negative emotion.
These points are located on your hand, head, face, and chest. (Instructional videos linked below.)
Continue to speak your truth while moving through the acupressure points over and over until you begin to feel relief from the negative emotion.
5. Transition to “but what if…” statements to open up to more positive possibilities. (For example, “but what if I could choose to see this differently?”)
6. Transition to positive statements to anchor that new belief into your mind.
7. When you feel it’s time, stop tapping and rate the intensity of the issue again. This will allow you to measure the effectiveness of the exercise.
Related: How to Use Emotional Triggers for Empowerment & Healing
The time it takes is dependent upon how deeply rooted the emotion is. If it’s already sitting at the surface just ready to purge, it could take as little as five to seven minutes.
But I usually experience an emotional shift after about ten minutes of tapping. At that point, I’m naturally ready to move to positive statements.
I then give myself another five minutes to centre, sit in stillness, and relax.
WHAT TO EXPECT
You may find the response is stronger than you thought it would be. It’s amazing how emotion can flow when it feels safe to experience it.
For me, it’s different than a typical emotional release, because my energetic frequency doesn’t lower. There’s an empowering sense of calm and control.
And every time I’ve completed an EFT exercise, I feel a sense of relief and uplift.
Also, sometimes unexpected insights surface. It’s great to keep a journal close by to jot them down once you’re finished.
But if you don’t feel a shift, before you ditch the technique, try it another couple of times within the same week. Sometimes the ego can block an emotional release (due to fear of the unknown, change, etc.) and it needs some gentle coaxing.
HOW TO GET STARTED
It’s best to begin by watching an instructional video to help you locate the acupressure points and understand the flow of tapping and speaking.
Once you’ve memorized the points and understand the technique, it’s more impactful to use your own dialog and make statements specific to your unique situation.
These are two awesome tapping instructional videos
This video, by the Tapping Solution’s Jessica Ortner, is a beginners guide for EFT, displaying exactly how to do it.
This video, by one of my favourite spiritual thought leaders, Gabrielle Bernstein, is also instructional for beginners and includes a general script for anxiety and stress. You can learn more about Gabrielle and other amazing female spiritual teachers in this post.
And here are some tapping audiobooks
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THE TAPPING RESEARCH
Here are a few links to scientific studies from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health
Guidelines for the Treatment of PTSD Using Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)
And the Tapping Solution’s website offers insight on the research.
EFT is a gentle therapy and is an amazing tool for releasing emotion with ease.
But if you need additional support or an overwhelming emotion surfaces, get in touch with a therapist trained to help you.
And like any healing modality, the only way to learn if it’s for you is to try it out.
You never know, those fifteen minutes of tapping could create an incredible shift physically, mentally, and energetically.
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