by Patricia Carrington, Ph.D.
I have long worked with relaxation methods and meditation methods which, each in its own way, create deep relaxation. However not until very recently did I think of using EFT as a formal “relaxation method.”
One of the things we find with relaxation techniques is that sudden relaxation can be threatening. If we are feeling tense, with our muscles tightened, it usually works better if we can move gradually into a relaxation mode. The reason is that muscle tension is a basic survival mechanism. Today it is often a misapplied effort at survival, however –– we are probably tensing up over something that is not life-threatening –– but in the primordial world where our ancestors existed for millennia, having properly tense, muscles when they were needed was often a matter of life and death. Whether or not one could supply enough muscle tension to fight for survival or to flee, was a crucial matter.
For this reason there is often something inherently threatening to a tense person in the idea of relaxing. It is though we would be ambushed if we were to relax!
This dilemma is handled in different ways with different relaxation techniques, but EFT is a particularly rapid change technique and I have found that if you want to relax muscular tension using EFT that the best way to do this is by using a three step process which goes as follows:
Step 1. Acknowledge the presence of muscle tension.
Do one round of the Short Form of EFT, commencing at the Inner Eyebrow spot and ending up on the top of the head (or wherever your version of the Short Form ends). At each tapping spot, say out loud the word “Tense”. Don’t be afraid that this will make your tension worse, it won’t because you are counteracting the tension by stimulating anti-anxiety, anti-tension meridians in the energy system at the same time.
2. Alternate EFT Phrases
Step 1 is not enough in most cases to establish true relaxation, so your next step is to alternate phrases at different spots by saying the word “Tense” on the first tapping spot (inner eyebrow) and the word “Relax” on the next spot (in this case it would be the outer eye spot), then saying “Tense” on the under eye spot and “Relax” under the nose, and so on until you end up saying the word “Relax” on the top of your head (or wherever you end up in your version of the Short Form).
You will probably notice something interesting when you do this. When you say “Tense” you are apt to feel a tightening up, and when you say “Relax” to feel relaxation. This rapid switching from one state to the other is important because by doing this you are making clear to your brain that it is possible to switch back and forth from tension to relaxation and back again ––that you don’t need to be “stuck” in either of these states, you are not confined to either, it is possible to shift. In this round you are giving yourself practice in shifting.
3. Tap in “Relax”
Having recognized tension in the first step, and an ability to shift between tension and relaxation in the second, you are now ready for the third step of the process which is to say the word “Relax” at each EFT tapping point, and do this for one whole round of EFT.
Had you done this in the beginning, it might have resulted in resistance. I have found that to occur with myself. However, when I prepare for relaxation by using the first two steps, by the time I get to the third step and say “Relax” for an entire round, it can be remarkably effective. I am no longer “threatened” by the concept of relaxation because I have been introduced to it gradually in the first two steps.
I suggest that you use this technique at any time when you feel tense. My clients and I are finding it extremely useful. I would welcome feedback from readers about it as well. Reader reactions can be useful in shaping future recommendations with regard to EFT.
The How to Relax audio differs from most other relaxation training in that it does not teach you how to relax while sitting or lying down, but while you are in action.
Learn how to relax first, then how to remain fully relaxed while running, swimming, typing on a keyboard, answering the phone, or whatever else you have to do during the day. This can lead to improved performance in whatever activity you are engaged in and it can certainly make you healthier.