Mental and psychological factors can play a huge role in chronic pain. We still don’t have a perfect way to measure pain, especially because there is a large emotional aspect to it. This means that worsening mental health can actually contribute to your physical pain. If you suffer from chronic pain and have reached an impasse with traditional medicine, you have other options. One technique — tapping for pain relief — could ease some of your symptoms.
Tapping for Pain Relief
Tapping is an emotional freedom technique (EFT) that allows people to “tap” into the psychological aspect of their suffering. The underlying principle behind EFTs is that all emotions and thoughts are forms of energy. In turn, this energy has a physical effect on the body’s functions.
New York Times best-selling author Nick Ortner has a lot to say about emotional pain in his book The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief. In the book, Ortner introduces EFTs that are designed to reduce or eliminate chronic pain. Backed by research on pain, stress, and tapping, Ortner reveals how tapping can be a viable solution in reducing or completely diminishing pain in both the short and long-term.
He claims that traditional solutions for pain relief completely miss the underlying causes of physical pain. In fact, evidence shows that there is an emotional aspect to many illnesses. Therefore, healing your mind can cause a domino effect on the rest of the body. According to Ortner, he has personally seen thousands of people obtain success with tapping techniques. Do note, however, that Ortner’s evidence is mainly anecdotal.
How Does Tapping Work?
Tapping sends calming, relaxing signals directly to the amygdala (the part of the brain associated with emotions) by helping you concentrate on key points of the body called meridian points. These specific points in the body, located beneath the surface of your skin, are at the end of your body’s energy channels.
Meridian points are associated with acupuncture techniques and are the primary focus of reducing physical tension and promoting better mental health. The primary meridian points used in tapping include the:
- Top of your head
- Side of your eye
- Under your eye
- Under your nose
- Side of your hand
The process of tapping encourages you to find the source of your negative emotions. The following seven steps should help you bring your pain level down. Experts recommended you continue this process until you are pain-free.
1. Identify the problems you would like to address
Don’t try to address all your problems at once. Instead, focusing on one negative emotion at a time is the most effective way to release these burdens. Try to focus on the memory or feeling that is the source of the pain problem. Alternatively, you can focus on the physical pain itself.
2. Create a reminder phrase
Think of a short phrase that you can repeat throughout the tapping process. This helps you stay focused on the problem at hand and gives your issues a title.
For example, you can try: “I feel tired and stressed at work”, or “I am afraid of failure”.
3. Rate your pain level
Determine on a scale of 1-10 how much emotional or physical pain you are in, with 1 as the least painful and 10 as the most. Complete accuracy shouldn’t be your focus, because it is just a marker to see how your pain level progresses.
4. Set up affirmations
Come up with self-affirming phrases that help you cope with the issue. This helps rewire your brain during the process and gives your body a sense of completeness.
For example, you can say: “Even though I am afraid of failure, I deeply and completely accept myself”.
5. Perform the tapping sequence
Tap 5-7 times on your body’s meridian points. Simultaneously, repeat aloud the positive phrases you’ve come up with to keep yourself focused on the problem.
6. Return to the rating system
After a series of taps to the meridian points, reassess how you feel emotionally or physically on a scale of 1-10. If your pain is reduced, this technique might be working for you. If it isn’t, talk to a certified EFT practitioner to ensure the best results.
7. Repeat the EFT tapping process
If you feel that your pain hasn’t gotten better, you repeat the previous steps. You can also try adjusting your affirmation statement. For example, you can change it to: “I’m still afraid of failure, but I will continue to deeply and completely accept myself”.
Does Tapping Actually Work?
Tapping, much like other alternative treatments, may not work for everyone. In fact, many experts agree its success could be due to the placebo effect. However, the anecdotal evidence is still very real, so don’t automatically discount the practice.
Dr. Dawson Church specializes in EFT techniques that cover a wide spectrum of problems within your body. He conducted a study on EFT tapping for pain relief and he found that the pain levels of participants dropped by an average of 68%.
The key to pain management through EFT tapping is being able to differentiate when your pain is caused by physical or emotional trauma. It could be caused by both. Regardless, tapping is most effective if you are willing to be emotionally vulnerable with yourself and step out of your comfort zone.
As treatment options other than medication are becoming more popular, people are looking for holistic ways to heal their pain. Being open about your negative emotions could have an impact on your physical symptoms.
However, the American Psychiatric Association does state that tapping should not be used as a replacement for mental health therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Instead, you can consider using it alongside more traditional methods.
Take a chance, change your routine and move towards a pain-free life.
How Do you Become Trained in EFT?
If you’re looking to expand your background in this field, there are many options when it comes to becoming certified. In order to begin you can:
- Take training courses online
- Watch videos to perfect your tapping techniques
- Find an EFT practitioner in your area or online
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