Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has been a really eye-opening part of my personal yin yoga practice. It has helped me tangibly bring my intention and my energetic release to life on the mat. Today we will talk through how you can add EFT moments into your yin practice and life to inspire deeper connection.
Never heard of EFT? Let’s dive into the basics.
What is EFT and where did it come from?
Developed by Gary Craig, Emotional Freedom Technique is a treatment approach for physical and emotional ailments that utilizes tapping at meridian line endpoints. Unlike acupuncture, no needles are used to puncture the skin. You simply tap with the fingers at the various points while focusing on the problems you are trying to resolve and the energies you are hoping to cultivate instead. The idea with EFT is to release the blockages and the imbalances that are caused by negative emotion. These emotions stifle the flow of Qi through the meridians and therefore can cause physical and energetic ailments.
All of us face emotional hardship. Many of us, fight for freedom against what plagues our hearts, minds and spirits for our whole lives. Personally, I struggle with anxiety. Not just simply worrying on occasion. I have been faced with anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and tailspins into worry upon worry for much of my life. This has led to seasons of depression, intense fear and spiritual disconnect. EFT has been a great tool for me to tangibly tap (no pun intended, ha!) into what I am feeling and to physically feel my body release and stabilize the energy. Of course, like any therapy treatment, EFT is not 100% accurate. It is not always immediately effective. But for me, simply the act of being able to breathe, connect with the moment I’m in and then speak positive affirmation over myself as I tap is a gateway to a powerful release. In my experience, the physical intertwined with the energetic practice of tapping with mindfulness is what makes the practice just so powerful.
Which points stimulate which emotions?
As mentioned above, EFT is performed at meridian “endpoints”. This means we tap on areas where a meridian comes to an end. Many of our body’s meridian lines (the ones that are superficial enough for us to access for therapy) end in our hands and upper bodies.
Not familiar with the meridians? That’s okay! There is much to process here. Just a brief explanation will go a long way. Our meridian lines originate with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). They are energy highways within the body that allow for Qi and other energy substances to flow freely throughout the body. Unlike a blood vessel, you can’t physically see them within your body, but much research has been done in an effort to identify and map out their paths. These paths are targeted and stimulated for many energy treatments including acupuncture, acupressure, EFT, yoga (especially yin-like practices), and kinesiology.
To specify emotions and their tapping counterparts you can use the following as a guide…
- KIDNEY | Sore Spots / Collarbones
- releases…wanting to move forward, but feeling stuck; indecision, worry, stress.
- allows…ease in moving forward, confidence, clarity.
- BLADDER | Inner Eyebrows
- releases…trauma and hurt/sadness; frustration, restlessness.
- allows…peace and emotional healing.
- GALLBLADDER | Outer Eyes
- releases…resentment and anger; fear of change
- allows…clarity and compassion
- STOMACH | Under Eyes
- releases…fear and anxiety; disappointment
- allows…contentment, calmness, feeling safe.
- GOVERNING VESSEL | Under the Nose
- releases…shame and powerlessness; grief, fear of failure.
- allows: self-acceptance, compassion.
- CONCEPTION / CENTRAL | Chin Indent
- releases…confusion and uncertainty.
- allows…clarity, certainty, confidence.
- SPLEEN | Under Arms (about 4”)
- releases…guilt, worry, obsession.
- allows…relaxation, confidence, self-compassion.
- LIVER | Ribs
- releases…anger and other primitive emotions; survival mode.
- allows…compassion, safety, acceptance, transformation.
- SMALL INTESTINE | Karate Chop
- releases…psychological reversal (feeling stuck), difficulty letting go, sorry, worry.
- allows…ease in moving forward and letting go, healing, presence.
- LUNG | Thumb
- releases…negative thinking, judgment, self-righteousness.
- allows: acceptance, gratitude, positivity.
- LARGE INTESTINE | Index Finger
- releases…difficulty forgiving self and letting go.
- allows…self-forgiveness, release of the past, joy and presence.
- PERICARDIUM | Middle Finger
- releases…anger and sexuality issues.
- allows…bonding, relaxation, generosity.
- HEART | Pinky Finger
- releases…”pissy anger”, over-excitement, over-achievement.
- allows…unconditional love, forgiveness.
- SAN JIAO / TRIPLE WARMER | Gamut Point
- releases…looping thinking, obsession, worry.
- allows…hope, calm mind, clarity, presence.
EFT points that are not related to specific meridians but included in tapping…
- TOP OF HEAD
- Not associated with one particular meridian, but connected to many meridians. Tap any spot that feels tender.
- Stimulates the crown chakra as well!
- releases…feeling lost, disconnected, without purpose.
- allows: spiritual connection, sense of grounding.
- THYMUS POINT
- “seat of the immune system”
- activates all meridians
- great at the end of an EFT round to stabilize the mind and body.
Do I follow a sequence or can I make it up as I go?
There are a few methods and approaches you can follow. Using the above order, you can follow a full sequence through tapping while speaking to the various emotions you are releasing / allowing. I find this to be a bit daunting when it comes to inputting it into a yin practice. It is a powerful opportunity to connect with the emotional body, but it takes time and may stimulate a bit more than you might hope for in a class setting. This is a pretty personal practice so it might be wise to do this 1:1 or on your own.
Most often, when I guide students through EFT in a yin setting, I create short sequences. For instance, I might just tap at one point that corresponds with the main line stimulated by the sequence of poses or one that aligns with the intention or focus I have set for the practice. This is a simple way to bring deeper awareness to the energetic connections of the practice, without needing to turn it into a full blown educational seminar. In this sequence on immunity and the lymphatic system, we simply tapped the thymus point at a certain point in the practice.
You can also group together several points without needing to do the full sequence of points. Recently, for instance, I taught a class focused on the hips and including a tapping sequence that followed the pattern: outer eye, under eye, inner brows in sort of a circular pattern. The physical placement of these points is around where our face expresses and feels what the energy body is processing. We used a simple mantra at each point to anchor our awareness. It was simple but an impactful exercise. You can check out my online class library here (access is just $15/month or you can rent individual videos).
Opening / Closing an EFT session
Before beginning, make sure you are in a position that is comfortable and not too distracting. This can be a yin posture, but consider a pose that is very gentle and make sure the tapping points are accessible. Take a few rounds of breath to focus and settle in. A glass of water might also be smart if you plan to do a more detailed sequence. Hydration is never a bad idea!
At the end of the exercise, allow for some time to feel the effects of your tapping. Think of it as a rebound pose. Find a neutral position and breathe steadily and notice the state of your mind and body.