EFT and the Science of Stress Relief

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While there has been lots of anecdotal evidence on the effective of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) on alleviating a wide range of conditions, there is now a growing body of scientific research explaining how and why it works.

EFT combines Eastern medicine, using the main acupuncture points for stress relief, with traditional Western psychotherapy. Rather than needles, in EFT you use your fingertips to tap specific acupuncture points while talking through a range of emotions or traumatic experiences. And science has shown that tapping on the points is as effective as using needles.

Dawson Church, Ph.D., who has been researching the science of EFT since 2002, explains that "tapping on these points sends signals directly to the stress centers of the mid-brain" which are not controlled by our front lobes, the conscious part of our minds we engage in conventional talk therapy. In addition what makes EFT so powerful is that it is able to access the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of our brain that triggers our body's reaction to fear initiating the "fight, flight or freeze" response.

By reducing stress and reactivity, EFT helps with any problem that is stress related including sports performance, business and finances, as well as most disease.

Church estimates that 10 million people worldwide have used tapping, and what's so exciting is how incredibly quickly it's alleviating issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia, physical pain, even serious illness. It has even been shown to be really effective in treating war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In a recent study with Dr. David Feinstein, Church has been able to confirm that tapping on specific meridian points has a positive effect on lowering cortisol levels. Known as the "stress hormone," cortisol is integral to our body's "fight or flight" response. Originally intended to help early humans survive sudden, short lived danger like an encounter with a lion, regular release of cortisol as we seem to be doing in response to the ongoing stress of modern life is thought have serious impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health and make us more vulnerable to everything from cancer to heart disease.

In the study looking at EFT's effect on cortisol, 83 participants were separated into three groups. The first group was guided through an hour-long EFT session, the second group received an hour of talk therapy, while the third, the control group, received no treatment. The group that did an hour of EFT demonstrated a 24 percent decrease in cortisol levels, while the other two groups showed no real change. The EFT group also exhibited lower levels of psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression.

What I especially like about EFT is that it is simple to learn and use on yourself. You can use it immediately in any situation where you feel stressed or anxious to calm yourself and get a clearer perspective on how to best handle the situation that is triggering the stress.

Update: At the end of 2018 the U.S. Veteran’s Administration approved EFT as effective treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Kaiser Permanente (the largest HMO in the U.S. established guidelines in it’s journal for working with EFT for PTSD. EFT continues to be more widely accepted because it’s been proven to work on an array of issue.

How Getting Creative Can Help Our World

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I just watched a video of a 42 year old neurosurgeon from California who dances for his patients to cheer them up during their check ups. He gets them dancing too, including a young woman in a wheelchair seen waving her arms and shimmying her chair. I love that this doctor had found such a creative way to tend his patients spirits as well as their bodies. I imagine it’s a great help to their healing.

It has me thinking more about how being creative can help heal our world. Creativity allows us to access new ways of looking at a problem and find fresh solutions. We touch expanded capacities and find ourselves capable of more we think. We connect more to our heart and spirit. We are often surprised and delighted by the unexpected inspirations that arrive. We can learn to bring the creative process into every area of our lives to help ourselves, each other and the world.

The simplest way to work with this process is to ask a question like “how can I help the world today” or “how can I bring more creativity into my life” or "how can this problem I am having in my life", and then let it go. Don’t try to figure out the answer with your mind. Rather let the response drop in as an awareness or intuition, a flash of insight or an ah..ha moment where you sense you are on to something.

I do this all the time, especially when I don’t know what to do. Like with this newsletter. Three days before the first of the month I had no idea what to write about. I felt completely uninspired. So I silently asked the question “what’s my topic this month?”. The next day I saw the video about the dancing doctor. That inspired the subject of how to work with creativity to help each other and the world.

When faced with the events in the world today and the constant bombardment of information we can easily feel overwhelmed and helpless to affect change. Knowing that our creative self is eager to assist us can help. So ask a question on an issue concerning you, someone or something you care about or the world at large, and see what comes. Then take some kind of action on the awareness, no matter how small. See where it takes you.

Be willing to step out of your comfort zone. That’s part of being creative. We expand beyond who we think we are into more of who we really are. The rewards are many including an increased sense of empowerment and happiness. Play with this. The world, as you know, needs our gifts and inspirations now more than ever.

Overwhelmed by Life - Remember to Breathe


In times of stress our breath can be our best friend. All I have to do these days is listen to five minutes of news, of hurricanes and political tensions, and I start to feel a sense of overwhelm. I become aware that I am either holding my breath or it has gone very shallow. My body tightens up in a fear response where I feel quite helpless in the face of these disturbing situations. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Even when we don’t feel overtly anxious, there can be undercurrents of worry that create tension. Our breath connects us to something greater than ourselves. It has long been key in the practice of mindfulness and meditation. It is the most powerful tool available to us in helping us relax and come to the calm at the center of our being where we know in that moment that everything is okay.

So try this: Take in a deep breath all the way down to the soles of your feet. As you exhale, relax your body. Do this for a few minutes relaxing a little bit more on each breath. You could even imagine breathing in the light, love and support of the universe where you feel safe and inspired by new possibilities.

As conscious breathing relaxes our body and mind, it boosts our immune system and enhances our creativity capacities. It calms the more primitive part of our brain associated with our fight, flight or freeze response and gives us greater access to the parts of our mind involved in creative problem solving. From here we can find inspiration to come up with new solutions for ourselves and the world.

How Do We Bring More Love to Our World

I don’t think any of us will question that these are tough times that can leave us feeling a bit helpless to have a positive, creative impact in our lives and the world. If we view the world solely from our rational mind, we limit our understanding to what has happened in the past or what we think might happen in the future. We limit our connection to the grace available in each moment and to the potential for miracles. We limit our capacity to love our world.


Science now shows us, based on a study of the earth’s magnetic fields done by NASA, that what we hold in our hearts radiates out to the whole world. It turns out that our hearts have a magnetic field five thousand times more powerful that the one generated by our brain and it is in communication with the magnetic field of the earth.

This means holding love and appreciation in our hearts and feeling it going out to people and places in need actually has an impact. We can do this for people on the other side of the world from us, people in the midst of natural disasters, those in front of us in the line in the grocery store as well as to the earth herself.

I have a great fondness for tree squirrels and sometimes hold my affection for them in my heart and send that love to people and places in need. Recently I was doing this while sitting in my car in the park. I notice a gray squirrel loping in my direction and watched him come right up under my window, sit up and stare straight at me, as if to say, yes! So find what works for you. Play with it. I was delightfully surprised by what felt like squirrel love.

Our heart’s connection to a larger field of awareness may explain how we know things beyond our mind’s ability to understand how we know. We just know. We feel it in our gut, in our bones. This voice of our intuition or inner knowing that doesn’t make sense to our mind.

We tend to let our minds talk us out of the guidance that comes from that kind of knowing because it takes us out of our comfort zone into the unknown. Yet now more than ever we need to tap these expanded capacities for creative problem solving and innovation to be the change for our own lives and the world. We can to bring our heart felt love into our own energy field and the field of the world.