Mention EFT to me about two years ago and I would have thought it had to do with banking. Today, however, I know that EFT also stands for Emotional Freedom Therapy, a mind-body relaxation technique that stimulates the neural system in order to help the body heal itself. Bennie Naude, EFT practitioner and trainer, explains how EFT helped him personally.
For many years Bennie struggled with depression. He often felt totally unable to do this “life” thing. As suicide was not an option, he tried everything to keep himself afloat: alcohol, sex, work, exercise as well as various healing practices from acupuncture, Chinese medicine, meditation, ShadowWork to craniosacral therapy. Name it, he had done it. While he felt he was doing his bit, nothing seemed to work however, and he felt no better.
In 2003, feeling really at the end of his tether, Bennie mailed author Nathaniel Brandon, who had written a book on self-esteem. He wrote: “Look, I loved your book immensely, but it is just not making any difference to me. Do you have any other ideas? I mean: What next? What should I do?” He also contacted two other experts. All three responded by recommending energy psychology in the form of TFT (Thought Field Therapy) or EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy).
While in London, Bennie first tried TFT (the precursor of EFT and founded by Rodger Callahan). It helped somewhat, but he still wanted to try EFT (founded by Gary Craig) as well. He booked his first session with Paul Linch in an attempt to finally beat his depression.
However, on the day Bennie was to see Paul, he had a tremendous setback. Quite distraught he made his way to the session and asked Paul to help him manage the breakup he had just experienced. Paul asked Bennie if he (Paul) could tap on him (Bennie) while the sobbing Bennie told what had happened. After Bennie had finished, Paul asked him to tell his story again. Although not happy, Bennie could now tell his story in great detail but without the immense emotional cathartic reaction that it had caused him to feel.
“I have never had such an experience in my life before, I never thought it was possible,” Bennie says. “It was just five minutes. The feeling of being upset and the sobbing were gone!”
Bennie says that depression is different for everyone, even though we like labelling it so that it will fit into a neat box. For some people depression is suppressed anger, for others suppressed grief.
“When people do something they hate for a living, and don’t allow themselves to do what they love, how can we expect them to not be depressed? Or if you are in an abusive relationship. There is a part of you that knows it’s not really OK . . . but because of the children, or fear or whichever story you make up, we stay in our current situation.”
He says that when he works with clients who are depressed, he lets the tapping do the work. He doesn’t have to know the person’s story. He is only interested in getting behind the reason for the chemical imbalance. To him, the body is an amazing organism; it knows exactly how to heal itself. He therefore wonders why it wouldn’t know how to heal itself from something like depression. “I like EFT,” Bennie says, “because we do not put anything into people. We are just tap away.” This often leads people to come to major realisations by themselves.
Bennie believes that we are essentially all beautiful, fabulous, creative, powerful, happy people. However, what we learn and believe gets in the way. These are the things we pick up along the way, mostly during childhood, like being taught that “I am not good enough” or “I am not able to do what I want to do.”
EFT taps these away so that we can reconnect with ourselves and reach our full potential.
Anyone can follow the basic recipe and start tapping. Bennie says the best thing is to tap on something you seriously doubt EFT will work on – and be prepared to be amazed. There are 13 points on the Meridian line of the body to tap on. This concept of the Meridian was founded 5 000 years ago with the start of acupuncture. Like any structure, we have energy lines in our bodies. If something cuts the cord somewhere or puts too much pressure on it, energy cannot be transferred between energy points. The energy in our bodies must flow for us to be healthy and thriving. Unfortunately, the flow can be blocked by drama, trauma, beliefs, unhealthy diets or lifestyles, excessive stress . . . These blockages cause illness in the body. Gary Craig’s recommended 13 points for EFT which occur at high nerve point concentrations and, when tapped on, these points have the greatest chance of releasing blockages.
Start by tapping with two fingers on the karate chop point at the back of your hand between your small and ring finger. Then use both hands to tap with two fingers on all the other points (see diagram). When you start tapping, begin by stating your problem in a loving, accepting way, for example: “Even though I have this headache/debt/insomnia, I love and accept myself anyway.” In this way we are not judging our situation, says Bennie. We aren’t saying that we like it, but we are also not sugar coating it. Rather, by accepting the situation for what it is, we are making room for change and possibility.
What we resist, persists, but acceptance and awareness lead to power and change.
Tap through all the points stating the problem. End by taking a deep breath and saying: “Even though I have this headache/debt/insomnia, I deeply and completely love myself anyway.” Go through another few rounds if necessary.
Tapping works for anything: abusive relationships, feelings of shame, bad working situations, weight loss, conflict in relationships, insomnia . . . People who have suffered chronic pain or other physical ailments for years have found relief through EFT. However Bennie does not recommend doing tapping alone if the problem involves trauma. For that one needs a facilitator.
EFT is especially powerful when it comes to trauma cases and, apart from EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing – watch out for my post on this coming soon), is one of the few approaches where clients do not have to relive the experience. EFT avoids opening old wounds by making use of protective, distancing techniques like using colours or a different word for the experience. So, when referring to the incident, the client does not have to say “Although the rape/ abuse/violence happened . . .”, a certain playfulness is introduced by calling it something else like “red tiles” or “blue monkey”. In this way somehow the amygdala (where the fight-and-flight response is housed) gets the message that even though it did happen, the event is not happening any more.
As Bennie says, it is as if the body gets the message: “Stand down everyone. The trauma is over.” EFT breaks the link between the event and the traumatic reaction to the event that is triggered.
In summing up, Bennie says: “EFT removes the things that prohibits us from connecting to ourselves. The things that hold us back from reaching our full potential and connecting with our own beauty, brilliance and possibility. EFT clears these blockages so that I can feel better about myself and believe in myself. When that happens suddenly the world is full of possibility.”
If you’d like to connect with Bennie, check out his website here. Or attend one of his workshops, for example Manifest More Magic or Resentment Reward Relationships. Treat yourself by attending his very popular The Gathering retreats in Baviaanskloof.
[Main image credit: Royalty free stock photo 123RF.com/Monica Wisniewska]
Enjoy this very beautiful (and rather funny) demonstration of how EFT helps with procrastination: