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Tapping - How on earth can this really help you build a mindfulness practice?

What if there was a technique that you could practice anywhere, whenever you felt anxious, stressed or panicky? A technique that was simple, that you could do yourself, that could transform your emotional state?

Many people believe Tapping is exactly that. Also known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), this practice involves gently tapping certain pressure points on the body, primarily around the head and face. At the same time, the person focuses on whatever they wish to treat. Tapping can be helpful for people with a wide range of issues, from mental health conditions like anxiety, stress and depression; to physical problems like chronic pain; to challenge around weight, insomnia and addiction.

Ever come across acupuncture, the traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted into specific areas of the body? Well, Tapping is a little bit like acupuncture, but without the needles. It follows a similar logic of ‘pressure points’, specifically sensitive areas where certain thoughts and feelings may be released. Like acupuncture, the areas of the body involved in Tapping relate to the body’s Meridian system. This is also a concept in traditional Chinese medicine and is used in many energy and consciousness practices like yoga. Meridians are believed to be paths in the body through which energy flows, known is ‘Qi’.

Of course, acupuncture has been part of ancient Chinese wisdom for thousands of years. Tapping, as we know it today, started to emerge in the 1970s. Dr Roger Callahan developed an involved and complex system of tapping, which he called Thought Field Therapy. It’s effective, and is still practiced today, but its complexity means it’s inaccessible without extensive training. One of Callahan’s students, Gary Craig, simplified the technique. Craig trained in engineering at Stanford and had a deep understanding of Neurolinguistic Programming. He added key NLP concepts and developed the fundamentals of Tapping as we know it today.

Though there are still relatively few scientific studies into the benefits of Tapping, those that exist have delivered overwhelmingly positive results. Participants experienced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms, as well as in pain levels and cravings. Results also demonstrated improvements in heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol level. More anecdotally, participants reported improvements in happiness.

Findings suggest that Tapping is equal to, or better than, standard treatments for depression. In a 2017 survey of Tapping practitioners, most (63%) reported that Tapping could resolve even complex PTSD in 10 sessions or fewer. Almost 90% of respondents stated that less than 10% of their clients make little or no progress.

It’s a technique that can be used for regular nerves – such as anxieties around taking a test, or public speaking – all the way through to deep rooted trauma, or complex PTSD. It’s a powerful tool, offering something to everyone.

But how does Tapping help? It seems almost too good to be true – a simple technique that can be taught by a professional, or learned by an individual, that delivers amazingly fast results. Unlike CBT, or talking therapies, practitioners believe that stimulating the meridian points helps the body to unblock the flow of energy, leading the body to unlearn the challenging thoughts, feelings, or behaviours. Tapping also helps to soothe the autonomic and vagal nervous systems and bring you back into balance. While we don’t yet have the technology to understand why it works – it’s clear that Tapping is an amazing wellbeing resource.

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