How Does EFT Work?

Meridian Tapping Explained

How does EFT work to produce remarkable results from just saying a few words and tapping on meridian points?

The results can be hard to believe, but the ideas behind how EFT works have existed for thousands of years. EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is based on the subtle energy system of acupuncture meridians that was discovered by the Chinese about 5,000 years ago.

It also includes Albert Einstein's idea that everything is composed of energy and ongoing discoveries in Quantum Theory.

For the Chinese, application of the discovery of the subtle energy system took many forms including acupuncture and the internal martial arts. EFT is a Western application developed by Gary Craig out of Dr. Roger Callahan's 1980 Thought Field Therapy (TFT) discovery.

How does EFT work with subtle energy?

Look around and observe how life forms grow and are nourished by energy. Energy sustains all life forms, from plants to humans to the formation of stars. This energy comes in many forms, not just those considered "essential" to life; such as sunlight, water and food.

There is also good music, good feelings, loving physical touch, words of kindness, good company, an uplifting thought, a smile from a stranger--to name a few. You can also think of energy as information or intention and even though it is invisible, we can "tune-in" to it and receive it.

Some types of energy energize and uplift us. What we label "negative" energy can feel draining or disruptive to our peace of mind. But all energy/information is transported throughout our body via acupuncture meridians.

When energy gets stuck or disrupts our inner peace, we experience its effects: unease, discomfort and pain. With physical tapping at the specific points along our energy meridians where the energy block is, EFT "taps" into our energy system to help balance it and restore the flow to keep it running smoothly.

Mapped Acupuncture Meridian Lines

How does EFT work at the physical level?

Gary Craig, Founder of EFT, answers the question, "How does EFT work?" by instructing us to think of our bodies as electric. He states in The EFT Discovery Statement:

“The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.”

The acupuncture meridians act like energy circuits conducting currents of energy. If these circuits are disrupted, emotional and physical discomfort is experienced.

Think of energy disruption like a TV with a short in a wire. The effect of this short is a ZZZZT (as described by Gary Craig) on the image seen on TV. The impaired flow of electricity causes the problems with the TV image.

When the flow of energy is disrupted in people, some parts of the body experience a shortage of energy and others too much. There is an imbalance.

The physical EFT tapping with the tips of the fingers targets the acupuncture points on the face and body where the energy is stuck to help clears this ZZZZT. The tapping is a piece of how EFT works to help balance and open the way for the energy traveling through these channels to flows freely throughout the body.

But keep in mind it is not the physical tapping itself that releases the stuck energy, but the attention and intention of the mind that is being activated during the EFT tapping routine.

Please note: the strong mind-body connection between illness, emotions and stress is acknowledged by Dr. Gabor Mate in this interview.

How does EFT work with respect to the tapping points?

The EFT tapping points correspond to acupuncture points on our major meridians. Our finger tips contain points where the three main energy channels (Central, Right Main, and Left Main Channels) meet. According to Taoist Chi Gung Theory, these three main channels come into existence first while still in the womb. Then they create the other acupuncture meridians.

The Central and Right Main Channels flow through the right EFT "sore spot" (a point about 3 inches to either side of the thymus gland, where lymphatic congestion occurs) and the right hand karate chop point. These two points can be used interchangeably during the "Set-up" part of EFT. The Central and Left Main Channels flow through the left EFT "sore spot" and the left hand karate chop point.

How does EFT work at the emotional level?

Our energy meridians form the transportation system that carries energy, or information to its destination. They are information highways.

Every day we absorb huge amounts of information. Everywhere we go we collect impressions of our environment, of other people or of our experiences, just to name a few. We are even subconsciously receiving information from our body's inner workings such as temperature, sugar balance and PH levels.

How does EFT work to help us process so much information?

EFT focuses our attention inward to bring attention to an emotion in a current issue or problem. The intention or purpose for the tapping is to receive healing by releasing the stuck emotion.

During the tapping process associated information arises from our subconscious mind to our conscious awareness. Emotions are the link to this subconscious information and leads us to where the energy block/disruption is.

By tapping to release stuck emotions, we clear energy blocks before they have time to affect the corresponding physical areas of our bodies and express disease.

Because dramatic events in our life, like trauma, are loaded with strong judgments and emotions, it becomes difficult or stressful to process and release them all. We may feel overwhelmed and unable to handle them.

As a result, many of us developed unhealthy ways to cope with strong/difficult emotions. We often stuff them (bury them in our subconscious); pretend they are not there; or avoid them by keeping ourselves distracted. By not acknowledging them we close the passage out for them to release.

In this manner, we keep short circuiting our energy meridians each time these emotions begin to surface as the memory of the trauma gets triggered into awareness.

These emotions will keep trying to find a way out because this is how our energy system clears the ZZZZT and brings balance.

How does EFT work to clear traumas and disruptions in our meridians and acupuncture points?

When we experience an overwhelming situation, an intense surge of energy in the form of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations surges through us. The energy meridians and acupuncture points do their best to transport and hold the excess energy generated.

Sometimes, the meridians get overloaded and you could say, the overload causes our energy system to "crash", the same way a power surge or too much information can cause a computer to crash. EFT comes in to help release the burden of this excess charge trapped in the memory of the trauma with the tapping techniques.

During the EFT tapping, emotions are given attention and acknowledgement and gradually released, until the excess energy is cleared helping to restore balance in our energy system.

Another way to understand energy disruption or blockages is to think of a river with many tributaries. If there is pollution or small avalanches that wash debris into the water, the current can continue to flow and carry it away. But if it continually gets washed in there, or if there is a massive avalanche (trauma)--the current won't be able to keep up.

Over time stagnation can occur or debris can settle, blocking the water flow. Water backs up in some areas (excess energy) and some areas don't get water at all (energy deficiency). This is equivalent to continual stress accumulating over time or dramatic unresolved emotional trauma hitting us.

If these blockages are strong enough, they may even reverse our energy, so that we feel like we are working against ourselves.

How does EFT work in unblocking emotions?

The "set-up" statement in the Emotional Freedom Techniques allows the emotion to simply be, without resistance or rejection of our self. This acceptance, along with the "tuning in" that occurs when giving the problem an intensity rating, brings us, the observer of the emotion, into the present moment.

Under these conditions, the emotion can be safely felt and expressed because we are making the distinction that though the emotion/problem may not be acceptable, we are. We have dis-identified ourselves from the emotion.

By observing and keeping our focus on the problem/emotion, we are consciously activating he underlying energy disruption, which is internal conflict. In this way, the timing of the tapping coincides with the energy disruption to help restore the balanced energy flow and internal peace through the release of the stuck emotion.

It is very fascinating to be able able to observe during the tapping, the changes the emotion/conflict undergoes as the energy block is released with the tapping process. This brings further clarity to the recognition that we are the observer of the problem/conflict and not under the control of the emotion. This is very empowering to our mind.

How does EFT work with painful traumas?

Emotions are packed with energy. It is easy to feel their "charge" (if we allow it), whether it be positive or negative. With EFT it is not necessary to submerge one's self in these strong currents of unreleased pain.

It is not recommended we jump into the deepest part of the pain to release the charge. We want to diminish the intensity of the charge surrounding the issue first before continuing, step by step, with the other emotions and going deeper.

The approach is like peeling an onion. We start with what is on the outside and go layer by layer.

Please note: sometime we are unexpectedly taken into the center of a deep trauma or emotion. The unexpected surge of these past, repressed or intense memories and emotions may take us by surprise and can be quite overwhelming, feeling like we are reliving the past trauma over again.

This process can happen so quickly we are not able to "sneak up on it" gradually. This is referred to as an "abreaction" and can feel quite intense and overwhelming.  In this case, continuous, quick tapping through all points is done for as long as it takes (5-15 minutes on average) until the emotional energy is released.

How does EFT work at a deeper level?

As we begin clearing one issue with EFT, we find that other related emotions and/or issues unexpectedly show up. EFT can work like a dredger, pulling sand and muck from our river bed of past buried painful memories. As it begins clearing this emotional debris stuck in our rivers of energy, more debris is stirred up to the surface of our consciousness.

To beginners with traumatic pasts and heritages, this can feel overwhelming like a never ending process. Just as you thought you were finished, up come more issues to tap on. But rest assured, that with practice and persistence, you will learn to find the core issues that anchor the piles of debris and begin to experience freedom and healing.

Once these core issues are dismantled, the current will be free enough to clear the rest of the debris (specific events) on its own. Deep emotional freedom follows.

How does EFT work at the mind/spiritual level?

EFT helps us see that things are not always as they appear. It corrects perception and opens the way for new possibilities. Major changes in thinking and life experience become possible. Deep self-insight happens.

As our perceptual system receives information from an event in our life, that information contains distortion. Think of it as running clean water (the event) through a dirty filter you did not know was there. The water that we get is not pure (our interpretation of the event is distorted). Because we didn't realize there was a filter (perception), we have become accustomed to the taste of the impure water and perceive it as "normal" and clean.

We no longer remember what pure water tastes like. We just assume that what we get is pure water because that is what we've been drinking for so long.

These dirty filters that pollute or distort our perception are old unexamined beliefs and self images of ourselves and others that devalue and limit us. They unconsciously direct our perception to selectively misinterpret the information from our current events to support the limiting and devaluating conclusions.

Gary Craig calls our dirty filters, "writing on our walls". Much of this distortion/writing was reflected back to us in childhood by our family, teachers, schools, religions, culture, even our ancestors. Believing this writing may have served us well at one time. However, upon examination now of these beliefs, we may find that many conflict with one another and actively work against our well being.

It can be very difficult to change these distorted beliefs, attitudes and images for several reasons. First, we may not even be aware we have them. And second, they are anchored down by past experience/trauma that has not been healed.

This antiquated information is hard to detect because all we see of it is the disruptive effects on our lives. It acts like an old computer program that react to new events with an automatic pilot reaction that no longer works or makes sense. For this reason we may sometimes find ourselves confused about why we reacted in a particular manner.

But because these reactions are so practiced and familiar, it is easy to assume that anyone else in the same situation would have reacted in the same way--but would they have?

How does EFT work with programmed reactions ?

Pretend you are driving. There are "rules of the road" written in your driver's manual put there by driver's education, law enforcement, by your parents, and by other drivers.

Think of a situation where you feel violated because your "rules of the road" were broken by another driver. Maybe they cut you off or ran a red light when you had the right of way.

What are your reactions? Anger? Indignation? Fear? These negative emotions can arise anytime someone doesn't follow the "writing on our walls".

Imagine an awkward social situation where you feel someone was rude to you--they spill your drink without saying sorry, or cut in front of the line at the supermarket. We use the "writing on our wall" to interpret and give meaning to what just happened. The writing on our walls makes a judgment and says, "cutting in line is rude" and we assume that we have been offended by a rude individual.

In this case our anger is fully justified and reinforced by the same judgement that gave rise to it. In short, the "writing on our walls" is a personal filter that interprets and judges our life experiences both negatively and positively and directs our emotional reactions.

How does EFT work to help us change the "writing on our walls"?

According to Joseph Chilton Pierce in a presentation given to a Waldorf school in my area, our heart receives the information, uses the "writing on our walls" to interprets it and then sends it to the brain. The brain responds with emotion.

Negative emotions are instructions to our heart to PROTECT.

Since protection entails fear, the brain also releases appropriate chemical and/or hormones into the bloodstream to prepare the body for survival reactions such as fight, flight or freeze(playing dead).

Once fear takes over, according to Keith Sherwood, in his book, Chakra Therapy For Personal Growth & Healing", the fear "causes a person to contract on every level, it disrupts the energy system."

The heart receives these negative emotions and broadcasts them as waves of energy back out to the environment. Our negative emotional reactions/experiences further reinforce and attract more experiences that fit in with the distorted interpretation of our "writing on the wall".

This is how dysfunctional patterns of behavior and self-judgment get established, entrenched and reinforced deeply within.

EFT helps us to see that the same situation for an individual with different "writing on their walls", would yield a very different interpretation and reaction than ours.

By tapping on our upsetting reactions we release blocked energy, thereby clearing the stuck negative emotions and becoming free to reinterpret these events. It helps us to see we have the power to change how we feel, how we behave and what we believe we are by seeing difficult situations differently.

How does EFT work to create big shifts?

EFT chips away at non-serving energy systems of beliefs, negative self-images and unresolved past events, cleaning our filters of self-deception ("writing on our walls").

It helps to purify our hearts through the forgiveness of our misperceptions and misinterpretations so we can see things in a clearer light. Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his lectures on The Power of Intention, often says, "When we change the way we see things, the things we see change."

Gary Craig teaches practitioners working with clients how to use "re-frames" to help shift stuck interpretations  of reality that keeps people stuck in unhappy and unhealthy places. This takes skill, however, and the client has to be ready to make the shift. This requires clearing related trauma and negative emotions first because these are the glue that keeps our filters clogged up and our perception from changing.

How does EFT work in bringing a deeper connection to Spirit? Consistent and persistent use of EFT cleans out our connection to Spirit/Chi. Receiving energy through a clean filter will nourish us with Living Water or Spirit.

Feel free to contact me with questions

or consider doing an EFT session by Zoom or Skype.

Return Home from How Does EFT Work
Go to EFT Learning from How Does EFT Work
Go to Surrogate EFT
Go to Acupuncture Meridians
Go to Self Sabotage/Energy Reversal

Kindle Version: $4.99

"I bought a copy of your book... I just wanted to say thank you for writing it. I was pretty desperate to feel better physically and emotionally when I got it, and since, I've experienced profound emotional healing. Thank you for giving me the healing messages I needed to hear, like a kind, loving mother."

by Ilona Z.

Reading Chapter 3