Tapping (aka the emotional freedom technique) has been around in one way or another for thousands of years, but it's Roger Callahan, MD, who is regarded as the founder of modern-day tapping. Back in the '80s, his concept known as "Thought Field Therapy (TFT)" launched.
Callahan discovered that by tapping acupressure points in different meridians of the body, he could relieve pain and anxiety. While it may sound quite out there, TFT was found to help war veterans with PTSD in a 2013 study. On Callahan's website, he says TFT should be used in addition to your medications to reduce the risk associated with continued medication use and to enhance their effect rather than as a replacement.
But what if you don't suffer from pain or anxiety? Does tapping have a place in your daily routine? Danielle Copperman, the author of Well Being, thinks so. "Tapping is a simple routine that promotes blood circulation and energy flow, refreshing and invigorating the body," she says.
"It involves tapping and massaging parts of the body, using a combination of fists and fingertips to activate them and to release any tension, emotion or energy blockages held within. This is one of my favorite rituals and can be an energizing practice to include in your morning routine if you want to raise your vibrational energy and feel balanced, lighter and physically less stiff," says Copperman.
Your 10-Step Guide to Tapping
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and bring each hand into a loose fist, keeping the wrists soft, supple and easy to rotate.
- Starting at the head, use your fists (or fingertips if you prefer), and with both hands, tap over the entire surface of your head. Tap the back of your head and your upper neck; then make your way around the sides and up over the top and the crown of your head. Tap for a few moments in each place, keeping the power behind your hands gentle—you're tapping, not hitting or punching.
- Use your fingertips to massage the head and then bring the fingertips down past your forehead and across your entire face. Use a similar motion to applying moisturizer or washing your face, concentrating on the eyebrows, under eyes, cheekbones, and jaw.
- Work down the neck, squeezing and massaging whichever way feels good. Move the head and neck to accommodate your actions, tipping the head forward, backward or from side to side. Massage the back of the neck and stroke down the front of the neck until you reach the chest area.
- With one hand, hold the opposite elbow and tip your head toward the arm that is being held. Make a loose fist with the free hand and begin tapping the opposite shoulder, focusing on the muscles around the neck and shoulder and as far down the back as you can reach.
- Release the supported elbow and continue working on the arms, tapping down the inside of the arms and tapping back up the back of the arms. Do this three to five times, ending at the shoulder rather than the wrist. Repeat steps five and six on the other arm.
- Begin to tap across the chest area, tapping normally as you breathe out and more gently when you need to inhale.
- Bend at the hips and fold forward with your legs slightly bent. Release the head, neck, and shoulders toward the floor and begin to tap the center and sides of the back, moving to the lower back, the hips and then the buttocks. Use more force on the buttocks if you feel a lot of tension.
- Tap down the outside of the legs to the ankles and up the inside of the legs to the top of the thighs. Repeat three to five times, ending at the feet. Using your fingertips and focusing on one foot at a time, rub the Achilles tendon, ankles, heels and the top of the foot. (If you experience pain in the back or feel light-headed, do this sitting down, on the floor or a chair.)
- To end the practice, roll up slowly—one vertebra at a time—and stretch tall toward the sky. Release your arms, close your eyes, roll your shoulders down and away from your ears and stand, taking a few moments to notice how your body feels, and how it differs from before the practice.
Church D, Hawk C, Brooks AJ, et al. Psychological trauma symptom improvement in veterans using emotional freedom techniques: a randomized controlled trial. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2013;201(2):153–160. doi:10.1097/NMD.0b013e31827f6351