A beginner’s guide to EFT tapping
This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Happiful
It’s well-known that positive affirmations can empower us, and make us feel good, but have you ever said them while tapping on certain points around your body? It might sound unusual, but this is the premise of the emotional freedom technique – EFT, also known as tapping, a holistic wellness practice that can help with relaxation and stopping negative thoughts.
Incorporating elements of acupressure, energy medicine and neuro-linguistic programming, EFT works to release blocked energy in the body. It’s thought that the physical action of tapping calms the nervous system by interrupting our fight-or-flight response and increasing our endorphins. By saying positive affirmations as we do this, we can stimulate our energy channels and ‘neutralise’ emotional blocks.
“By tapping on the meridian points around the body we send calming signals to the amygdala, which activates the stress response in the brain,” explains Nicola Bard, a counsellor and EFT practitioner. “These calming signals begin to reduce the effects of cortisol, which produces the physical symptoms of anxiety. These signals help the brain to make us feel safe, more in control, and grounded.”
What are EFT’s benefits?
EFT requires little effort in exchange for immediate benefits – and, once you understand the basics, you can use it whenever and wherever.
“Life can be tough, full of uncertainty and worries. By tapping regularly, you’ll be in a better position to harness your anxious thoughts, stay grounded, and respond calmly and rationally to whatever comes your way,” says Nicola.
How to get started with EFT
Firstly, get familiar with the key tapping points:
- Top of the head
- Side of the eye
- Under the eye
- Under the nose
- Under the mouth/chin
- Under the arm
- Side of the hand
Typically, you’ll tap each point between five and seven times. The order doesn’t matter, but going from top to bottom can help you remember each one.
“Put one hand on your belly, and the other on your heart centre. Take a moment to connect with your body, and focus on your breath. Tune-in to any anxious feelings, and notice where in your body you feel that sensation – it might be butterflies in your belly, or tightness in your chest.
“Rate the intensity of that feeling on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is nothing at all, and 10 is the worst it’s ever felt. Now we can set our intention to gently challenge these feelings of anxiety.” Work through the points, reading the affirmations aloud. You can treat this routine as a template, and alter the affirmations to suit your needs – do whatever works for you.
Side of hand: even though I’m holding on to all this anxiety, all this uncertainty and worry, and I feel it in the pit of my stomach and in my chest, I allow and accept these feelings and I know I’m not alone.
Even though I feel anxious because so many things seem uncertain and out of control right now, I allow and accept these feelings. I honour my body for trying to protect me from danger.
I’m not always going to feel this way, I just feel this way right now. I set my intention to gently let that go and to begin to relax.
Top of head: all of these anxious thoughts.
Eyebrow: I can feel them in my chest.
Side of eye: but I choose to gently challenge my belief that there is danger out there.
Under eye: I understand it limits me and keeps me stuck.
Under nose: I want my life to return to normal.
Under mouth: I choose to take back control.
Collarbone: right here, right now, I know I’m safe.
Under arm: and I allow my body to relax.
Top of head: I acknowledge how hard things have been.
Eyebrow: but I choose to take back control right now.
Side of eye: I choose to call on my courage.
Under eye: I choose to release all my old fears.
Under nose: I’m open to trusting myself and trusting in life.
Under mouth: right here, right now, I know I’m safe.
Collarbone: I choose to feel grounded and calm.
Under arm: right now this is enough, I’ll figure it out as I go along.
Top of head: once more I honour my body for keeping me safe, but I can take it from here. I’m doing well, and I’m proud of myself.
Once you’ve completed this sequence, Nicola invites you to take a moment for reflection. “Gently stop tapping, take a breath in, and let it go,” she says. “Tune-in to see how you feel. Check-in on that feeling of stress or anxiety, and notice where it is on the scale now.” Usually, this exercise helps people get an instant sense of relief.
So, whether you practise EFT regularly, or keep it in mind for particularly overwhelming moments, tapping can offer a welcome sense of calm.