Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Learn how to 'tap in' to an incredibly powerful tool.
The Spanish bishops’ conference in Madrid a couple of weeks ago resulted in a proclamation that the “mindfulness” movement and other eastern meditation techniques cannot be considered a “properly Christian” practice of prayer. I would agree with that statement. Mindfulness meditation is a secular, evidence-based practice, grounded in psychology and neuroscience, not religion.
The bishops went on to say, “Our rhythm of life, marked by activism, competitiveness, and consumerism, generates emptiness, stress, anguish, frustration, and multiple concerns that fail to alleviate the means that the world offers to achieve happiness.” In this context, “not a few feel a pressing desire for silence, serenity, and inner peace.”
Again, no argument there.
And then we slide into mindlessness. The bishops warned that “we are witnessing the resurgence of a spirituality that is presented in response to the growing ‘demand’ for emotional well-being, personal balance, enjoyment of life or serenity to face challenges.”
That spirituality, they said, is too often “understood as the cultivation of one's own interiority so that man finds himself, and which often does not lead to God.”
They continued, “To this effect, many people—even those who grew up in a Christian environment—resort to meditation, prayer techniques and methods that have their origin in religious traditions outside Christianity and the rich spiritual heritage of the Church.”
"Many times these meditation techniques, such as mindfulness, try to hide their religious origin and spread in movements that could be described as 'new age,' because they are proposed as an alternative to the Christian faith," the bishops said.
There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world and like most of us, they are not exempt from struggling in today’s chaotic world. For the church to say that we are “demanding” emotional well-being sounds like this is an anti-Christian pursuit. Why wouldn’t the church want people to experience well-being? Further, and the reason I find this to be a good example of mindlessness, is that they’ve ignored the facts. Studies show that practicing mindfulness changes our neuropathy, and results in us being more empathetic and compassionate. And mindfulness meditation has been show in studies to make us more likely to help others than those who do not practice it. So it is not a selfish act, but one that allows us to enrich our own lives as well as others.
Studies show that practicing mindfulness changes our neuropathy, and results in us being more empathetic and compassionate. And mindfulness meditation has been show in studies to make us more likely to help others than those who do not practice it. So it is not a selfish act, but one that allows us to enrich our own lives as well as others.
Ironically, by their own argument that the mindfulness movement tries to hide the religious origins of the practice, they ignore all of the Christian practices whose origins were originally pagan, including Christmas and Easter. Why does it matter what the origins were? All that matters is what the intention is now. If people are suffering, and relying solely on the church is not providing relief, why do we have to condemn a technique that is effective? It seems to me this could just as easily strengthen one’s religious beliefs and practices. If we’re calm and serene, enjoying life through a state of well-being, why is that in opposition to finding God? It seems to me that the whole world could use a little mindfulness to find empathy and compassion for their families, neighbors and communities. I don’t see why that would prevent them from praying in the method dictated by the church. I’m not Catholic and I’m not in any way trying to disrespect anyone’s religious beliefs. But banning a beneficial practice, forcing people to choose between their well-being and their religious beliefs, doesn’t feel very mindful.
Sometimes I get pretty aggravated with things, like the Spanish bishops banning mindfulness for Catholics, or the daily barrage of negative tweets from our leaders, or sometimes just from sitting in traffic too long for no apparent reason. When I’m in that state of agitation, it can be difficult for me to meditate. I may force myself to sit still, focus on my breath and try to observe my thoughts, but if I’m really agitated, it ends up being a somewhat miserable experience that I give up on after just a few minutes.
That’s when I turn to a completely different technique that calms me down quite quickly, allowing me to return to my meditation practice more effectively. It’s called tapping. While there are several different types of tapping, the one I practice specifically is Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT.
According to Nick Ortner, founder of The Tapping Solution:
Tapping is a combination of Ancient Chinese Acupressure and Modern Psychology that works to physically alter your brain, energy system and body all at once.
The practice consists of tapping with your fingertips on specific meridian points while talking through traumatic memories and a wide range of emotions. Meridian points are specific locations on the body where the meridian lines that run throughout our system are close to the surface of the skin. We have about 1,000 meridian points on our bodies, but with EFT, you only have to tap on 8 of them, which connect to the rest.
Dr. Dawson Church, psychologist and founder of the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare says, “Acupoint tapping sends signals directly to the stress centers of the mid-brain, not mediated by the frontal lobes (the thinking part, active in talk therapy).” Because EFT simultaneously accesses stress on physical and emotional levels, he adds, “EFT gives you the best of both worlds, body and mind, like getting a massage during a psychotherapy session.”
In fact, it’s EFT’s ability to access the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of our brain that initiates our body’s negative reaction to fear, a process we often refer to as the “fight or flight” response, that makes it so powerful.
It’s estimated that 10 million people worldwide have used tapping. What’s so exciting is how incredibly quickly it alleviates issues like depression, anxiety and insomnia, as well severe PTSD, physical pain, and even illness. It’s also an excellent method for eliminating phobias, and many athletes and performers use it for enhancing their performance. Whoopi Goldberg used it to overcome her fear of flying, as did the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles. Opera soprano, Rachel Cobb and actress Naomie Harris both use it for performance anxiety. Several teams, in football and baseball for example, use it, but try to keep it private so that their rivals don’t mimic them and take away their advantageous edge.
EFT has been undergoing clinical trials for several years now, which began after decades of anecdotal successes in EFT’s efficacy in alleviating PTSD in veterans. In a recent study, most practitioners (63%) reported that even complex PTSD can be remediated in 10 or fewer EFT sessions and some 65% of practitioners found that more than 60% of PTSD clients are fully rehabilitated. If EFT can alleviate PTSD, you can imagine how well it can reduce agitation before meditating.
I’ve been an EFT practitioner for almost ten years now and have used it on myself to alleviate a wide-ranging list of emotional issues, from clearing out childhood traumas to forgiving people who have caused me harm. I’ve also used it for a long list of physical ailments and have to say that it is an amazing technique that you can do yourself, anytime anything upsets you. Having said that, one disclaimer I have to mention is that I never recommend anyone use EFT on themselves if they are dealing with a major trauma. In that case, I always recommend a person seek out a practitioner to work with so that they don’t re-traumatize themselves. Although EFT is not covered under regular health insurance, many psychologists and therapists now integrate EFT into their practice, so you can search for a licensed professional that is covered under insurance, who also uses tapping in their therapy.
As a practitioner, I’ve seen the impact EFT has had on many people. They may start out with twenty issues that are preventing them from thriving in life and usually after just a few sessions, they are completely transformed, free from the negative thought patterns and sabotaging behaviors that have kept them in survival mode.
I realized when I began writing this podcast that when we changed our company name and website, I never got around to adding a tapping page like what existed on the old site. My bad. I’ll definitely add that to my list of things to do. But in the meantime, you can visit thetappingsolution.com to see instructional videos of tapping and learn more about how it works.
If you have challenges with calming down enough to sit still, I highly recommend you try tapping to supplement your meditation practice. As I mentioned, you only need to tap on eight points and they’re easy to remember. The first one is right where your eyebrow starts, above the nose (inner eyebrow). The next is the indent at your temple. The 3rd is on the ocular bone in the center under your eye. The 4th is in the indent under your nose, followed by the indent between your lip and chin. The 6th is called the collarbone point, but it’s actually about an inch down and an inch to either side. You’ll feel a slight indent there, too. Next is under your arm, about 4 inches down from the armpit. If you wear a bra, it’s right about where the strap is. The final point is at the crown of your head.
The process is pretty straightforward, too. Think of an issue that’s bothering you, whether mental, physical or emotional. EFT begins with a set-up phrase that you repeat three times while tapping on the outside of one of your hands with the other, at what is called the karate chop point. It’s where you’d hit the wood if you were trying to break it with a karate chop. The phrase is “even though [insert issue here, like “I’m broke,” or “my right hip hurts,” or “I’m really angry with my husband,” I deeply and completely love and accept myself. Continuously tap on the karate chop as you state your phrase 3 times. I recommend you tap with as many fingers as will fit on each point, so for the karate chop, four fingers. Gently tap – there’s no need to be harsh with it – and after the set up phrase, you move into the tapping sequence.
Keep in mind, tapping isn’t just for calming down to meditate. You can use it for a multitude of issues. If you’re trying to resolve an issue, like a phobia or pain, you may need to do several tapping sequences over multiple days with the goal to get your rating down to a zero. Check it out online and please feel free to email me with any questions you might have about the technique. And one more disclaimer – I don’t recommend doing this in public – people will definitely look at you strangely, which might interfere with your process!
Listen to the podcast here.