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lived at the mercy of their emotions this was truly revolutionary. A 100% effec- tive, portable, free method of calming anxiety and neutralizing emotion, that wasn’t addictive, harmful or had any side effects. Like many of us I was hooked from the first and then studied as much as I could on the Internet be- fore beginning training with Gwyneth.


As I learnt how to work with EFT in a more sophisticated way however, I began to come up against some obstacles. The first was ‘going for the memory’, which of course we often want to do in order to clear out the roots of the presenting emotional or physical problem for the client or our- selves. However, I knew that I had re- pressed memories of incest as a young child and so the most frightening EFT phrase for me was, ‘When was the first time you felt like that?’ My childhood memories were a no-go area, off limits, a battlefield of undetonated explosions. Any tapping that I did had to stay in the present and I did this by working very, very generally on things that were oc- curring at that moment. A moment-by- moment awareness of the present was not a mindfulness practice that I had learnt from Buddhism but what I had learnt through personal experience as a technique to keep me alive.


In the past, sometimes my feelings of hopelessness, darkness or crazi- ness had been so intense that I felt as though I was literally clinging onto a cliff edge with my fingertips. At any moment I could fall and would never recover and the only way to keep clinging, to keep hold of that tenta- tive contact with the rock was to be utterly present in that one moment. If I looked back the past would over- whelm me, if I looked forward the future would annihilate me, the only place I was safe, and breathing, was the present and so I had to stay in that present moment or die (at least that’s what it felt like). I did this by noticing what was in the present moment and describing it to myself. ‘Chair, carpet, blue, crumb, hurt, ache. ’ Sometimes I couldn’t even find words and I would simply count the moment by, second by second, ‘1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.’ This state could last for days, or even weeks but I would survive. I would hang on. Once I


accepting every bizarre, scary, unu- sual, crazy thought, word or feeling is all we need to do. Without questioning or analyzing or judging, just allowing this reality to be, to exist as it is, just for now. I had an experience of working with someone when for 2 hours I didn’t understand a single sentence that he was saying. He was obviously in great distress and in a state of profound depression. All I could offer was my undivided attention and presence as I sat with him, providing witness to his experience by listening deeply; empa- thizing with his emotions and offering his jumbled words back to him through the tapping. Towards the end of the session his face relaxed and his eyes cleared as he said the words ‘drum- ming, it’s like drumming’, with a soft smile. Perhaps he was talking about the rhythm of the tapping, or perhaps he was feeling as relaxed as he did when he was drumming. At any rate, somehow, just by being together with his darkness he had reconnected to his light.


Apart from not digging for early memo- ries, another precaution I had to take, and I would urge you to take with your complex trauma clients (and you won’t always know who these are because they won’t always know who they are, if they are dissociated with repressed memories) is to be gentle and wary when working with body sensations at first.


Although I was fascinated by this tech- nique I was aware that for me, work- ing with somatic experience was also playing with a loaded gun because I could very easily slip into accessing body memories of the abuse that I had repressed and from there become overwhelmed and dissociated.


For example, early on in my use of EFT, somewhere between Level 1 and 2, I was tapping for a reluctance to go to work. Tapping on the words and thoughts around this wasn’t touching it so I then went to the strongest physi- cal sensation, which was of extreme anxiety in my stomach. I described what this sensation was like to myself while tapping and that reduced it. As I was tuning more deeply into the sensa- tions in my stomach I became aware of the presence of a child. As I tapped I asked myself what is this stomach


12 AAMET LIFE SPRING 2011 www.aamet.org


had tapping to accompany me through these moments however, I would be able to move into a different state within minutes and be back to my self in half an hour.


Part Two – Being in the Moment


So I began my EFT practice by tap- ping very gently and cautiously, skirting around anything big, or anything that felt like it might lead somewhere big. I tapped whenever I was walking, or waiting, or panicking. A lot of the time I didn’t need words at all because my emotions were still fairly extreme so I was already well tuned in to whatever the problem was. I made very good use of the finger points, as these were inconspicuous while walking or in pub- lic. I had also found that if I was really distressed tapping on my face could feel like a violent act, or could lead me towards a violent feeling towards myself, whereas the finger points felt more distant and safe. I’ve since had this corroborated by several clients, particularly those who dissociate eas- ily or self harm. I think now that what all this gentle, generalised tapping was doing was calming down all the rough, haywire edges, and it got me to a place where I was safely able to enter therapy and start working on my deeper issues with an EFT Practitioner. I would recommend this approach for anyone you’re working with, including yourself, who is particularly fragile and traumatized. There are different places in which we can begin but the very best is where our client is. If they have suffered from childhood trauma, known or unknown, they will be out here somewhere, so that’s where you have to begin, out here. And while they’re ‘out here’, the things they may say, may not make sense to you, that’s ok, just give them back to the client word for word.


One of the biggest problems and ob- stacles to recovery for people who suf- fer from extreme anxiety, depression, dissociation or unusual beliefs is their feeling of isolation. There are often no words for the things that they are ex- periencing and hardly ever anyone to share their reality with. Tapping is a gift that we can give to ourselves and to others when we are having these ex- periences. Simply acknowledging, and


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