Friday, September 30, 2016

Tapping without words

Tapping without words is especially useful when you're tapping by yourself and you don't know what to say, or what you want to say ends up confusing you and you can't see the woods for the trees.

Tap both the sides of your hands together (the karate chop points) and keep going until you yawn, sigh, burp, whatever signs that you get that let you know things are shifting and moving. (Do this on every point). The karate chop point (small intestine meridian where we assimilate food, experiences etc) corrects psychological reversal, which is any block you may have to releasing the issue/feeling/body sensation. It sets your system up for tapping and makes tapping much more effective.

Then start tapping down through the points, you can do the shortcut or the basic recipe for EFT. Start with the basic recipe as the 9 gamut can often shift trapped/frozen/blocked emotions/issues/body sensations. Also, as you tap down through the points, try tapping alternately on the bilateral points. The bilateral points are the eyebrows, sides of eye, under eyes, collar bone, and under the arm points. This is similar to the bilateral stimulation of the brain and body that you find in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy), which is most likely why the 9 gamut sequence works so well. I find tapping alternately on the points helps to relieve stress levels quite quickly. Keep going until you feel a shift/movement or until you feel like you are "done" so to speak. Repeat as necessary :-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Flight, fight and freeze

Have you ever felt that you have spent the better part of your life in these states? Try tapping on this script and make sure to customise it for you and your unique experiences.

Even though I fight when/if (whatever else fits)... I completely accept my response

Even though I flee when/if ... this response used to/does help me in a bad situation but sometimes it makes things worse

Even though I freeze (shut down/numb etc) when/if ... I can become aware of my various different responses to stress, they're all trying to help me survive

Top of the head: It feels ... when I fight (take note of where you feel it in your body if you can)
Eyebrow: This tightness in stomach (for example, insert how fighting shows up for you)
Side of eye: This tension in my jaw
Under the eye: I want to punch something/someone (find something soft to punch to help you discharge the fight response)
Under the nose: I feel like screaming
Under the chin: I'm tired of having to fight
Collarbone: Why aren't things just ok?
Under the arm: I don't know how else to protect myself from harm

Top of the head: It feels ... when I flee (or feel the need to but can't)
Eyebrow: When I can go I feel ...
Side of eye: When I'm stuck and can't move that feels ...
Under the eye: When I'm too afraid to flee that feels ...
Under the nose: I'm noticing where this need to flee shows up in my body (my emotions, my mind)
Under the chin: And that feels ...
Collarbone: I'll notice as much as I can
Under the arm: I don't have to do this all at once

Top of the head: It feels ... when I freeze
Eyebrow: Freezing/shutting down/numbing helps me when ...
Side of eye: What is happening to my breath right now as I'm tapping on this?
Under the eye: I don't have to change my breath, I can just follow it and see where it goes
Under the nose: What do I see right in front me?
Under the chin: Can I describe it to myself out loud?
Collarbone: What do I hear? Can I describe the sounds out loud?
Under the arm: What can I feel/touch?

Top of the head: Becoming aware is the first step to changing
Eyebrow: I can take it as slowly as I need to in order to feel safe
Side of eye: I'm noticing my body's sensations more and more and that feels ...
Under the nose: I don't need to fight these sensations (It's ok if you feel you do need to fight/flee or freeze, tap on exactly how you feel, the truth really does set your system free)
Under the chin: These responses can be adaptive to stress
Collarbone: And sometimes, they're not, sometime they're caught in a feedback loop that goes nowhere
Under the arm: And that feels ...

Top of the head: I'm going to notice when I fight, flee or freeze
Eyebrow: And how they show up
Side of the eye: I'm going to breathe through how they show up as best as I can
Under the eye: And notice what's in front of me
Under the nose: Notice if my feet are flat on the ground and how I'm breathing
Under the chin: My instincts have saved my life
Collarbone: And I'm learning to appreciate them for that
Under the arm: And that makes me feel ...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trauma: one of the biggest health problems in the world?

I believe trauma is one of the biggest public health problems in the world, if not the biggest. One of the most famous studies linking trauma to physical and mental health issues is the ACE study. Ischemic heart disease, cancer, liver disease, severe obesity, drug abuse and depression are just a few of the conditions linked to adverse childhood experiences (ACE), depending on how high an individual scores on a 10 item questionnaire. Questionnaires are not always accurate though, especially if you only have to tick yes or no or circle a number on a likert scale. So if a person only ticks one item, that doesn't mean that they're not traumatised. More in depth interviews are also needed to give an accurate diagnosis of trauma. Trauma is much more widespread than previously thought, a diagnosis of PTSD is not the only way trauma can manifest.

This comes as no surprise to many of us. So instead of getting bogged down and only treating symptoms, which is a never ending, but extremely profitable, merry-go-round, we should be looking for and treating the root cause of physical and mental dis-eases. And it’s obvious to a lot of us that the root cause in the vast majority of cases is trauma.

There is a mountain of research showing the ill effects of unresolved trauma. It’s important to note that we can go through something traumatic and not develop trauma. Trauma occurs when our coping mechanisms are overwhelmed and we dissociate. Dissociation is an ingenious survival mechanism that allows us to freeze any experience(s) we find unbearable. We do this on both a psychological and somatic level. And we all dissociate to a greater or lesser degree, we are all somewhere on the dissociation continuum.

Not surprisingly, dissociation happens more often with babies and children (in utero and beyond), as their capacity to process difficult experiences is limited and very much dependent on the attachment and support they have from their caregivers. If their caregivers are the harbingers of trauma, deep betrayal occurs. How can a baby or young child process that? They can’t. They need their caregivers for their very survival, so they’ll do whatever they can do to survive the situation. And that usually means dissociating from the pain and the fact that their parents are the abusers so that they can go on.

But dissociation has a high price. While it’s a brilliant short term solution, long term it can cause havoc. Seemingly unexplained symptoms start to show up in our lives from about the age of 30 onwards, of course, sometimes that can happen a lot earlier. We might wonder what’s happening and go on a long and difficult journey of trying to find out what’s wrong which can lead to frustration and which is very often retraumatising. When trauma is the root cause of our ill health, it is our dysregulated nervous systems that need attention and treatment.

This is why I believe that talk therapy is not effective on its own, we need to include the body in trauma therapy. It is almost criminal not to in my opinion as it is leaving out a crucial part of the healing equation. Whatever therapy you choose though, make sure you find a responsive and attuned practitioner with whom you feel safe. In my experience, these are the most important ingredients to get right. If our nervous system doesn’t feel safe, we will remain frozen. Our bodies can’t and won’t lie, they are a fantastic guidance system when we (re)learn to trust and feel safe in them.