A Skeptics Experience with Tapping (guest post)

Today's guest post is by Erin Holt, owner of Erin Holt Health, Holistic Nutritionist

"When I was deep in the trenches of bulimia and anxiety, my mother begged me to try tapping.

While “tapping” may draw up images of Gregory Hines for some people, I knew that it was another name for Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). I knew that it involved tapping on your face and saying things like “I completely love and accept myself”. I knew it helped veterans recover from PTSD. I knew these things because my mom is an EFT practitioner. I also knew there was no way in hell I was doing it.

Despite being in the trenches, I wasn’t willing to do this hippie dippy weirdo shit. I’d rather stew in my own self loathing and desperation than try something as silly as this.

But eventually my mom wore me down. Or maybe my own issues wore me down and I dropped my guard a bit. She referred me out to a colleague and I went to see her, skeptical at best.

I was in her office for a couple of hours. The tears flowed, as did the words. My hands danced across my face while saying things out loud that I’d never said to anyone before. Things that I didn’t even know were in me until they came out of my mouth.

When I left, my anxiety was gone and I felt a sense of peace that I hadn't experienced in a long time. I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t have to. I just knew it worked and I was glad I had given it a shot.

Fast forward 10 years. I’m a yogi and I love the hippie dippy weirdo shit. I am also a nutritionist with my education steeped in science - I need to understand the whys behind things. So I became a functional nutrition student to learn how science backs up the woo woo. The bridge between the two is my most favorite thing of all.

Today I’m going to attempt to explain EFT - or tapping - from a couple different angles. I can’t pretend to understand all the physiology behind how EFT works (this article does a great job), but I can explain certain aspects that pertain to my life & my health, and why I feel it’s a necessary part of the Commit to 90 program.

 

The Woo Woo: Feel the Feelings

I went to a therapist for mild depression when I was 16. When she asked how I felt about certain things, the best I could give her was “good” or “bad”. She told me we wouldn’t be able to work together unless I could give her more, but I truly wasn’t able to articulate my feelings beyond those two words.

Now, 17 years later, I can recognize my feelings. And I feel compelled to speak about them. All of them. Even the big and heavy and scary ones. Yet I’m still wrong.

I learned quickly after becoming a mom that when asked about new motherhood, it’s best to respond with “I just love it, it’s so wonderful. I love my baby. I am complete now. SOOO HAPPY.” The dark, weedy, gritty truth disarms people. They avert their eyes and break conversation.

People don’t really want to be exposed to raw emotion, they don’t know what to do with it. It’s foreign to them since they’re not allowed to experience it for themselves. Turns out my closed-off 16 year old self was better suited to society’s standards of emotion. We’re allowed - and expected - to feel the good feelings, but not the icky ones.

 

When a baby cries, we do everything to hush it.

When a child cries, we tell them to stop.

When a woman cries, we hide it.

When a man cries, well…men don’t cry.

You know what’s worse than feeling a crummy emotion? Feeling like you’re doing something wrong by experiencing that emotion. So we turn it off and desensitize and eat or drink or snort or screw or shop it away.

We run away from the discomfort, when instead we should be running right toward it. The only way through an emotion is through it. The healing doesn’t come from avoidance and detachment. We can’t ignore painful feelings, experiences and memories if we want to change and grow.

EFT pushes you right into the pain, it forces you to acknowledge the feelings.

 

(THE YOGA DOES THIS, TOO.)

Google images of “meditation” or “yoga”. What comes up? Peaceful, blissful, calm, serene photos.

Lies, I say! Lies!

My meditation and yoga is fucking chaotic. There’s often anger and tears and rage and snot. This is the time when ALL THE FEELINGS bubble up to the surface. This is the place where I allow them to. I welcome them, because this is the way out.

Just like yoga, EFT can be kind of a shitshow. Expect that and embrace it. Trust that the calm will come.

Here’s what’s different and great about EFT (and why we have it in ADDITION to the yoga for Commit to 90):

You have someone guiding you through what you’re feeling. 

As trapped emotions/experiences/memories/trauma come up - especially for the first time - it can be terrifying and confusing. It’s not comfortable. You might feel bad or wrong for having these feelings. This is why Cheri will be leading you in Commit to 90.

(Psssst: You might cry during EFT. Did you know you can release catecholamines - stress hormones - through your tears? LET THOSE TEARS FLOW, LET THAT SHIT GO. #science)

 

The Science: Stress is Real.

In my nutrition practice and Fueled+Fit program, I talk a lot about stress. Stress impacts the nutrients you receive from food, stress can turn genes on and off, stress can determine whether your body experiences vitality or disease.

In my opinion, stress mitigation is the MOST important thing we can do for ourselves. Yet it’s the one most overlooked. Ours is a Do More - Go Harder - Keep Up culture and we wear stress and busyness like a badge of honor. We tell ourselves that one day we’ll “work on our stress” but it always takes a backseat to all the other things on our to-do list…because deep down we feel like we should be able to handle the stress.

Your body disagrees. Sorry, but it’s physiology. To quote Method Man’s character in the 1998 movie Belly:

WHAT’S THE SCIENCE, BABY?

The autonomic nervous system is divided into two branches: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

Read the rest of the story on the   ORIGINAL POST

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