[Takes a big sigh and pauses for 3 full minutes before beginning the next sentence]
I’ve been holding on to a secret weapon for far too long and I’m finally ready to share it with my blog family: Tapping…also known as Emotional Freedom Technique…also known as crazy voodoo by my former self.
I was first introduced to tapping over 6 years ago and, honestly, thought it and the people who taught it were a little…well…out there. Tapping pressure points on your body to help relieve trauma from the body? Say whaaaat? Either way, it didn’t apply to me because I hadn’t been traumatized.
Your body & brain can respond to almost anything as trauma? A birth that didn’t go as planned? A death that took you by surprise? A childhood memory that pops up years later? A hurtful comment that just seems to stick? Any experience that causes a distressing psychological and emotional response?
Well in that case…
Six years ago Micah and I had just run a Tough Mudder in Vermont (aka a 12 mile Death March up a mountain) and were recovering in our hotel room. I began feeling a wave of panic as the memory of the first obstacle kept popping up in my mind- The Arctic Enima (cue dramatic music.)
I jumped into that huge vat of ice oozing with confidence, which very quickly turned into panicked paralysis as my lungs constricted, I clutched barbed wire for dear life, my vision narrowed, all the people disappeared, and I could see Micah’s mouth moving but not hear his voice as he tried to coax/drag me 6 feet under water and under a wall to the other side of the Arctic Enima all while the Titanic soundtrack played in my head and I wondered if this was seriously how I was going to die- on an obstacle course I voluntarily signed up for and wearing an adult diaper.
Every time I tried to fall asleep, I would jolt awake in panic as I envisioned myself stuck in that icy water. That’s when, out of desperation, I tried the tapping protocol (hang on, I’ll get to that!). Within minutes, my body and brain felt relaxed and I was able to sleep. The effect was so noticeable that even my skeptical husband asked what just happened, and thus began our 6 year practice of tapping through trauma.
Tapping can be done before, during, or after an event or experience. It takes all of 15 minutes and can be done whenever and wherever – home, car, public bathroom stall, plane, dressing room, etc (all true stories, here.)
My husband and myself- and now our older children- have used tapping for countless disturbances. In fact, just today my 4 year old was sick and scared he was going to throw up, and I saw my 8 year old teaching him how to tap and saying, “here, this will help your body relax.” To give you the gist, here’s a sampling of issues we’ve tackled:
- combat experiences
- speaking at funerals
- interpersonal relationships that seem stuck
- marital fights that get stuck/ugly/unresolved
- road trips with kids
- crying baby
- fear of jumping in the water
- death & loss
- family gatherings
- panic attacks
- before working on budgets that tend to feel stressful
- before making phone calls to lawyers, bankers, and other professionals that feel intimidating
- before going to bed to alleviate anxiety over ‘how little sleep will I get tonight?!’
- before, during and after shopping in an overwhelming store
- after finally finding a parking space in the city after 30 minutes of stressful searching. Love ya, Philly!
- before a big test
- during pregnancy
- during labor
- after the birth
- before a big conversation
- before sharing this blog post
The list stretches on and on over years and years. In very simplistic terms, tapping helps my body and brain calm down so I can begin to work with God on the underlying fear or hurt. It’s similar to when one of my children comes running in screaming and shaking over something that just happened- a fight, an injury, a scare, a shock. Before I can help them tackle the issue, I have to first help them calm down, sit still, and be ready to listen. Tapping is like that- it helps me calm down, sit still, and get ready to listen. listen to God, to my own thoughts, to the other people involved. It helps me stop reacting compulsively and start responding mindfully; and it also soothes the sting of painful experiences.
Honestly, this was not a topic I had intended on addressing on my blog any time soon. I think I’ve been a bit scared of the reactions and possible judgements. But last weekend tapping worked so powerfully for my family that my husband and I knew it was time to share this beautiful tool. We had taken the kids exploring through the woods at a nearby nature reserve. The paths were so peaceful and we were having a great time.
And then, without warning, the road turned to sloping rock and then trickling water. And then, equally without warning, I fell to my knees in panic. Those sloping, slippery rocks launched me back to where I stood 15 years ago as my dear friend Clint fell to his death on a hiking trip. Though where my husband stood with my 5 children was completely safe, I no longer had a firm grip on reality. I was yelling for him to grab the kids; that they weren’t safe. But I also wasn’t sure where I was or who I was with. I was sweating and crying and my body was shaking. I threw up and wanted to dig myself into the ground. I faintly knew that I was ‘freaking out’, but I couldn’t get control.I’m incredibly blessed to have a husband who understands PTSD and gives great hugs, and that quite literally carried me until I could get home. As we recapped, I discovered I had never tapped about Clint’s death. In all these years I think I assumed the intensity of my feelings had weakened. But that’s the thing about trauma- it’s a chemical reaction and it gets trapped in the body. Time does not necessarily weaken the intensity of those reactions, and it certainly doesn’t heal it. So I sat in my back yard and tapped. And cried. And then sat down to write this post.
There is so much to be found on the internet regarding tapping, but there are a few resources I’d like to point you to that have helped me.
- The Tapping Solution Foundation provides many case studies, testimonies, and the science & research behind tapping. Kinda takes the voodoo outta it 😉
- The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner was surprisingly easy for me to read and understand.
- I also just discovered there’s a podcast, though I’ve yet to check it out!
- There’s also many videos I’ve made use of thanks to Dr. Mercola. These walk you through various topics you may want to address in your own life, from dealing with pain to food addictions; from dealing with a critical inner voice to dealing with holidays! Please note that this tapping technique is slightly different than the one I’m about to show you but is still-I believe- just as effective. There’s wiggle room to discover what works best for you. I personally vacillate between both techniques.
- Lastly, my good friend and co-founder of Karis Fellowships (the place where I first learned about all of this!) has a fantastic demonstration you may like to view. Thanks, Alison, for making this available!
Whew, that was a lot of links! I hope this post offers hope of healing and a willingness to try something new! And to all who have experienced pain and hurt of all kinds, I’m so very sorry for your suffering and I sincerely pray you find your way to healing. I for one am living proof that it does exist!
May God bless our efforts with all the encouragement and support we need.