What Is EFT Tapping?
Exploring this type of psychological acupressure
Acupressure is not all that uncommon within wellness routines today. The ancient traditional Chinese medicine practice dates back centuries. This practice follows the body’s meridian, applying physical pressure to–or in the case of acupuncture, placing needles on–acupoints on the body to free up the energy that may be blocked. Today, similar practices are being explored as methods of treating symptoms of anxiety and depression. By rē•spinning these traditional techniques, we can bring harmony to our mental and emotional wellness.
What is EFT tapping?
Let’s start with what EFT stands for. The emotional freedom technique, EFT for short, may also be just tapping. Jen Miller, an EFT tapping practitioner, likens the experience to an active or moving meditation. The practice consists of physically tapping across acupressure points on the body. Simultaneously, we verbally acknowledge the uncomfortable or stressful feelings we may be experiencing.
By combining verbal and physical actions, Miller explains, “The practice helps to regulate the nervous system and bring the body, mind, and soul back into balance. As the name suggests, the goal with EFT is to free unprocessed emotions that may be stuck in the body and to reduce the emotional valence of stressful or uncomfortable experiences.”
EFT has its roots in two different modalities, Miller explains. Traditional Chinese medicine and psychology. EFT and acupressure have similar roots centered around stimulating our meridian points. Acupressure solely focuses on the physical act of applying pressure to these areas of our body. On the other hand, EFT incorporates the tapping of these points coupled with the verbal acknowledgment of what we may be going through emotionally. Its origins are rooted in psychology.
The benefits of EFT
Amid tumultuous times along with the ever-present array of emotions we may experience regularly, it may feel necessary at times to rē-store our energy balance and relieve these negative feelings that may linger. With feelings of anxiety, depression, and even PTSD affecting millions across the country, studies have shown efficacy through EFT. One reason why EFT can be so beneficial is the specific acupressure points you hone in on, tied to our body’s major energy meridians. Miller explains, “When we tap these points, we are rebalancing our energy pathways, allowing them to function and flow optimally.”
Then comes the psychological element that ties in the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that we may be holding onto that clog up our body’s energy pathways. Miller adds, “Verbally acknowledging your stressful thoughts or experiences while at the same time tapping through the points tells the body that you are safe, putting you into a parasympathetic nervous system state, commonly known as ‘rest and digest,’ and begins to reduce the emotional intensity of those feelings, thoughts, and experiences.”
rē•framing EFT for our mental, physical, and spiritual health
Our mind, body, and spirit can yield positive results from practicing EFT in our regular routines. However, stress is, unfortunately, omnipresent in our lives, not only with personal happenings but also based on the current events that cycle through society to add additional pressure to our shoulders. Miller notes that this constant feeling of stress that simmers in the pit of our stomach can overwhelm our nervous systems and cause us to become dysregulated.
“This can lead to a myriad of other imbalances for us, whether mental, emotional, physical or spiritual,” she says. “Many of the benefits of EFT stem from its ability to regulate the nervous system by bringing the body into a parasympathetic state. In this state, we have full access to the internal resources of our minds. Specifically, the emotional centers as well as those responsible for logical reasoning and decision making. This allows us to feel emotionally balanced, resilient, and clear in our thinking.”
By coupling the physical nature of tapping with speaking aloud about our emotional ailments, we can begin to reduce the emotional intensity of what we’re experiencing. Miller explains this act is key: “This is hugely beneficial in the beginning to retrain old thought patterns and release limiting beliefs that often bring us distress and hold us back in life. With this, we can experience a true sense of self-worth and confidence, and an elevation of our spirit.”
Through a physical lens, when we are brought back into the parasympathetic (resting) state, our other bodily systems return to harmony and normal function. This can include our digestive, immune, and endocrine systems.
“With that, we may experience a reduction in the intensity of any physical symptoms or uncomfortable sensations,” she says. “When it comes to physical symptoms, we often attach a negative meaning to them which can at times exacerbate or further intensify them, so by reducing the emotional intensity of our experience through EFT; we can in turn help relieve physical symptoms.”
Integrating practices like EFT into our lifestyles allow us to self-regulate and calm our nervous system down, in addition to moving through the emotions or negative thought patterns that don’t serve us any longer. Miller emphasizes the power one can have at their fingertips (no pun intended) to create lasting change in your mind, body, and spirit.
“I believe that by calming the nervous system and processing our emotions with EFT, we naturally shift into alignment with our highest selves and become magnetic to all our dreams and desires!” she says.
How to practice EFT?
Because EFT can be a tool that we use to self-regulate and self-soothe, Miller believes in the power of practicing on oneself to administer it on your own time and truly integrate EFT into your lifestyle choices.
“As you begin to practice on yourself, you can get more and more specific with your verbal statements, describing all of the unique aspects of what you are experiencing,” she explains. “This is incredibly beneficial because the more we acknowledge all of the small nuances and details to how we’re feeling, the greater release and shift we will experience.”
When beginning to integrate EFT into your self-care and wellness routines, Miller suggests the following:
- Follow a guided EFT meditation: Miller says this is a great option to start for “those who want to feel held and supported by a practitioner as they practice, or those who simply resonate best with a guided practice.”
- Self-guided meditation: After you become more familiar and comfortable with EFT, Miller suggests practicing on oneself without a guide “by simply tapping through the points and verbalizing all of the stressful or uncomfortable aspects of how they are feeling, eventually moving towards more positive, affirming statements once they feel a release from the uncomfortable.”
- Ad-hoc tapping: Even if you aren’t going through a full-guided meditation, EFT can also be administered on a one-off basis. Miller suggests, “By picking one point and tapping there for a few seconds, you can find relief in a stressful situation or moment.” She recommends the collarbone and the Gamut point in our hand to help calm the mind and body.
Miller emphasizes the importance of regular and consistent tapping to allow yourself to go deeper and thus experience more of a release. She explains, “By consistently bringing the body back into a regulated state and releasing stuck emotions and thought patterns that don’t serve us, we will elicit long-lasting change in our nervous systems and, therefore, our lives.”