I know what you’re thinking. Those Thinking Moms are at it again. Emotional Freedom Technique? What the heck is that? What kind of nutty alternative hocus pocus are we selling now? Trust me, when I first heard about EFT 3 years ago, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous–until it literally saved my life.
Three years ago I was suffering from horrible and debilitating panic attacks. The anxiety and fear had gotten so bad that I was starting to develop agoraphobia because I didn’t want to risk having a panic attack in public, especially if it were just me with my kids. It was at the point where I was afraid of even being alone in my own house. If I felt that little bit of anxiety starting, I would call my husband (usually a few times a day) while he was at work, just needing to hear his voice to comfort me and talk me down before the swelling anxiety turned into an all-out panic attack. I woke up one particular evening, after having fallen asleep on the couch watching television, in a cold sweat. My heart was racing and I couldn’t breathe. Luckily my husband was with me, but this time I wasn’t able to talk myself down. I started hyperventilating and my hands and feet started to get that tingly sensation and then go numb. Suffice to say, this did nothing to help and I thought I was having a heart attack for sure and I would fall over dead right there. The panic attack got worse and worse until finally I passed out for a minute—and woke up with the paramedics at my house.
There I was, PJs on, looking like the Bride of Frankenstein, with a group of paramedics around me. It was quite embarrassing. Especially with Mr. Joe Paramedic giving me oxygen and condescendingly telling me nothing was wrong, just a little anxiety. “All you need to do is reduce your stress levels,” he told me. Ok, I’ll get right on that buddy (!). I told him my then 6 year-old autistic son had started having seizures that year and had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the year before. I was swimming in speech therapy, physical therapy, OT, ABA and GF/CF/SF food prep. Not to mention administering seizure medication, testing blood glucose levels and giving insulin shots. Sorry, dude, but a hot bath and a glass of wine were not making me feel better anytime soon.
That episode was a pretty big wake up call for me that I needed to do something. Panic and anxiety were literally ruling my life. Out of desperation I called my doctor. He felt my anxiety levels were too high and I needed to be in better mental condition to take care of my son. He recommended the anti-anxiety medication, Ativan. I filled the prescription, but left the full bottle in the medicine cabinet. I can beat this, I thought. I’m a strong person. I’m not going to let this anxiety take over my life. I cut out caffeine. I started meditating and deep breathing. In my mind I was winning, but in reality I was always teetering on that next swelling of anxiety that would overtake me and blow up into full panic mode.
After countless frantic phone calls to my husband to come home from work to deal with my anxiety, and the new development of insomnia every night with deep breathing through my open bedroom window to calm myself down, he urged me (begged was more like it) to try the Ativan. I cut one pill in half and took it. It was the strangest feeling. This calm feeling just came over me and I was able to relax in my own skin for a few hours. The Ativan was giving me somewhat of a life back, but it was a double-edgedsword. Ativan is a narcotic and I didn’t want to develop a dependency on it. I knew there had to be something out there that would help me and I wouldn’t have to be handcuffed to anti-anxiety meds for the rest of my life.
As fate would have it, my mother-in-law worked with someone who had been in a similar situation with anxiety and panic disorder. She gave her some information to give to me on Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. I read through it and thought, maybe I’ll give it a try when the next panic attack strikes. I put the printouts back in the nice manila envelope she gave to me and set it on a shelf next to my computer, where it sat for 3 months. It amazes me how many times I’ve been a roadblock to my own ability to heal. The Universe was giving me what I needed, and I was too afraid/frazzled/preoccupied/scared to listen. Sometimes I want to go back in time and just shake myself and say “Wake up, silly! Someone just gave you a way out!” Hindsight is 20/20, right?
So what is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)? It’s referred to as “energy psychology.” It’s rooted in the principles of Chinese medicine and focuses on the 14 energy pathways in our body, known as energy meridians. EFT is considered a psychological accupressure, and is based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture—with no needles! Aren’t you happy you won’t have to do this to get the same benefits!
All of our negative emotions, like anxiety, anger, shame, etc are all attributed to disturbances in the body’s energy system. These energy disturbances are linked to memories of painful events and when we think of the memory, the associated energy disturbance gets activated, which then causes the negative, painful emotions. Tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on different points of your body. As you tap, you think about the specific problem and recite a positive affirmation. “This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmations works to clear the short-circuit (the emotional block) from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.” (http://eft.mercola.com/)
Here is a picture of all the tapping points located on your body. It seems really daunting at first, but once you memorize the “Basic Recipe” it becomes second nature.
The first time I tried EFT, it was almost midnight, I was at my computer, and I pulled up this YouTube video for a visual demonstration of how the tapping was done. (I found this guy’s voice to be quite soothing!) I followed along, tapping where he told me to tap, reciting my predetermined affirmation, all the while hoping that this would help and would give me my life back. (And it did!)
And the best part is that once you do it a few times, you start to realize where your blocked energy meridians are because as soon as you tap them, you feel instantly relieved. (For me, that was my collar bone. Huge relief when I tapped that point!) If I know I’m doing something stressful that day, I’ll do the entire 10 points at home before I leave the house. Some days, I’ll focus just on the collar bone. I use the under eye point for stress headaches. The karate chop point is my favorite spot to hit if I’m out in public and want to discreetly reduce my stress without having to tap the top of my head! It’s usually all that’s needed to get me through. If you’re at a social event, find a bathroom and tap away! Once you have the basics down, you can find creative places to escape for a bit and tap on all 10 points if you need to. EFT is portable and it goes with you wherever you are—awesome right?
Although I did feel better pretty quickly, I still needed to tap on a daily basis to get the maximum results. In about 2 weeks, I was able to spread it out and tap every few days or so. The amazing thing was that I was able to be alone in the house again. I was able to go out in public again with my kids and not feel short of breath as soon as we left the house. I was able to ENJOY my life! I didn’t think that was going to be possible anymore. I truly thought I would just have to manage my fear and anxiety with medication for the rest of my life. I’m so thankful for the Universe plopping this wonderful gift in my lap!