EFT As A Ritual –
by Silvia Hartmann, 2002
I had an interesting experience the other day.
I found myself in a situation which caused my emotional responses to “go off the Richter scale” – I was extremely disturbed by an incident, so much so that I was physically shaking and in shock. I don’t particularly think that I was thinking at the time, just got away from the situation as best I could and then, I started to tap EFT.
Not intuitive shortcuts, not personalised algorithms. Not choices or gauges or becoming one with the problem.
Not any of the refinements or variations on the theme – Classic EFT as a ritual.
Even though I don’t understand this state I’m in, I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself. Three times repeated, sore spot. Start tapping the points, starting with the eyebrow. Karate chop, then the gamut procedure.
Count, sing, Count, do the eye movements.
Back to the eyebrow point and all the way through once more, take a deep breath.
I was still shaking but calm enough to start observing myself again, to note what I was doing and to have some conscious thought about it all and one of the very first thoughts I had was that I had engaged in the EFT “ritual” without a thought, when I was quite incapable of thought, automatically. And how useful that was, how profoundly useful indeed.
This was a true emergency procedure, being performed “without me doing it”, and without having to think about it.
Something you can just do and it takes over because it is entrained, deeply learned, done so many times before that it can be done automatically.
The basic EFT procedure had on many previous occasions served to take me out of a state of deep stress at various levels and towards a calmer, more composed place – there is a precedence, a FLOW into the direction away from disturbance and towards clarity and calm.
This flow unfolds as the ritualised actions run their course; and as they run their course, predictably from one thing to the other, one behaviour to the next, one tapping point to the next, this structure in and of itself provides a steadying influence and a lifeline when all seems to be chaotic, when all seems to be out of control, when one has become overwhelmed with it all.
Rituals are used by humans in many different ways to this very end.
Rituals do not just occur in a religious setting where the word might first make connotations; ways of getting from a state of ordinary awareness into a state of enhanced receptivity swiftly and smoothly, such as in ceremonies and meditations.
Rituals and ritual behaviours are used in many other ways, in many other places. Drilling soldiers step by step in their every movement is such a device, designed to create a state of mind that will allow someone to perform the requisite actions under the most exacting of circumstances. People use “home made” rituals of all kinds to keep themselves functioning when otherwise, they would not – from compulsive hand washing to sitting behind a computer screen for hours on end or staring at a fruit machine and a thousand more little rituals all across the day.
Some people dislike ritualistic procedures and training methods on the grounds that they would impede free will, turn someone into an automaton, but in the case of severe emotional disturbance, that’s where we are already and that, indeed, is a good time for automatically – like an automaton! – engaging in a course of action that will restore Even Flow to the systems, that will take one out of the chaos and into calmer waters by the very act of performing the ritual.
I discussed this with a fellow therapist and she put forth the suggestion that the first kind of therapy one might have learned would be the one that would be chosen as “the ritual” in a crisis situation, but I disagreed with this assertion after some thought.
A great many therapies don’t have any rituals for emergency situations at all – indeed, the majority of all psychotherapies don’t.
Therapy begins AFTER the event, in many cases a long time after the event, not in the middle of it or that close to it as I was on that particular occasion.
Also, and this important about rituals, is that many if not most therapies outside the field of MET do NOT have a kinaesthetic component to them – there is no ACTION, only talk and cognition.
In emergencies and under high stress, there is ACTION in the body – the heart beats high, in my case, I was trembling all over, fight or flight responses.
People in this state of distress often don’t appear to hear it when another speaks to them or screams at them; they don’t see someone waving their arms around in front of their eyes; and what tends to get through to them is touch – holding them, rocking them, physically restraining them.
Rituals do have action – always. It is what makes them work, how they lead into a more aligned mind/body state, through an alignment of thought and physical action. Sometimes, the physical action leads the way in this alignment (NLP calls “physiology the royal road into state” for this reason) and sometimes, thought precedes the first action, gives the command for it all to start; either way, when action and thought become aligned, the chaos recedes and a different state of mind comes into being.
You could call this a trance state, and indeed, it is.
For a mind and body in utter turmoil, the trance state is a resting place to regenerate resources and a step stone to start an emergence towards normal functioning.
Now, with general and unbeknown ritualistic behaviours, this is not always the case and the trance state that is acquired thus becomes the end result of the behaviour; if one was to look at the basic EFT protocol from this standpoint, it offers the added dimension of actually beginning to heal and rebalance in the very act of engaging in the ritual, so that an emergence is virtually presupposed, virtually guaranteed.
When I was having my crisis, that which distressed me so was still right before my eyes – I was still seeing the scene. When I began the automatic EFT routine, I was speaking the statements and hearing them, I was touching myself and feeling myself being touched; and as I went through the ritual that is the basic EFT protocol, I could feel myself calming and regaining some sense of self, of clarity, of thought even after the very first round with a probably not very well thought out opening statement.
The basic EFT routine is just long enough to give time for this to happen, for the ritual to unfold. A three point algorithm without speaking isn’t the quite the same thing, nor is a oft repeated prayer that has no physical action associated with it.
This is why I would say that as a ritual for real emergency situations, the basic EFT protocol is probably the best practical thing I’ve seen so far.I’ve written this article because I’d like to draw your attention to the concept of rituals and ritualised behaviours to help someone overcome these moments of chaos and derangement in a pro-active way; whatever therapy you practise by preference, there may be merit in considering what form of such a ritual may be created for your particular modality to deal with this very real circumstance, very real situation in which not only our disturbed clients find themselves repeatedly, but which can happen to any human, at any time.
We no longer say Hail Mary’s or count rosary beads; something to replace these very useful behavioural mechanisms to use in a moment of overwhelm would be indicated.
I was also made aware of the distinction between working intuitively with clients in a calm place long AFTER the fact and being right in that situation that, generally, might have led me to see a therapist a few years later and after the symptoms and repercussions of the events had been such that I wouldn’t have been able to go on without seeking help of some kind.I’m really glad that I practised the basic EFT routine as relentlessly as I did.
I’ve been glad of this many times over the past few years for one reason or the other; there is a great deal to the basic EFT pattern, as it stands, simple as it might seem which reveals itself really only when one has spent considerable time with it and tested and experimented with it under many different circumstances, with many different people, and on the self, in many different states.
For a couple of years, I refused to learn any other form of MET and also did not seek to change or personalise the basic EFT protocol to make something else out of it that I might call my own. I sometimes wondered why I didn’t, and I now wonder whether my experience the other night would be the answer to that question.
It might not be EFT that would be worthwhile practising just an army drill for emergencies – it can be your own therapy, your own shortcut, your own thing altogether. But from my experience, I would suggest you make sure to have all the components there that made the “EFT Ritual” so very useful to me that night, namely:-
- A ritualised procedure that takes at least five minutes to complete;
- which engages touch, feeling, seeing if possible, hearing and speaking;
- which has an emergence or test point built in (the deep breath at the end of a classic EFT sandwich);
- which follows a logical sequence of events that is easily remembered;
- and finally, which includes the rebalancing/healing energy aspects of the MET treatments.
Practise this until it becomes second nature to your body and mind, entirely engrained, entirely remembered in all ways.
When the day comes, as it may or may not, when you really need this, it will be there for you – if you take the time now to install this safety anchor for yourself.
22. 03. 2002
A Historic Note: One week after the above article was written, the basic EMO protocol was designed.