Editors Note: This article is co-authored by Teresa Baltzell (see bio below)
In EFT we have available around 15 points spread across the head, torso and hands that we tap on. Many of these points were originally chosen by Roger Callahan, the creator of TFT. Gary Craig developed EFT from some of the ideas Roger explored.
Why are these points so helpful when we look at the wide array of 300+ points available in acupuncture? This article explores one line of thinking about the benefits of the EFT points, most of which are entry/exit points on meridian lines.
Sejual was delivering an EFT Level 1 workshop in North Carolina, USA this summer (2016). Teresa was in her group of students. Teresa is an acupuncturist trained in the school of Classical Chinese Medicine. As they talked during and after the workshop it became clear that Teresa has knowledge to help explain something Sejual had not yet heard anyone else share before. The majority of EFT tapping points are start/end points rather than mid-way along meridian lines. What’s the purpose of this choice? What are the distinctive qualities of these points?
This article is intended to share that knowledge more widely so that we understand why we tap on the points that are common to EFT. It’s not going to change the mechanics of how and where we tap. However, when we inform ourselves as to the why of something we can deepen in understanding and appreciation of how effective our tool is.
The rest of this article reads as a Q&A developed by both of us. We thought it would be the best way to present the information. The first half of the article covers useful background as to the origins of the information we’re sharing. This then puts the material about the EFT points in context.
You’re trained in Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM). What is it and where does it come from?
CCM arose out of the philosophy of Taoism, which simply observes the natural world and the balanced relationship of all its phenomena. These natural laws are also present in our physical body. Health is a product of the body replicating cycles, rhythms, energies and the forces of the cosmos. Whether it’s the fluctuation of hormones on a diurnal cycle, menses and the lunar cycle, the fall equinox and the rising of dampness in the body, or the summer solstice and the warming of body fluids, all these microcosmic patterns mirror the shifting energies that permeate our world. In CCM we also make connections between the body and the elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth that inhabit our world.
CCM is the study of what causes health. In treating, diagnosing, and understanding pathological processes we look to support the auto-regulatory mechanisms of the system. We don’t treat disease. Instead we restore health.
These teachings come from classical Chinese texts dating back 5000 years. A key one is the Huang Di Nei Jing; “The Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor”, which is composed of the Su Wen and the Ling Shu. The Su Wen provides introductory theory to Chinese Medicine. The Ling Shu, translated as “The Cosmic Hinge” or “The Spiritual Pivot”, is also known as the bible of acupuncture. There are other texts that, amongst others, cover the arts of acupuncture and moxabustion and the practice of palpating the pulse and diagnosing.
These teachings developed from the observation of nature and the balanced interplay of its parts on human health. Data was collected over the centuries about the body, health and disorders as seen through the lens of these laws of nature.
This balance can best be described by referring to the classical model of yin and yang. When anything comes into existence it has a counterpart and an exact opposite. Yang is inseparable from its yin, and also complementary to it. All phenomena can be viewed this way; matter and energy, light and dark, hot and cold. The 5 phases wood, fire, earth, metal and water relate to birth, growth, transformation, decline and death. Yin activates yang and yang creates yin in a movement through the 5 phases.
The pursuit of health is nothing more than participation in the natural world as it is, by learning how to live in harmony with both the internal and the external environment. This pursuit is an ongoing journey rather than an end point that is arrived at and so there will be new challenges as we grow and evolve.
To understand its distinctiveness, it’s helpful to understand what happened to CCM in mainland China. China underwent many cultural and political upheavals. For example, the rise of Confucianism in the 11th century BCE led to old Taoist ideas and medical texts being banned, and even destroyed. There was upheaval again in the 19th century with the introduction of Western medicine in China. Then the Chinese felt embarrassed by the “primitive” medical techniques they were using and attempted to “Westernise” Chinese medicine. What is taught in mainland China today, and therefore in many US schools, is Chinese medicine as it has evolved in China throughout these periods of immense change. Much of the original information on the art of acupuncture has been lost to modern China.
Fortunately, some of the original texts governing CCM escaped to other Asian nations. One country to receive these treasures was Vietnam, where they were translated into ancient Vietnamese and have survived until today. Our late mentor, French-Vietnamese acupuncturist Dr. Nguyen Van Nghi, began translating these classical texts from Vietnamese into French about 40 years ago. These translations contain the information upon which my school’s curriculum is based.
What’s your training in CCM?
I attended Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine in Sugar Grove North Carolina USA. At the time it was the only Classical School in the United States.
Jung Tao curriculum begins with the understanding that the body’s natural state is health. So in year one we focus on what health looks like. In the second year we hone our diagnostic skills. In year three we study patho-physiology. Our final year is in clinical practice where we treat patients in our intern clinic on-site.
How does CCM differ from TCM?
“Changes in matter are always preceded by a change in energy.” This is a wonderful quote from my late mentor Dr Sean Marshall founder of Jung Tao
The primary difference between CCM and TCM is a way of thinking.
CCM Medicine is about treating what is preventing health from occurring and not about chasing disease. In essence, there is a positive view that the body’s natural state is health and well-being, and that we’re supporting that process of a return to health. The selection of points could be used in a prescriptive manner; e.g. Bladder 40 for back pain. However unless you deal with the root cause of the pain, perhaps kidney yin or yang deficiency then you cannot expect healing to fully occur.
Treatment isn’t predetermined, but rather is based on an overall view of where the individual is at and how their body can find more freedom in moving into greater health. It’s telling that in EFT the emphasis is on finding emotional freedom in the self. This marries with the philosophy that underlies CCM.
You speak of channels in CCM rather than meridian lines. What’s the difference?
Acupuncture stimulates the body's intrinsic healing abilities by activating specific points on the body along an energetic circulation pathway. Each acupuncture point is like a tunnel to the deeper circulatory channels within. A useful metaphor is to imagine the acupuncture point as an access road that services a super-highway. They are easy entry points to a much larger and more powerfully moving pathway. By making small movements to the energy flow along an access road you can influence the body’s overall well-being in easy and significant ways.
Early observers of CCM desired to identify these pathways with something familiar. Meridians were a cartographic term used to describe imaginary lines on maps that often mark longitude and latitude. Thus it made sense to use this term when talking about lines running the length of the body.
The Chinese term for these pathways is “Jing”, which translates as “channel” or “riverbed ”. The channels are referred according to their associated organ: Lung, Spleen, Kidney, etc.
In CCM we use the term channel as it best describes these rivers of energy. Working through acupuncture points, we can access the organ function or structure as well as the different types of energy in the body: innate, acquired and defensive. Innate is the vital life force energy you receive at birth. Acquired is the energy your body makes on a daily basis from food air and water. Lastly we can think of defensive energy as your immune system: white blood cells, natural killer cells etc. We can also use these channels to expel disease-causing/pathogenic energy from the body.
Using the word channel we include an awareness of how our primary intention is to allow an improvement in the health of the person and so the focus is less on a map of lines running through the body and more on the life force that flows. It’s a subtle but important play on semantics. It’s one that reminds us of the idea that we’re not ‘fixing’ a broken system but instead empowering it towards a return to health. That mindset is pivotal when allowing healing because our focus affects our ability to perceive. If we’re invested in how many problems we need to fix in the body we perpetuate that notion in our client work. Whereas if we’re noticing how things are improving we foster that outlook to allow for a more supportive worldview for the client and their health
What value do the EFT points have in that system?
Most of the EFT points are exit and entry points on their respective channels. For the entry points we are increasing the life force energy of the body; by stimulating these access points. You can think of it as waking up the system by tapping on these points. You are increasing the flow into the energetic blueprint.
For the exit points the energy is said to “erupt to the exterior”. In essence this means we can clear heat and stagnation from the channel and relevant organs. Think of a chimney releasing heat and soot from the fireplace. This enables us to allow the unwanted condition or feeling to be released.
Activating these points creates a vortex where the Wei or defensive energy is released into a deeper layer of the body. Wei energy is akin to the body’s immune system responses - think of white blood cells, red blood cells and anti-inflammatory molecules.
If these points are so powerful why don’t you use them all the time in CCM?
Classical Chinese Medicine is not prescriptive. Each treatment is based on the individual needs of that client at that time.
That said, entry and exit points are very powerful. I might use one of these to release pain from an injured area. GV20 (Top of the Head in EFT) is the point I use most often with the aim of clearing the mind, allowing a change of perception and returning the individual to unity with all that is.
Is there any harm in using so many entry/exit points in a tapping routine?
The short answer is no, for a number of reasons.
EFT is built on the basis of accessible self-care. That ease and the rapid nature of relief it delivers highlight how it’s able to work so well. That in itself suggests there’s a huge benefit.
There is a difference between tapping on the surface of an acupressure point and needling it. The former is less intense by its physical nature.
The gentleness of EFT also provides a self-regulatory limit. When someone has shifted a lot of energy whilst tapping there will come a point when they’re too tired to physically or mentally do any more work. The body is being clear that it cannot entertain any more processing of energy. In fact, even if the person tries to do more they will at best take tiny steps forward in progress. An extreme example can be found in someone who has a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In the early days of work some such individuals can only tolerate short amounts of tapping before their body will say enough and not sustain any more until after a rest.
This is counter-balanced with the idea that when doing EFT we’re working with people’s beliefs in the moment. The leaps of cognitive change we get with tappers’ beliefs allows for a huge opening for health to be renewed. In acupuncture those cognitive shifts come through conversations between practitioner and client before/after the needling part of the treatment, and so they aren’t available as much as in EFT. So with EFT we’re accessing the body’s self-healing ability in a different way by dealing with personal beliefs.
Regular tapping can increase a sense of vitality and serve as a tool for self-regulation when we find ourselves stuck in certain patterns of behaviour or thinking.
Daily acupuncture is not uncommon in many countries.
Is there a difference between needling points and tapping on them?
When you needle a point you are desiring a response from the body instantly, some call it a qi response, where both the practitioner and the patient feel a sensation.
With tapping we are entering into the flow of the energy and supporting its natural movement by removing what is interfering with a smooth evolution of the body’s energy system.
The language in EFT also allows for a cognitive shift of the issue that may be holding someone from having a “Superflow” experience.
Superflow simply means living a happy and healthy life that is our birth right.
The real gift of the knowledge in this article is the mindset of how our work with EFT is about restoring health rather than chasing an endless list of problems to solve. EFT enables us to feel the wisdom of that awareness.
Sejual Shah is an AAMET Trainer and Practitioner in the UK. She helps execs with career growth and confidence issues. Since 2008 she has pioneered ways of delivering business EFT courses to large companies at home and abroad and loves coaching other practitioners to do this as well. She has developed Business Energetics which combines Family Constellations with EFT for business growth. Her website is www.healthyinmind.com. Visit Sejual's AAMET Profile
Teresa Baltzell is a qualified and insured acupuncturist practising in Asheville, NC. She is in the process of completing her EFT training towards being a practitioner. Her website is http://cshasheville.com.