Nick Ortner is the CEO of The Tapping Solution and author of New York Times Best Selling book The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living.
In 2003 Nick was nearly a million dollars in debt from his tanking real estate business, and felt like all of his relationships were falling apart. On top of that the 39-year-old says he was experiencing, “every allergy known to man”.
While he’d read about the Tapping phenomenon, he was skeptical. But after pulling a muscle in his neck, he thought he’d give it a try and to his surprise the pain in his neck vanished.
From that point on, Nick has been dedicated to sharing this ancient technique with everyone he can – and now, 14 years on, he’s a best-selling author and Tapping master. We spoke to Nick about what Tapping really is, the science behind it and how we can integrate Tapping into our own lives. Plus, Nick has been kind enough to take us through a step by step Tapping session!
What is Tapping?
Tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), is a powerful holistic healing technique which combines the principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.
Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s balance of energy.
Where does Tapping originate from?
In its earliest form, Tapping began in 1980, with a psychologist by the name of Roger Callahan. Dr. Callahan was studying the art of Chinese medicine at the time when he was working with a patient suffering from an extreme phobia of water.
As an experiment, he decided to have his patient try tapping on a specific acupressure point while focusing on her anxiety level. To their surprise, her phobia and related anxiety quickly vanished.
This discovery was turned into a series of protocols, and was later simplified into an easier, more teachable sequence by Gary Craig, one of Dr. Callahan’s students. This learnable, duplicatable system of tapping was then coined by Gary as Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT.
How does it work?
Tapping makes full use of the mind-body connection, acknowledging and integrating the concepts that physical pain, disease, and mental wellbeing are intricately connected to our emotional states. The basic Tapping technique requires you to focus on the negative emotion at hand – a fear, a worry, a bad memory, an unresolved problem, or anything that’s bothering you.
While maintaining your mental focus on this issue, you use your fingertips to tap 5-7 times on each of the 9 specific meridian points of the body. Tapping on these meridian points in sequence while concentrating on the negative emotions engages both the brain’s limbic system and the body’s energy system, encouraging a sense of safety and resolution.
What are the benefits?
Tapping is simple and painless. It can be learned by anyone, and you can apply it to yourself whenever you want, wherever you are. It can be used with a specific emotional intent towards your own unique life challenges and experiences. Most importantly, Tapping gives you the power to heal yourself, both physically and mentally, putting control over your destiny back into your own hands.
What things can Tapping help us with?
The list can be extensive, as nearly all physical illnesses and mental disorders have an emotional imbalance or disruption as its origin. Here’s just a few: Anxiety, stress, pain relief, PTSD, addictions, allergies, weight loss, financial abundance, autoimmune disorders, public speaking, phobias, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and limiting beliefs.
What are meridian lines and how are they connected to Tapping?
The body is equipped with an energy system that travels along pathways known as meridians. Often, the emotional energy following traumas or negative events can be held in our energy system in certain places of our bodies, resulting in physical or psychological pain.
Tapping on these meridian endpoints helps to stimulate this system, and when verbally or mentally addressing the root causes of distress, the areas of blocked energy can release and flow naturally.
What scientific evidence is there behind Tapping?
While knowledge of these meridian channels dates back to ancient Chinese medicine, it wasn’t until the 1960s that these threadlike microscopic anatomical structures were first seen on stereomicroscope and electron microscope images.
Described in a published paper by a researcher named Kim Bonghan, they are also referred to as “Bonghan channels.” Since the 1990’s there have been many clinical trials performed under controlled conditions proving the effectiveness of Tapping.
A notable one performed by the Harvard Medical School showed that the stimulation of meridian points triggered a calming effect on the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for controlling the stress response.
What do you think are some of the main reasons we hold onto pain in the body?
Much of physical pain is the result of trapped energy in the body, caused by a pattern of negative beliefs or emotions. While bodily pain can seem real, the brain is the organ that actually processes and registers the pain.
For example, amputees have been known to experience Phantom Limb Syndrome, where they literally “feel” pain and sensations in limbs that are no longer there. When we release the emotional pain of events, people, and situations in our lives, the physical pain being experienced often is released as well.
Why do you think we need to bring an awareness around the baggage we are carrying?
As my dear departed friend Louise Hay once told me, “If you want to clean the house, you have to see the dirt.”
It’s a simple, yet most profound statement. True healing and emotional relief can only come after we’ve acknowledge that there is something that needs to be repaired or let go of. It’s this awareness that opens the door to positive changes.
What advice do you have for people who are fearful to confront their physical and emotional limitations?
While certainly the experience of negative events such as trauma or abuse can be scary to revisit, there are often some simpler, less complex areas of our lives to try tapping on first.
I often refer to the process of Tapping as, “Peeling layers of an onion” because there are usually multiple layers of emotional components around any give situation. So I always advise folks who are apprehensive to start with the outer layers (the ones they DO feel comfortable with) first. The resolution of these outer layers will naturally open the path to courageously face the deeper ones, eventually reaching the core issue.
What’s the importance of having a deep sense of safety, and what happens when we don’t feel safe?
Many of our physical and emotional issues are the result of stress and anxiety. In other words, FEAR. Whether that fear be of an actual threat (like encountering an angry bear in woods) or a perceived threat (like that of public speaking) our bodies still react the exact same.
The amygdala is triggered, stress hormones are released, and our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode. The feeling of safety is the exact opposite, and is one of the immediate effects of Tapping – the calming of the amygdala. From this place of calm of safety, we can more easily access past events or situations that are at the root of the emotional distress.
How can we stop tension and pain building up in the body?
The first thing is to release as much tension and pain already stored up in the body. If you’re already stressed, it’s difficult to prevent more from coming in because it’s already an open door. But once you’ve cleared out as much as you can, and become proficient at Tapping in the process, you can tap daily on ANY event, situation, or person that may be a source of stress.
This daily tapping practice, is like taking a daily shower. Sure, we’ll experience the “dirt” of situations from time to time, but you’ll now have a way to cleanse the negative emotions from your body.
What are people most skeptical about when it comes to Tapping?
Probably how quickly it works! When folks have been living with something like chronic pain for months, years, or even decades, it’s difficult to even conceive ANYTHING will bring relief, especially Tapping on parts of the body.
But as you can see on many of the live seminars I’ve recorded, those who come up on stage experience just that – relief in a matter of minutes!
It’s still quite miraculous, even to me. But just think of it this way – if you’ve had a clogged drain in your kitchen sink, and your plumber (aka doctor) keeps telling you to check the faucet, is it any wonder why relief isn’t found?
To me, Tapping acts like Drano. I just show them where the clog actually is, and help them clean it out and poof! Just like the water (their energy) flows freely again, often taking most physical pain and emotional distress with it.
As a business owner, how has Tapping helped you to develop and run your company?
It’s been critical! We don’t operate at our highest levels when we’re stressed and there’s no intervention quicker at lowering and eliminating that stress than Tapping. When I Tap, I bring my brain fully online and can make the best business decisions.
What do you attribute your success to?
Passion for helping others! It’s what drives me and it’s gotten me this far.
What is your personal Tapping ritual?
At first, it was a lot of Tapping to clear out the old junk! But now it’s more maintenance, on issues as they come up.
Since you’ve been Tapping, what changes have you seen in your mind, body and soul?
Wholesale changes. I am more at peace, focused and happy than I’ve ever been.
What other things do you do to look after your health and wellness?
Meditation, yoga, exercise, sunlight, nature, nutrition and more!
Where do you hope to be in the next ten years?
Doing the same thing I’m doing now, just having reached more people!
What’s one message you want everyone to know when it comes to Tapping?
Try it! You have nothing to lose and the world to gain.
Can you take us through a beginner’s step by step on how to start a tapping practice?
As mentioned earlier, Tapping can be used to resolve a variety of issues – so try it on everything! Here’s the method for how to use it. In this example, we’ll focus on general anxiety.
Here’s how a basic Tapping sequence works:
Identify the problem on which you want to focus. It can be general anxiety, or it can be a specific situation or issue which causes you to feel anxious.
Consider the problem or situation. How do you feel about it right now? Rate the intensity level of your anxiety on a scale of 0 to 10, with zero being the lowest level of anxiety and ten being the highest.
Compose a setup statement. Your setup statement should acknowledge the problem you want to deal with, then follow it with an unconditional affirmation of yourself as a person.
Setup statement examples:
“Even though I feel this anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m anxious about my interview, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m feeling this anxiety about my financial situation, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I panic when I think about ______, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m worried about how to approach my boss, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m having trouble breathing, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Get ready to begin Tapping!
With four fingers on one hand, begin tapping the Karate Chop point on your other hand. The Karate Chop point is on the outer edge of the hand, on the opposite side from the thumb.
Repeat the setup statement three times aloud, while simultaneously tapping the Karate Chop point. Now take a deep breath.
Now, tap about 5 to 7 times each on the remaining eight points in the sequence described below.
As you tap on each point, repeat a simple reminder phrase, such as “my anxiety” or “my interview” or “my financial situation” to help you mentally focus on your issue.
Eyebrow Point (EB)
Where the eyebrows begin, closest to the bridge of the nose.
Side of Eye (SE)
On the bone directly along the outside of either eye.
Under Eye (UE)
On the bone directly under either eye.
Under Nose (UN)
The area directly beneath the nose and above the upper lip.
Chin Point (CP)
This is the area just below your bottom lip and above the chin, right in the crease.
Collarbone Point (CB)
Starting from where your collar bones meet in the center, go down an inch and out an inch on either side.
Under Arm (UA)
On your side, about four inches beneath the armpit.
Top of Head (TH)
Directly on the crown of your head.
And take another deep breath!
Now that you’ve completed the sequence, focus on your problem again. How intense is the anxiety now, in comparison to a few minutes ago? Give it a rating on the same 0 to 10 scale.
Did you notice a shift?
If your anxiety level is still higher than 2 or 3, you can do another round of tapping. Keep tapping through the sequence until the anxiety is gone. You can change your setup statement slightly to take into account your efforts to fix the problem or your desire for continued progress.
“Even though I have some remaining anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I’m still a little worried about this interview, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
And so on.
Now that you’ve focused on dispelling your immediate anxiety, you can work on instilling some positive feelings in its place. This approach is different from traditional “positive thinking.” You’re not being dishonest with yourself. You’re not trying to obscure the stress and anxiety inside yourself with a veneer of insincere affirmations. Rather, you’ve confronted and dealt with the anxiety and its corresponding negative emotions, offering deep and complete acceptance to both your feelings and yourself.
After you’ve cleared the emotional dirt away, you can then turn your thoughts and vibrations to the powerful and positive.
That’s what makes Tapping so much more effective than the “positive thinking” techniques that many of you have already tried. It’s not just a mental trick. You’re actually changing your body’s biochemistry and energy into a more positive direction.
Here are some example phrases to guide you:
“I have faith in my ability to change.”
“I am joyful about these positive changes.”
“I am accomplishing so much.”
“I enjoy the calm and peace that I have.”
“I love the person that I am.”
“I am becoming a more relaxed and joyful person.”
You can use these positive phrases with the same sequence of Tapping points described above.
Here are some tips to help you achieve the correct technique.
You should use a firm but gentle pressure, the same as if you were drumming on the top of your desk or testing a melon for ripeness.
You can use all four fingers, or just the first two (the index and middle fingers). Four fingers are generally used on wider areas, while just two can be used on sensitive areas, such as around the eyes.
Tap with your fingertips, not your fingernails.
You can tap one side of the body or both at the same time. The meridian points are symmetrical on either side of the body.
Congratulations! You’ve completed your first Tapping sequence.