Tapping into happiness.
Today I had my first session in Emotional Freedom Techniques and it was wonderful. The practitioner, C, put me at ease straightaway and explained what we were about to do which I found very reassuring and an important part of the process.
She asked me specifically what had brought me there, what my issues were and I told her the usual spiel (it feels like this sometimes) but with a slight modification – that the negative issues I’m talking about I kind of view as past feelings rather than very present emotions. That for me was a sort of breakthrough, talking to a therapist and rather than being very wrapped up in my problems, being sort of distanced from them and even struggling to recall the specifics.
She asked me for some examples, as the process requires the patient to focus on an example in their recent history in which the emotions being treated were running high. I tried to recollect an example but I realised there was a block in my mind which was protecting me from reliving negative past emotions. It was strange – all the things I’d spent so long obsessing about become something from the Neolithic past.
I didn’t feel like I was blocking out my negativity. I just felt like it had already left me. C emphasised though that acceptance of our flaws is an important part of EFT. It’s an important part of the NLP process too of course, as this requires deep knowledge of the self. But it’s not bad thing even to dwell on our bad sides – it’s just an exercise and it won’t make them any more prevalent. She said when you resist your issues they grow and persist. Nothing is unacceptable in the EFT process. Any problem can be addressed.
What it all comes down to, a lot of the time, is the individual’s belief that he is inferior to other people. This is so common and is in fact the foundation of everyone that comes to her. That was reassuring. She said, ‘we would never speak to other people the way we speak to ourselves’.
The EFT treatment involves firstly some deep, meditative breathing, the kind that any meditation book would advise. Breathing in as fully as you can, feeling your belly rise up as it fills with air; exhaling slowly and fully, taking twice as long on the outbreath as the breath in. This is apparently amazing for the physiological system. It slows down all the processes of the mind and body and brings calm.
Next C asked me to relive a traumatic conflict experience, one in which my troublesome emotions such as hurt, rejection, anger, frustration were piqued. I set on one in my mind but had some difficulty holding on to the vividness of the emotion. I was meant to be focussing hard on it, and feeling the anger that I felt at the time, but I kept losing my strand and only managed a 6 out of 10 intensity-wise.
Next, the practitioner started tapping my right hand just around the body-side of the wrist. This is the “setter” and she focussed on this area for a good few minutes. While she tapped, she repeated a kind of mantra with the same beginning and end words every time but interchangeable words between. I repeated after her.
“Even though I have hurt those I love, I completely and deeply love and accept myself”.
“Even though I believe I have messed up, I completely and deeply love and accept myself”.
“Even though I believe I am not a worthwhile person, I completely and deeply love and accept myself”
“Even though I am not always in control of my feelings, I completely and deeply love and accept myself”.
“Even though I fear rejection, I completely and deeply love and accept myself”.
And so on for at least a hundred different variations. She tapped about six different meridians on the chin, below the nose, under the eye, the middle of the forehead, the chest, under the arm and on the wrist. I would like to be able to do this exercise myself at home but will attend five or so more sessions to get the full benefit from a very gifted practitioner before I am sure that I can get the most of it on my own.
At the end of our session, C said I looked lighter and happier. She asked me how I felt. I struggled to find the words; it seemed like a lot of effort to say that I felt clear. Not confused but without thoughts in my head. I felt like I had a factory reset and had to think very hard to regain the powers of speech and movement. Being back on the street in the busy city where I had the treatment felt daunting as a moment of reclimatisation is required before returning to the real world – which is done by rubbing your hands up and down your limbs in and certain rhythm and direction. But still, I felt incredibly light headed, though I have to say the feeling didn’t last long. As soon as I finished I was straight on a bus and attending my next CBT session with D. The one I had waited two weeks for.
EFT is a marvellous experience, made all the more worthwhile and fruitful by being in the hands of a skilled practitioner who communicates effectively. You put yourself and your mental state at the mercy of these strangers, and one that can empathise and instruct without leaving you cold is not to be taken for granted.