HOW TAPPING WORKS
Tapping therapies generally focus on the same points used in acupuncture and acupressure. According to practitioners, each of these points lie on meridians through which the body’s energy flows. While negative emotions are thought to cause blockages in the flow of energy, tapping on these points is said to clear up such blockages and release the negative feelings.
When practicing tapping therapy, individuals typically target a specific emotion that they wish to release. Focusing on a positive affirmation while tapping on the specified point is thought to enhance emotional healing.
Tapping is also said to help promote recovery from traumatic events, alcoholism, and addiction, as well as improve wellbeing in people struggling with illness or chronic pain.
Working With a Tapping Practitioner
Although tapping can be performed on your own, working with a qualified practitioner is important for learning and understanding tapping techniques.
To understand memory, especially with regards to traumatic memories, it is helpful to understand a few important parts of the brain, most importantly the limbic system. This system has three main players; the hypothalamus that is the home of our survival instincts and regulates the autonomic (what I call the automatic) nervous system, controlling our responses and reactions to stress, ie: the fight, flight and freeze responses, amongst many other tasks like regulating temperature, our need to eat and drink and more. The limbic system includes the hippocampus and the amygdala, both of which are really important. They are key players in the chain of events that take an experience from the present moment to data that is stored in our hard drives that we call the neocortex, which ultimately acts as the CEO of our lives with ultimate executive control (as long as its working properly and no off-line because of stress!).
To understand memory, especially with regards to traumatic memories, it is helpful to understand a few important parts of the brain, most importantly the limbic system. This system has three main players; the hypothalamus that is the home of our survival instincts and regulates the autonomic (what I call the automatic) nervous system, controlling our responses and reactions to stress, ie the fight, flight and freeze responses, amongst many other tasks like regulating temperature, our need to eat and drink and more. The limbic system includes the hippocampus and the amygdala, both of which are really important. They are key players in the chain of events that take an experience from the present moment to data that is stored in our hard drives that we call the neocortex, which ultimately acts as the CEO of our lives with ultimate executive control (as long as its working properly and no off-line because of stress!).
The amygdala’s purpose is to take in sensory information from the environment, most especially regarding emotionally charged experiences and to assist in its storage that can come in handy at a future date. It offers immediate warnings to know whether to batten down the hatches (emotionally and physically), to send immediate messages of engagement instructions as to whether to find safety (by attacking or fleeing) or to continue forward without worry. This is also where it works in tandem with other parts of the brain recalling similar past scenarios to see if
they offer useful information to help better decide what to recommend in this present moment. (Is this starting to make sense as to why when we are tapping on an event and shifting aspects start appearing that throw us or our clients into related but totally other events that resemble the one we were just working on?). Apparently this structure is of critical significance for our survival because from day one, we are born with our amygdala already fully mature. (Did you know that? I didn’t!). So when you walk into a room of new people, you may get a sense, to the extent you can, that your amygdala is on online attuning your eyes, ears, and all your other sense organs to determine if this room is safe so you can relax, engage and learn without being on high alert. Of course a past history of trauma will affect that scenario so that the degree of alertness and sensitivity toward danger is affected. (This is why current research is finding such a high degree of returning veterans who develop PTSD, having had prior childhood experiences of traumatic experiences. Robert Scaer refers to these earlier events traumatic events prior to PTSD as “kindling.”
Meet Your Hippocampus
The amygdala’s key partner is the hippocampus. (While elephants are known as the “memory keepers of the pachyderms,” known to never forget, perhaps the “hippos” are equally facile at remembering. If not, it’s at least good memory jogger to recall what the hippocampus does!). It acts like an “experience date-stamper” recording what, where, when, etc. It processes the data of our experiences, date stamps it, and creates a linear time line that gives events a context, with a sense of time and place for when we recall them at a later date. Recently I learned that unlike the amygdala, it does not mature until we are 2-3 years old.
So when as parents we watch an infant observing and responding emotionally to our facial expressions of googley or sad face, apparently the necessity of remembering the order of such observations is not so critical. The date stamping apparently not yet required for future access. Much speculation has been made that this helps to explain why memories before the age of 3 are much less accessible and may have a very different and more vague quality to them, having no context or date associated with them.
So how does this relate to EFT and especially to trauma? Good question. Guess what happens during stressful experiences that involve rapidly increasing stress, a sense of helplessness, an inability to escape a situation that feels threatening or overwhelming? (Characteristics of a traumatic experience.) Well, the amygdala goes into overdrive, pulling in gigabytes of both external environmental information, as well as internal physical-response information, that it can and process each millisecond. Stress hormones are secreted (adrenaline and noradrenaline are like the short term “sprinters” of stress, while cortisol has the ability to be a long-distance marathon runner, like an energizer bunny that can keep going and going and going!), that do many, many things in the body (from sending blood flow and oxygen to muscles, increasing heart rate and respiration, reducing pain), but most importantly here, they can effectively put a kabosh on the hippocampus!
So during traumatic events, the amygdala is processing all kinds of important information received by our sense organs to be stored, that may not be accurately date stamped. Some
theorize that this may explain why people who suffer from PTSD have difficulty when they are emotionally flooded by some trigger associated with the offending trauma, (ie flashbacks) and are unable to accurately place themselves in the present moment vs. feeling like they are right back in the original trauma.
Other research has studied the brains of people diagnosed with PTSD and found them to have smaller hippocampi (the plural of hippocampus, not hippocampuses). The enduring question about this finding is whether those who have PTSD and thus live with elated stress hormones, have their volume reduced by these stress chemicals or perhaps theirs were of smaller size from the outset, which made them more vulnerable to developing post-traumatic stress disorder. The big picture is that a reduced size or functioning of the hippocampus may very well reduce our ability to cope with life’s stressful events.
So, how does this apply to tapping?
1. Well, when tapping, you can now better understand the supposedly “random” shifting aspects consisting of distantly related memories that just drop in during a tapping round. Remember, that neurons that fire together, wire together!
2. You can now better understand why when someone can become flooded with emotion when recalling a past trauma; an important part of their brain (sounds like bippo…) is working less than optimally, and they can lose track of whether they are in the present or past. This is why it is important to keep their eyes open and work incredibly slowly and gently and help them to stay in the present moment, even purposely helping them with dissociative techniques like Matrix Re imprintingto prevent them from becoming re-traumatized.
3. You can use this understanding to help your client feel more at ease when they struggle with trying to remember elements of their past and they complain that they cannot remember anything, especially when they have a large number of ACES or Adverse Childhood Experiences.
David Feinstein is an EFT expert, in a Medical Harvard Study, fMRI technology it’s shown that Tapping on your Meridian Points decreases arousal in the Amygdala. As you know, whenever your are in a state of ANXIETY, your brain gets stuck in an ON position which means your body is releasing chemicals that make you feel you are in mortal danger.
Tapping works to return your chemical levels to a natural balance through:
1. Mentally recreating the trauma or trigger associated with the anxiety.
2. When you do this you put the amygdala in threat response mode.
3. While in this mode you do Tapping which sends electric signals or acupressure points that decrease the threat response.
In other words you still feel the emotion, but your physiology is no longer affected by it. You create a “New Normal” where your performance is not affected by your emotions.
Tapping is one tool to help you achieve the purpose of life it brings the body into an energy balance which can be measured through electric signals in the brain proof that Tapping works.
Each case is unique and all sessions are client centered!!
For more information or to schedule an appointment call 704-287-1738
Everyday and in everyway I am getting better and better!