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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

What Is the Emotional Freedom Technique And Its Benefits?

What Is the Emotional Freedom Technique And Its Benefits?

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a type of psychological acupressure that anyone can practice on themselves. In fact, practicing on yourself is the preferred method, as this technique is not something done by others, in a way that a massage would be, for example.

By tapping specific pressure points on the body, it is believed that negative energies causing pain (whether physical or emotional) are disrupted, and therefore balance is restored to the physical and emotional body.[1]

The Origin of the Emotional Freedom Technique

EFT has close ties to acupuncture, in that it physically touches on specific points on the body, believed to hold epicenters of energy. With acupuncture, these points are picked with acupuncture needles to alleviate pain, tension, and combat illness. Over the years, however, researchers and healers alike have realized that tapping on these pressure points of the body offers similar results to that of acupuncture.

One such psychologist, Roger Callahan, used the idea to treat one of his patients who was deathly afraid of water. Through the course of her many treatments, all of which proved ineffective, Callahan almost accidentally stumbled into the tapping technique when his patient complained about feeling anxious in her stomach at the thought of water. He asked her to tap underneath her eye, knowing that this location had a direct connection to the acupuncture meridian in her stomach.

Unknown to him, he was building the idea that tapping could ease his patient’s anxiety. That’s exactly what happened – after tapping under her eye, the patient experienced a sudden release of stomach sensation, almost immediately.

To make matters even more surprising, the patient’s fear vanished so quickly and profoundly, that she was able to run to the nearest swimming pool and stand on its edge without the deathly anxiety that used to plague her.[2]

Eventually, Callahan coined the tapping technique as Thought Field Therapy (TFT), where the client would tap specific points while thinking of the problem or anxiety they were struggling with.

Many years later, a student of Callahan’s would take this notion, and add to it elements that we see and use in Emotional Freedom Technique today. Gary Craig, a former student of Callahan’s, added to his teacher’s already widely-used TFT tool. By asking clients to tap on specific points in sequence, and repeat a phrase out loud while tapping each one, he essentially became the developer of EFT; but not without years of foundational work laid down by his predecessors.

How Does the Emotional Freedom Technique Work?

The energy centers of the body can best be thought of as meridian points. These are like energy channels connecting the highways of the body, and therefore connecting us to our sensations – which can often be rooted in physical pain and emotional fear. When these negative sensations come up, they disrupt the balance of the body, and we feel off in some way.

By lightly tapping each of these meridian points in sequence, and repeating how we feel and what we’re struggling with, out loud, we cut the chain of negative reactions and sensations from continuing to plague us.

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Whatever we’re dealing with – whether it’s a bad memory, a struggling relationship, a moment of intense fear – we can use tapping to concentrate on accepting and resolving the negative emotion, so that we can allow the body to restore itself to order and balance. [3]

The video below offers an overview of the tapping points, and their significance in the EFT technique.

How to Find the Right Points

It is generally advisable to tap with one hand (it doesn’t matter which), and specifically with your index and middle fingers together.

Tap solidly for approximately 5-7 taps, but not so hard that you hurt or injure yourself. You want to feel the pressure on the meridian points as you tap; this will come naturally with practice.

The following tapping points are done in sequence every time, and are repeated until the tapping session is over (generally until you start to feel better). [4]

Top of the Head

The first point is on the top of your head, tapping the crown of the head. This can be done with either hand, depending on your preference.[5]

    Eyebrows

    Then, move into tapping the very beginning of your eyebrow, where it’s closer to the nose. Again, this can be done with either hand.[6]

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      Side of the Eye

      Move over to the side of your eye (whichever one), and tap on the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.

        Under the Eye

        Then, move under the same eye and tap the bone directly underneath.

          Under the Nose

          Move down slightly to the area between the bottom of your nose and your upper lip, and tap solidly there.

            Chin

            Then, move down to the area between the bottom of your lower lip and the bony part of your chin, and tap solidly there.

              Collar Bone

              From your chin, move down to the U-shaped notch directly below the throat (generally where a man would fix his tie); move over to the collarbone and slightly below, where it’s not on the bone itself. Tap this area solidly with either hand.

              Under the Arm

              From your collarbone, reach down under the arm and solidly tap the area even with the nipple. For women, this is the middle of the bra strap.[7]

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                The Outside of the Hand

                Lastly, tap the outside of the hand, slightly below the pinky finger, on the cushion of the side of the hand.[8]

                  What To Say While You Tap

                  Once you know where and how to tap, it’s time to tune into what you’re struggling with.

                  Bring to mind an issue or an emotion that you’re dealing with, and tune into how this feels, and what it is. The more attuned you are to it, versus simply trying to push it away, the more it can rise to the surface to be processed and worked through with the help of EFT.

                  The typical EFT phrase template is:

                  Even though I have this _______, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”

                  By filling in the blank as to whatever you’re struggling with, repeat this phrase as you tap onto each meridian point.

                  The benefit of saying this phrase is to not only release it from your physical and energetic body by saying it loud, but also by accepting the problem you’re with.

                  For many of us, denial and dismissal of problems and struggles leads to the festering of that problem, until we’re sick and diseased with trying to keep it all in. What EFT does is give that problem an outlet and a recognition, reminding us that we are not defined by our struggles. In the face of them, we still accept ourselves as we are.

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                  Some examples of phrases that you may use are:

                  • Even though I am scared of this test, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
                  • Even though I am scared to be judged, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
                  • Even though I am angry at her, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
                  • Even though I feel this pain in my body, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

                  How long you tap is entirely up to you. For some, 10-15 minutes is an average amount of time spent tapping. Doing it when you wake up first thing in the morning can help you set the tone of the day, and enter your tasks at hand with a little more space and ease. However, when you tap is still generally up to you.

                  When you’re done, simply sit in stillness and notice how you feel – both physically, emotionally, and energetically. You will likely start to notice a bit more rest and relaxation, as well as disconnect from the problem or struggle that you’ve been dealing with.

                  This is the energetic shift of the energy in the meridian points, and the true magic behind the EFT technique. Come back to it in practice whenever you need it.

                  Final Thoughts

                  The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as Tapping, is an alternative and holistic method by which to tap onto meridian points of the body, to restore balance in the wake of negative emotions or physical pain.

                  By giving your problems a voice and an outlet, and by tapping while speaking, you’re cutting off the negative chain of reactions in the body, and bringing yourself back to homeostasis – all with the simple power of a finger tap.

                  Long rooted in the history and power of acupuncture and Eastern medicine, EFT is a tool free to use by anyone, with healing effects proven to be simple and profound.

                  More Calming Techniques

                  Featured photo credit: Noah Silliman via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Healthline: What is EFT Tapping?
                  [2] Thriving Now: History of Tapping (Including EFT)
                  [3] The Tapping Solution Foundation: What is Tapping and How Does it Work?
                  [4] EFT: Basic Steps to your Emotional Freedom
                  [5] Body Wisdom Nutrition: What are the EFT Tapping points?
                  [6] Harper’s Bazaar: A beginner’s guide to Tapping, a self-help tool to help manage anxiety
                  [7] Hopes Holistic Health: Emotional Freedom Techniques
                  [8] Beth Tuttle: EFT Tapping Points

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                  Aleksandra Slijepcevic

                  Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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                  Published on April 9, 2021

                  What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

                  What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

                  Mindfulness has become a popular buzzword in the health and wellness industry. However, few people truly understand what it is. My aim here is to teach you what mindfulness is and how it helps your mental wellness. By the end of this article, you will understand the meaning and benefits of mindfulness. Additionally, you will develop the ability to integrate mindfulness into your daily life.

                  What Is Mindfulness?

                  Mindfulness is approximately 2500-years-old with deep roots in the Eastern world as a spiritual, ethical, and philosophical practice. These roots are intimately connected to the Buddhist practice of vipassana meditation.[1]

                  Mindfulness continues to be practiced as a cultural and spiritual tradition in many parts of the world. For Buddhists, it offers an ethical and moral code of conduct. For many, mindfulness is more than a practice—it is a way of life.[2]

                  However, mindfulness has evolved in the Western world and has become a non-religious practice for wellbeing. The evolution began around 1979 when Jon-Kabat Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).[3] Since then, mindfulness has emerged in the health and wellness industry and continues to evolve.

                  It is important to recognize the distinctions between mindfulness as a clinical practice and mindfulness as a cultural practice. The focus of this article is on the clinical model of mindfulness developed in the West.

                  Many researchers have integrated aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness into clinical psychiatry and psychology. Buddhism has helped to inform many mental health theories and therapies. However, the ethical and moral codes of conduct that drive Buddhist practices are no longer integrated into the mindfulness practices most-often taught in the Western world.[4] Therefore, Western mindfulness is often a non-spiritual practice for mental wellness.

                  Mindfulness aims to cultivate present moment awareness both within the body and the environment.[5] However, awareness is only the first element. Non-judgmental acceptance of the present moment is essential for true mindfulness to occur. Thoughts and feelings are explored without an emphasis on right, wrong, past, or future.

                  The only necessary condition for mindfulness to occur is non-judgmental acceptance and awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. It does not need to be complex even though structured programs exist.

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                  How Mindfulness Helps Your Mental Wellness

                  Along with MBSR, other models have been developed and adapted for use by clinical counselors, psychologists, and therapists. These include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).[6]

                  Structured models of mindfulness allow researchers to study its benefits. Research has uncovered an abundance of benefits including mental, physical, cognitive, and spiritual. The following is not a comprehensive list of all its benefits, but it will begin to uncover how mindfulness helps mental wellness.

                  Benefits on Your Mental Health

                  Practicing mindfulness can have positive impacts on mental health. It has been positively associated with desirable traits, such as:

                  • Autonomy
                  • Agreeableness
                  • Conscientiousness
                  • Competence
                  • Empathy
                  • Optimism

                  Mindfulness helps to improve self-esteem, increase life satisfaction and enhance self-compassion. It is associated with pleasant emotions and mood. Overall, people who practice this appear to be happier and experience more joy in life. Not only does it increase happiness but it may also ward off negativity.

                  Mindfulness helps individuals to let go of negative thoughts and regulate emotions. For example, it may decrease fear, stress, worry, anger, and anxiety. It also helps to reduce rumination, which is a repetition of negative thoughts in the mind.

                  MBSR was originally designed to treat chronic pain. It has since evolved to include the treatment of anxiety and depression. Clinical studies have shown that MBSR is linked with:

                  • Reduced chronic pain and improved quality of life
                  • Decreased risk of relapse in depression
                  • Reduced negative thinking in anxiety disorders
                  • Prevention of major depressive disorders
                  • Reducing substance-use frequency and cravings

                  However, more research is needed before these clinical studies can be generalized to the public. Nevertheless, there is promising evidence to suggest MBSR may be beneficial for mental health.[7]

                  Benefits on Your Cognitive Health

                  Mindfulness has many important benefits for cognitive health as well. In a study of college students, mindfulness increased performance in attention and persistence. Another study found that individuals who practice it have increased cognitive flexibility. A brain scan found increased thickness in areas of the brain related to attention, interception, and sensory processing.[8]

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                  To explain this another way, practicing mindfulness can improve the ability to shift from one task to the next, increase attention span and increase awareness of bodily sensations and the environment. Therefore, it has the potential to literally change your brain for the better.

                  Harvard researchers are also interested in studies of the brain and mindfulness. One researcher studied how brain changes are sustained even when individuals are not engaged in mindfulness. Their research suggests that its benefits extend beyond the moments of mindfulness.[9]

                  Another study found that the benefits of mindfulness training lasted up to five years. In this particular case, individuals participating in mindfulness activities showed increased attention-span. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase problem-solving and decrease mind wandering.[10]

                  What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

                  Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. However, most practices include these elements:

                  • An object to focus awareness on (breath, body, thoughts, sounds)
                  • Awareness of the present moment
                  • Openness to experience whatever comes up
                  • Acceptance that the mind will wander
                  • The intention to return awareness to the object of focus whenever the mind wanders

                  A practice that encompasses these elements is typically called mindfulness meditation. Most mindfulness meditations will be practiced between 5 to 50 minutes, per day.[11]

                  There is truly no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Most mindfulness meditations are done seated with an object of focus related to the breath, body, thoughts, emotions, or sounds. However, daily activities such as walking or eating can be practiced as a form of mindfulness meditation, as long as the aforementioned elements are in place.

                  Four Mindfulness Meditations and Their Benefits

                  Not all forms of mindfulness are created equal. Each practice has unique goals, structure, and benefits. The following four mindfulness meditations are linked with improved mental wellness related to vitality, happiness, and attention.

                  The results come from a study designed to explore the benefits of these four practices. All of these stem from traditional Buddhist practices.[12]

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                  1. Loving-Kindness Meditation

                  Loving-kindness is a form of meditation that focuses on sending love and compassion to others. It may begin with kindness for the self and extend outward towards close family and friends, communities, nations, and the world. Loving-kindness may even involve sending love and compassion towards enemies.

                  The study found that eight-weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of closeness to others. However, it did not reduce negative feelings towards enemies. Additionally, one week of loving-kindness mixed with compassion training increased the amount of positive feelings participants experienced.[13]

                  2. Breathing Meditation

                  Breathing meditation is a practice where the focus remains on the breath. Whenever the mind begins to wander, the attention is brought back to the breath.

                  In many different mindfulness and yoga practices, specific breathing (pranayama) practices are taught. However, for beginners, simple diaphragmatic breathing that focuses on each inhale and exhale is sufficient.

                  The effects of breathing meditation relate to attention. Breathing meditation is linked to changes in the way information is processed. Buddhist monks who practiced breathing meditation were able to process a greater amount of information than monks who practiced compassion meditation.

                  3. Body Scan Meditation

                  A body scan is as simple as it sounds. Attention is brought to each part of the body. Participants can choose to start from the top of the head or the bottom of the feet. It can be helpful to imagine a warmth or a color spreading from one body part to the next as each part begins to relax.

                  When body scan and breathing are combined, there are many benefits. Interoceptive sensitivity is the mind’s ability to focus on bodily cues. It is strengthened by body scanning. Body scanning also helps with attention and focus.[14]

                  4. Observing Thoughts Meditation

                  In observing thoughts meditation, the focus is on the thoughts. This is an opportunity to practice non-judgmental observation. It is also a practice of non-attachment.

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                  Within the study, participants practiced structured observation of thoughts. First, they brought their attention to their thoughts and labeled them within several categories: past, present, future, self, or others. Then, they practiced observing their thoughts without an emotional reaction.[15]

                  The benefits of this practice were robust. First, participants showed great improvement in the ability to observe their thoughts without judgment. Second, the practice greatly reduced rumination. As a result, participants had fewer emotional reactions to their thoughts and developed greater self-awareness around their thinking patterns.

                  In summary, there are many different ways to practice mindfulness meditation. The choice may be determined by the benefits each practice offers. For example, body scanning can increase bodily awareness. Thought-observation can increase self-awareness and decrease rumination. Regardless, every practice may increase positivity, energy, and focus.[16]

                  Considerations Before You Begin Practicing Mindfulness

                  Mindfulness is still a relatively new concept in clinical research. Critics worry that its benefits have been overstated. There is also concern that the Western world has changed it into something most Buddhists would not recognize.[17]

                  Mindfulness is a state of mind that builds self-awareness. As a result, it may force individuals to face difficult emotions, memories, and thoughts. In a study of long-term, intense mindfulness practices, 60% of participants reported at least one negative outcome. Some cases are related to depression, anxiety, and psychosis.[18]

                  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental wellness. Mindfulness offering promising results but there are also risks involved. Working with a therapist may be a great way to start a mindfulness practice while monitoring for risk.

                  Final Thoughts

                  Mindfulness is a powerful practice that has deep roots in Buddhism. It is a practice of present-moment awareness, acceptance of the present moment, and non-judgment of thoughts, emotions, or circumstances.

                  It has many benefits that may increase mental wellness. However, there are also some risks to consider. Overall, you should consider your unique profile before beginning a practice or consider working with a therapist at the start.

                  More About Practicing Mindfulness

                  Featured photo credit: Simon Migaj via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
                  [2] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
                  [3] Greater Good Magazine: What is Mindfulness?
                  [4] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
                  [5] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
                  [6] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
                  [7] NCBI: Mindfulness Meditation and Psychopathology
                  [8] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
                  [9] The Harvard Gazette: When Science Meets Mindfulness
                  [10] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
                  [11] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
                  [12] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
                  [13] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
                  [14] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
                  [15] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
                  [16] Greater Good Magazine: How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation
                  [17] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?
                  [18] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?

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