Tapping 101

What is Tapping?

Tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), is a powerful holistic healing technique that has been proven to effectively resolve a range of issues, including stress, anxiety, phobias, emotional disorders, chronic pain, addiction, weight control, and limiting beliefs, just to name a few. 

Tapping therapy is based on the combined principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s balance of energy.

So How Does It All Work?

Tapping makes full use of the mind-body connection, acknowledging and integrating the concepts that physical pain, disease, and mental wellbeing are intricately connected to our emotional states. 

The body is equipped with an energy system that travels along pathways known as meridians. Tapping on these meridian endpoints helps to stimulate this system, and when verbally or mentally addressing the root causes of distress, the areas of blocked energy are able to release and flow naturally. 

The basic Tapping technique requires you to focus on the negative emotion at hand - a fear, a worry, a bad memory, an unresolved problem, or anything that’s bothering you. While maintaining your mental focus on this issue, you use your fingertips to tap 5-7 times on each of the 9 specific meridian points of the body. 

Tapping on these meridian points in sequence while concentrating on the negative emotions engages both the brain’s limbic system and the body’s energy system, encouraging a sense of safety and resolution. And as the scientific field of epigenetics is proving, when you change your internal environment - your emotions and beliefs - external changes in your mental & physical health will follow. 

In some ways, Tapping is similar to acupuncture. Like Tapping, acupuncture achieves healing through stimulating the body’s meridians and energy flow. However, unlike Tapping, acupuncture involves needles! “No needles” is definitely one of the advantages of Tapping! 

Tapping is simple and painless. It can be learned by anyone, and you can apply it to yourself whenever you want, wherever you are. It can be used with a specific emotional intent towards your own unique life challenges and experiences. Most importantly, Tapping gives you the power to heal yourself, putting control over your destiny back into your own hands.

Is There Scientific Evidence of Tapping’s Effectiveness?

Like many healing arts that draw upon ancient wisdom, Tapping has been met with a fair share of skepticism. Some doctors and psychologists have been quick to dismiss it as “woo woo,” despite the heaping anecdotal evidence from the results of clinical trials, practitioner reports, individual case studies, and those who have used EFT Tapping on their own. 

In recent years, however, there’s been a growing pool of undeniable research proving that Tapping produces real, lasting breakthroughs. It significantly improves, and can even even eliminate, conditions that hospital treatments, medications, and years of psychotherapy often fail to adequately resolve. 

Studies performed around the world, including the prestigious Harvard Medical School, continue to verify these assertions. We’ve collected a quite a few of these research studies for you to review yourself. 

The scientific basis for Tapping therapy revolves around the functions of a specific almond-shaped part of your brain called the amygdala. It is part of the body’s limbic system, the source of emotions and long-term memory. The amygdala is known as the brain’s fear center, from which the “flight or fight” response originates, alerting other parts of the brain that it senses danger. This, in turn, initiates the firing of other brain receptors and the release of specific hormones that allow the body to respond to the perceived danger. 

This process is highly useful when faced with a real survival situation or an actual threat, but can be detrimental when developed into an “irrational fear” such as public speaking or a fear of rejection. 

Tapping has been shown to literally “turn off” the amygdala, disrupting the stress response and allowing the brain synapses to be rewired for a more appropriate emotional response to a given situation.

Basic Tapping Sequence for Anxiety

As discussed, Tapping can be used to resolve a variety of issues – so try it on everything! Here’s the method for how to use it. In this example, we’ll focus on general anxiety. 

Here’s how a basic Tapping sequence works: 

  • Identify the problem on which you want to focus. It can be general anxiety, or it can be a specific situation or issue which causes you to feel anxious.

  • Consider the problem or situation. How do you feel about it right now? Rate the intensity level of your anxiety on a scale of 0 to 10, with zero being the lowest level of anxiety and ten being the highest.

  • Compose a setup statement. Your setup statement should acknowledge the problem you want to deal with, then follow it with an unconditional affirmation of yourself as a person.

    Setup statement examples:
    “Even though I feel this anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
    “Even though I’m anxious about my interview, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
    “Even though I’m feeling this anxiety about my financial situation, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
    “Even though I panic when I think about ______, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
    “Even though I’m worried about how to approach my boss, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
    “Even though I’m having trouble breathing, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

    Get ready to begin Tapping!

  • With four fingers on one hand, begin tapping the Karate Chop point on your other hand. The Karate Chop point is on the outer edge of the hand, on the opposite side from the thumb.

  • Repeat the setup statement three times aloud, while simultaneously tapping the Karate Chop point. Now take a deep breath.

  • Now, tap about 5 to 7 times each on the remaining eight points in the sequence described below. As you tap on each point, repeat a simple reminder phrase, such as “my anxiety” or “my interview” or “my financial situation” to help you mentally focus on your issue.

    Eyebrow Point (EB)
    Where the eyebrows begin, closest to the bridge of the nose.

    Side of Eye (SE)
    On the bone directly along the outside of either eye.

    Under Eye (UE)
    On the bone directly under either eye.

    Under Nose (UN)
    The area directly beneath the nose and above the upper lip.

    Chin Point (CP)
    This is the area just below your bottom lip and above the chin, right in the crease.

    Collarbone Point (CB)
    Starting from where your collar bones meet in the center, go down an inch and out an inch on either side.

    Under Arm (UA)
    On your side, about four inches beneath the armpit.

    Top of Head (TH)
    Directly on the crown of your head.

    And take another deep breath!

  • Now that you’ve completed the sequence, focus on your problem again. How intense is the anxiety now, in comparison to a few minutes ago? Give it a rating on the same 0 to 10 scale. Did you notice a shift?

    If your anxiety level is still higher than 2 or 3, you can do another round of tapping. Keep tapping through the sequence until the anxiety is gone. You can change your setup statement slightly to take into account your efforts to fix the problem or your desire for continued progress.

    “Even though I have some remaining anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
    “Even though I’m still a little worried about this interview, I deeply and completely accept myself.” And so on.

  • Now that you’ve focused on dispelling your immediate anxiety, you can work on instilling some positive feelings in its place. This approach is different from traditional “positive thinking.” You’re not being dishonest with yourself. You’re not trying to obscure the stress and anxiety inside yourself with a veneer of insincere affirmations. Rather, you’ve confronted and dealt with the anxiety and its corresponding negative emotions, offering deep and complete acceptance to both your feelings and yourself.

    After you’ve cleared the emotional dirt away, you can then turn your thoughts and vibrations to the powerful and positive. That’s what makes Tapping so much more effective than the “positive thinking” techniques that many of you have already tried. It’s not just a mental trick. You’re actually changing your body’s biochemistry and energy into a more positive direction.

    Here are some example phrases to guide you:
    “I have faith in my ability to change.”
    “I am joyful about these positive changes.”
    “I am accomplishing so much.”
    “I enjoy the calm and peace that I have.”
    “I love the person that I am.”
    “I am becoming a more relaxed and joyful person.”

    You can use these positive phrases with the same sequence of Tapping points described above.

  • Here are some tips to help you achieve the correct technique.

    You should use a firm but gentle pressure, the same as if you were drumming on the top of your desk or testing a melon for ripeness.

    You can use all four fingers, or just the first two (the index and middle fingers). Four fingers are generally used on wider areas, while just two can be used on sensitive areas, such as around the eyes.

    Tap with your fingertips, not your fingernails.

    You can tap one side of the body or both at the same time. The meridian points are symmetrical on either side of the body.

Five Yoga Poses to Help With Anxiety

Surrender Your Stress

Anxiety can be overwhelming. If you often feel like the stress of daily life is just too much, you are not alone. With the complexity and pace of our modern existence, millions of people struggle with stress and anxiety every day, which can leave you feeling hopeless and powerless. It’s extremely helpful to have some trusted techniques to help calm and centre yourself when you feel like things are out of control. By taking a few minutes out of your day, you can help soothe your mind and relieve anxiety with these basic, yet potent, yoga poses. Even if you just pick one pose and enjoy that for five minutes, it will have a profound effect on your life. A simple, regular yoga practice can support your nervous system to be able to better cope with stress and up your resilience, while also helping you release worry and rediscover inner peace.

Why is Yoga so helpful?

Yoga involves mindfulness, deep breathing and focusing the mind. This is radically helpful when dealing with anxiety. Just the simple practice of conscious breathing makes a massive difference to an anxious physiology, instantly calming the physical responses of the body. Yoga trains the mind and body to be calm so that when you experience a particularly stressful situation, you have the skills to ‘bring yourself back,’ soothe yourself and return to your centre, even in the chaos of high emotion. A yoga practice is supportive of clarity and wisdom. Often we receive the answers to questions we’ve been agonising over or realise that what we’re anxious about will pass. Yoga brings in fresh energy, unblocks the energy system and calms the mind. It is an amazing workout for body, mind and spirit.

Just the simple practice of conscious breathing makes a massive difference.

These easy yoga poses are appropriate for everyone to practice, and will help to alleviate anxiety. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and find a quiet, area to take some time out for yourself. Spend at least 3 to 5 minutes in each posture.

Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a deeply restful and relaxing pose, often taken as a rest pose during more demanding yoga sequences. Kneel on your mat, sitting back on your heels either keeping the knees together, or separating them about as wide as your hips. Exhale and fold forward, bringing your head to the floor, or supporting it with a blanket or cushion and laying your hands alongside your torso with the palms up. Release through the shoulders, relax the body, and focus on the breath. If you have difficulty sitting on your heels in this pose, place a thickly folded blanket between your back thighs and calves. You can also use a bolster or thick cushion, which will be hugged in the child’s pose, making it particularly nurturing.

Child’s pose is a deeply restful and relaxing pose.

Child’s pose is a deeply restful and relaxing pose.

Cat/Cow Pose

The bulk of our nerves run along the spine. When we calm our nervous system, the entire body relaxes. The power of yoga is that it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and calms the fight flight response of the Sympathetic Nervous System. The Cat/Cow pose nourishes the nervous system and instantly relaxes the body, releasing tension trapped in the spinal cord. It is a relaxing and enjoyable pose with wonderful benefits.

To practice the pose, come onto all fours with your hands below the shoulders, fingers spread, and knees below the hips. Synchronising breath and movement, inhale as you lower the belly and draw the shoulders together, opening the chest whilst looking up (Cow pose), then arch the back up towards the ceiling as you exhale, drawing down the head to look at the navel, as you move into the Cat pose. Repeat these movements several times making them fluid and slow; mindfully moving through each vertebrae with your breath, as if you’re in a moving meditation. You can close your eyes to bring your attention more inward. A deeply relaxing and enjoyable sequence.

The Cat/Cow pose nourishes the nervous system and instantly relaxes the body.

The Cat/Cow pose nourishes the nervous system and instantly relaxes the body.

Legs Up the Wall

The ultimate restorative pose, this posture has an unbelievable amount of benefits and will literally put you back together again! If you pick just one pose to practice, let it be this one. Place your mat up against a clear wall with space for you to stretch your legs. Sit on your bottom with the right side of your body pushed against the wall. Swivel up your legs onto the wall as you bring the back onto the floor, keeping the bottom close in to the wall. With the legs straight, relax with your palms, facing them upwards at your sides, and use an eye pillow if that’s comfortable for you, to soothe your mind. Focus on your breath, you can do an equal breathing ratio where you count to five as you slowly breathe in and then count to five again as you exhale. Alternatively, you could do a basic breathing practice of doubling the exhalation; so counting to four as you breathe in then lengthening the exhale to eight counts as you breathe out. Surrender into deep rest while your body enjoys the healing benefits of this pose. It is an antidote to exhaustion, illness and weakened immunity, relieves headaches, mild depression, anxiety and insomnia. This pose is a deeply restorative pose for the heart, mind and lymphatic system.

Legs up the wall pose is deeply restorative for the heart, mind and lymphatic system.

Legs up the wall pose is deeply restorative for the heart, mind and lymphatic system.

Forward Bends

In yoga, forward bends are soothing, calming and supportive of deep rest and sleep. The inward nature of forward bends also encourages introspectiveness and stillness. Most people find forward bends quite challenging, due to tight hips and hamstrings, so it is important to do a restorative, supported forward bend so that you don’t strain yourself in the pose. Choose either a standing forward bend or a seated forward fold. It doesn’t matter how far you bend, it’s about releasing through the spine and the inverted nature of the pose, where your head is below your heart. Always ensure you are not straining any part of your body. You want a nice opening and stretch without pain or strain.

Standing Forward Bends:

With your feet a hips width apart, fold froward from the hips, keeping your alignment. Lengthen the front of the body as you fold, keeping the neck and jaw relaxed. Keep the knees soft until you’re more flexible and can straighten the legs. Use props if you need to, such as a bolster to rest your arms on. Release through the neck and the head as you remain in the pose for a few minutes. Uncurling, come up slowly, being particularly careful if you suffer from dizziness or low blood pressure.

Seated Forward Bends:

Sit on the mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Extend your arms up above your head and then fold forward over your legs, making sure there is no pain or discomfort. You can either round the back or keep it flat. Use a bolster to support your head and bend your knees if you find this pose challenging. Hold here for a few minutes and then slowly roll back up to sitting again.

Forward bends are soothing, calming and supportive of deep rest.

Forward bends are soothing, calming and supportive of deep rest.

Savasana (Rest Pose)

Lie on your mat on your back, arms at your sides, palms facing upwards, legs slightly apart, feet turning outwards. Ensure that your body is properly aligned and that you feel comfortable. If you have lower back issues, you can use a bolster or folded pillow under your knees. Consciously relax each part of your body, moving up from the feet, legs, hips and so on, just letting go. You can also release tension by first tightening each part of the body, squeezing all your muscles momentarily, and then releasing. Focus on your breath allowing the mind to settle as you come to deep rest. Let your thoughts pass gently as you drop into stillness. Savasana is a lovely pose to practice Yoga Nidra or put on a guided meditation, if you find it difficult to stop your mind racing. Said to be the easiest physical pose but the most difficult yoga pose to master, Savasana, or corpse pose, is where you discover the opportunity to die to life; to surrender completely and to practise letting go. This is hugely beneficial for anxiety, as so often we worry about things that are out of our control. The more we can learn to let go and find acceptance, the easier it is to find equanimity and inner peace. Surrender and enjoy the feeling of deep relaxation, having nothing to do and nowhere to go; just taking time for self care and rest.

Savasana gives you the opportunity to surrender completely and to practise letting go.

Savasana gives you the opportunity to surrender completely and to practise letting go.

These simple yoga poses can be a nourishing gift to yourself. Practising them regularly can grow into a habit which will bear the fruit of a calm mind and body. Establishing ritualsthat fuel our inner peace and increase our capacity to deal with life can make all the difference. We all feel anxious at times, but having the tools to regain control when you’re feeling overwhelmed means that anxiety doesn’t call the shots–you do!

Try This Guided Meditation the Next Time You Feel Overwhelmed with Anxiety

All you need is five minutes.

All you need is five minutes.

We've all been there: Everything's happening at once. Towers of paperwork are piled on your desk. You can't seem to find the time to clean your apartment or do your hair, much less make plans for the upcoming weekend. You feel overwhelmed, and as a result, anxious. Anxiety is a serious thing and comes in many forms—from social anxiety to sleep anxiety—and, at times, it can become unbearable or unmanageable. (And it is certainly not the same thing as healthy stress.)

This is where anxiety disorders come into play. But there is help available, and it is possible to find an anxiety treatment that's right for you. One of those methods? Guided meditation.

"Through meditation, we train the mind to stay in the present moment, to notice an anxious thought as it arises, see it, and let it go," says Megan Jones Bell, Psy.D., chief science officer for Headspace. "What changes here from the typical response to anxiety is that we aren't holding onto these thoughts or reacting to them. We step back from these anxious thoughts and see the bigger picture. This can help us feel more calm, clear, and grounded."

Just 30 minutes of meditation improves symptoms of depression, according to one Johns Hopkins University study. It can also help you get more out of your workout and relieve headaches. But before you sit down to practice, make sure you see a doctor and ask whether it would be best for you to try a guided meditation for anxiety. (You can also ask about these essential oils that help relieve anxiety and stress.)

Once you have the all-clear, know there are specific meditation tactics that are geared toward easing anxiety. Noting is one of them. Like it sounds, this is the practice of simply "noting," or naming (like a mental whisper), what we are feeling or experiencing, then returning to the breath. "Noting helps us to beat the tug-of-war of anxious thoughts," says Jones Bell. "You're changing your relationship with them by getting a bit of distance from them and seeing them as mental events rather than truths. It helps you have a busy mind and still find peacefulness within it."

Another great tool found within guided meditations for anxiety? Zero-ing in on body awareness, says Jones Bell. Breathe in deep as you focus on the feeling of your feet on the floor or your sit bones on a comfortable pillow. This tactic should help you to feel more centered and truly grounded. "Having this safe space to return to is important for those with anxiety," she says. "It lets you have a concrete experience that you can re-access whenever you need it."

These techniques are woven into the guided meditation below, which was created by Headspace's co-founder and meditation expert Andy Puddicombe exclusively for Shape.