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The courage to be present

anxiety child like. The image that I re- ceived was horrifying, it was of a baby who was burned and black and vomit- ing from every pore of his skin. This was deeply disturbing and stopped me in my tracks.

All I could do was what I knew, which was moment-by-moment witness- ing, together with the confidence that tapping changed things. So I just did continuous tapping, describing what I was seeing and tuning frequently into the imagery to check how it was changing. As I did this the tension and disturbance within me gradually re- duced until I could watch and witness as a protected, detached observer. The intense and manic vomiting in the im- agery lessened and the baby lightened in colour until I was left with a baby who just seemed completely wiped out and was constantly oozing fluid. I let myself describe what I was seeing in simple words and then repeated those exact words back to myself through the tapping. ‘Constantly oozing fluid baby, completely wiped out.’ After that round I felt much better and when I returned to the imagery found that the child had vanished. At first this concerned me, but I didn’t feel scared, so I just had to trust my internal imagery, whatever was happening was the ‘right’ proc- ess for me. I noticed that the baby had left a blanket behind and this felt significant, as though the blanket held the experience, that the blanket had witnessed and seen things but the blanket was fine, the blanket was going to be ok. As I became aware of these thoughts I tapped with them too until I felt completely at peace and the blan- ket also disappeared from the image.

I was blown away by this experience. Had I tapped into a memory or a frozen part of myself? I didn’t know. All that I knew was that the imagery was relevant and meaningful to me and that through tapping, something that at first seemed unmanageable, horrifying and distressing, transformed into feelings of relief, release, peace and wellbeing. Having discovered this way of working accidentally I then seized upon exam- ples of anyone else who was combin- ing imagery and EFT in order to affirm that this was a valid technique. I read about Imagineering and Inner Theatre and Betty Moore-Hafter’s work with

parts and Gillian Wightman’s work with the anxious and dissociated.

I was too cautious to work in this way by myself however, I had no way of knowing what else lay in wait in my subconscious and I considered myself lucky to have ‘got away with it’ this time. What I needed was to work with a skilled therapist and to find an EFT mentor for my practice who was expe- rienced in this field, and I have been lucky enough to find both of these roles in Gillian Wightman. It is through working with her that I have begun to learn more about the internal world of someone who has been through complex childhood trauma and how the parts of ourselves that all of us ex- perience as part of our multiple human consciousness, become more distinct and separated for traumatised people, as a result of the extra burden we have to carry in protecting us from our expe- rience and from our memories.

My view on mental health is that it is a continuum of human experience. All of us have low days and up days, all of us experience inner voices, we’re all aware of different aspects of our personality, one of which might be critical, another of which is playful, and all of us hold some beliefs that others don’t share. For some of us, perhaps due to experiences that we have lived through and been unable to digest, these shared experiences move to the higher end of the continuum. Our up days may be really up and involve the grandest of hare-brained schemes; our low days may find us hatching a suicide plan. The different aspects of our sub-personalities may feel stronger than our core self and threaten to harm or overwhelm us. Rather than being a quietly critical monologue of thought, an inner voice may be projected out- wards to become an external voice that shouts abuse at us. We may believe not just that people are talking about us but that they have planted a secret recording device in our living room.

For all of us however, no matter where we are on the continuum, tapping can make a profound difference to our peace of mind and therefore our qual- ity of life. Of course, if someone ap- pears particularly fragile or distressed we need to proceed with real caution as I did with myself and as I continue

to do with my clients. We should not think about working on early memories, or internal parts, or focusing on body sensations until we have established a strong relationship with the client, clear safety protocols (and for these we can add to our EFT toolbox with techniques from the field of EMDR and Somatic Trauma Therapy) and proved in gentle ways to their whole system that EFT can hold them and their emotions se- curely and safely. We may also need to be particularly clear about our bounda- ries and availability, as someone who struggles with their own boundaries may challenge these.

As I have learnt more about the struc- ture of my internal world and as I have been safely negotiated through this again and again by a skillful and expe- rienced EFT Practitioner, I have been able to feel more comfortable with working on my own and with others using tapping and imagery to transform dark energy and distressing experi- ences. I still don’t work directly on memories for myself and I am cautious about working on early memories with many of my clients. Instead I find that a simple moment-by-moment witnessing approach to tapping enables the sub- conscious to offer up the most powerful and profound metaphorical imagery. As we tap with this imagery, it changes and transforms beautifully and we are able to release and ‘evolve away’ (as Jade Barbee would put it) the most dif- ficult and indigestible of experiences.

Part Three – Allowing a Space

I would like to share with you now a personal tapping experience that I had with a younger part, which occurred 6 months after the story I related to you earlier. I was having trouble with insomnia and so I had settled down for an evening tap on this issue in the hopes that it might help me to sleep better that night. I began with general statements.

‘Even though I don’t want to sleep, even though I want to stay awake all night, even though I want to sabotage my progress by being so tired I can’t do anything I deeply and completely accept myself’. This round helped me to realize that these thoughts weren’t coming from the ‘I’, that a lot of me was happy and moving on and not at all


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