by Rachel Harwood
It was a typical summer morning for our family. I am a mom of three children and my eldest daughter was 12 at the time. Life had settled into a slower pace with more time to enjoy each other's company. Time in nature, soaking up the sun. Things were good. We had been blessed with enough to have the things we needed and to also enjoy those extras. No real turmoil in our lives. Simple.
I remember walking downstairs, and finding my daughter rushing towards me in a panic. She was trying to hold back the tears, and you could see the stress that was moving through her body. She couldn't hold herself still. I assumed something terrible had happened. What could have possibly brought her to this state? "What's the matter?" I asked her, placing my hands on her shoulders. "Are you ok?" Of course she wasn't. She responded through her tears with a frantic, "I don't know. I just can't stop crying and my heart is racing." She was finding it hard to breathe with the anxiety overpowering her. She was having a panic attack. Untriggered. Unexplained.
I don't remember hearing about anxiety when I was growing up. Of course, I believe we all had an idea of what anxiety was. That feeling before having to stand up in front of a classroom full of peers and speak. The stress of being in a public place and not seeing a familiar face, finding yourself lost. Those types of feelings.
Yet, no one ever spoke of struggling with anxiety. Is it because they didn't? Was life- that anxiety- really that different then and not like it is today? I really question this. It seems like a great majority of our kids today struggle with anxiety- much like my daughter did- even before our world was turned upside down with the upheaval of normality in recent years.
The truth is, life today is different. Everything is coming at us instantaneously and in full force, whether we want it to or not. We can't live without a device in our hands, earbuds in our ears. The time we once spent truly being, connecting, and enjoying natural things, seem few and far between. Times have changed, and the anxiety and stress that surround us all, is real.
As I stood there with my daughter, I knew she needed something more than a hug and a request to sit and take deep breaths. Instead, I asked her to repeat after me, and do as I do. I began to tap on my forehead. "I'm feeling so much anxiety, and I can't stop crying." Next, I moved my hands to tap on the outside of my eyes as my daughter did too. "Why do I feel this way? I feel scared for no reason at all." Then moving to tap underneath the eyes, I said "My chest is tight and my heart is racing." She repeated as she, too, tapped. Then I used one hand to gently tap on that space above my upper lip, saying "I feel so overwhelmed." She repeated.
We continued on through a series of steps, tapping and expressing how she was feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically at each, repeating the cycle. After 5 mins or more, I remember seeing her body begin to soften, just a little. Her tears had subsided, just a bit. I could see her heart rate slowing. She was still feeling the anxiety, but the panic had broken.
This was my queue to switch the dialog. Now, as we tapped each point with our fingertips, we spoke different words. No longer identifying those negative thoughts and feelings, but this time we spoke about relief. Tapping with our fingers between our eyes, I asked her to repeat, "I feel my body beginning to relax." Moving to the outside of they eyes, we tapped, "It is ok for me to feel at peace." Underneath the eye, we tapped, "I am in control, and there is nothing for me to be afraid of." Tapping under the nose, "I am starting to feel better." And so on, until that started to feel complete. When it did, we ended by tapping on the very top of the head, "Everything is going to be ok. I feel good," and we took a deep cleansing breath, and let it out. You could feel the shift in the energy upon that final exhale.
She was ok.
My daughter had struggled with anxiety for a better part of her childhood. It seemed to get worse as she went through puberty, adding to that already challenging time when you start to realize your own individuality, wanting to fit in and be liked... accepted. Our bodies and hormones just add to the craziness of that experience. For her, it was rough. This wasn't the first panic attack, but after learning this technique, it was the first of the last! We decided that the next time she was experiencing a panic attack, we would do the same. One more panic attack. One more practice where I sat in front of her, and together we tapped as we spoke. First tapping to all the negative feelings, then tapping to things that felt good. That was all she needed.
My daughter will be 19 in August. This was 7 years ago. She still struggles with anxiety, but the panic attacks are no more. Even better, she has a simple tool that she knows works, and that she can use any time she is in need. As a mom, watching your child in pain is heart-wrenching. I believe that tapping was a miracle to help me help my child through that pain. The Tapping brought an end to her panic attacks.
But there really isn't anything miraculous about it. In fact, this "tool" has been known and used for decades! It has been researched, and studies have proven its effectiveness. It has been brought to parts of the world where people have lived through extreme trauma, and given them a way to cope with the most horrific circumstances, and be ok. It's used to help treat stress and anxiety, PTSD, a bad mood, food cravings, and beyond. Why don't we teach this to our children? Why don't more people know about this?
I should explain what exactly Tapping is. Tapping is also known as the Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT for short. It is a powerful tool for alleviating stress, combining the principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. The studies have proven that by tapping on specific pressure points on the body, cortisol levels actually decrease. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. When our bodies are in a state of stress (as they most often are), our immune system is compromised, and we are more prone to disease and illness. Stress is linked to anxiety, weight gain, sleep issues, a lack of motivation, chronic pain, stomach issues, depression. This simple technique has been proven to reduce stress, lower cortisol, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, relieve pain, increase productivity, and so much more! Research shows that Tapping calms the amygdala in the brain, which regulates our nervous system, and reduces stress and anxiety. In less than 10 minutes, you can reduce stress and anxiety by 43%!
I believe it is much like anything in our world today. No one is going to be getting rich off of this technique. You may be able to sell books to teach you how to use it (you can find a great one HERE) or maybe even lead a class or workshop, but that will only go so far. Much like practicing yoga or meditation, this is a practice that doesn't require anything more than understanding how to do it. You don't have to take my word for it. Try it for yourself!
Below, you will see outlined the specific Tapping points you will use. In your own study of EFT, you might find additional tapping points can be used, and sometimes even fewer than those shown here. This is one method, based on the teachings that I have used by Nick Ortner through The Tapping Solution, which I found to be a great resource. I suggest you explore what points feel the best for you, but this is a great place to start.
The Tapping Points
Eyebrow Point (EB)
Where the eyebrows begin, closest to the bridge of the nose.
Side of Eye (SE)
On the bone directly along the outside of either eye.
Under Eye (UE)
On the bone directly under either eye.
Under Nose (UN)
The area directly beneath the nose and above the upper lip.
Chin Point (CP)
This is the area just below your bottom lip and above the chin, right in the crease.
Collarbone Point (CB)
Starting from where your collar bones meet in the center, go down an inch and out an inch on either side.
Under Arm (UA)
On your side, about four inches beneath the armpit.
Top of Head (TH)
Directly on the crown of your head.
Check In With Yourself
How are you feeling? Rate yourself on a scale from 1-10, one being great, and 10 being terrible. It is always helpful to know where you are starting.
Your Setup Statement
Begin Tapping on the karate chop point, one hand tapping on the point of the other, while you repeat the setup statement (shown below) three times.
Your setup statement is "Even though I am feeling ____________, I completely love and accept myself."
Begin Tapping the Negative
Start tapping with gentle finger tips, starting at the point between your eyebrows, while focusing on how you feel or on the problem, and work your way down through all of the points. You will tap about 5-7 times on each point before moving onto the next.
By doing this, you send a calming signal to your brain, allowing you to think of the problem without feeling stress in your body.
Transition to Positive Tapping
After going through the points several times, you may begin to notice a bit of a shift. Your negative feelings begin to lessen. This is when you want to move to more empowering thoughts. The same way you need to weed a garden before you plant seeds, you have to release the intensity of what you're feeling before more empowering thoughts can take root.
From here, you continue to tap on each point 5-7 times, only now you are stating positive things. We are retraining the body's emotional response, so speak those things you want to feel and believe to be true.
Do this until it feels complete. End with tapping the top of your head, then take a cleansing deep breath, and exhale.
Check In With Yourself
Now how do you feel? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the concern that you chose to tap away? Do you notice a difference? Perhaps even a big difference?
I found it helpful to see someone using the technique before I had a good understanding of it for myself. Because of that, I am including a video to demonstrate the process.
In my experience, this practice can benefit your mood and well-being even on a good day. It has helped me navigate through some of my greatest challenges. I normally spend no more than 10 minutes each time I practice. It is a tool that I share with my friends, family, as well as my clients. I believe in it, and wish that every person had this tool in their back pocket for those times when they need it the most. Give it a try! Let me know if you do! Tell me what you think!
Thank you taking the time to hear my story, and to, perhaps, learn something new.