by CJ Puotinen
Four months ago, while confirming registrations for an upcoming workshop, I left a phone message for Holly Anne Shelowitz, a nutrition counselor in Kingston, NY. When Holly called back, she explained that she hadn’t replied to my emails because she hadn’t been able to access her computer for 3 weeks. She had injured her back and had been in bed that whole time. Friends were staying with her in shifts because she needed help doing everything.
Every movement was excruciatingly painful.
“I don’t know anything about EFT,” she said, “but I was wondering if there is some way I can get started now, before the workshop, in case it would help with the pain.”
I asked her to describe the pain, beginning with its size, shape, and location.
She said it had at first covered her entire back, but it was now in the small of her back. In response to my questions (is it bigger than a breadbox, is it square or round, what is its three-dimensional shape, is it soft or hard, is it smooth or rough, what color is it, does it make a sound, does it move or pulse) she described it as the size and shape of a slightly squashed grapefruit, red-orange in color, with a hard spiky, thorny surface, not making any noise, and not moving or pulsing.
We slowly went through the EFT tapping points.
She used a phone headset, which freed her hands for tapping, and soon she was tapping along at a good clip, saying:
“Even though there’s a pain in the small of my back that’s the size and shape of a slightly squashed hard red-orange grapefruit, and it’s covered with thorns and spikes, and it’s just stuck there and it won’t move except to cause a lot of pain whenever I move, and it has turned me into an invalid, in fact I’m a total mess, I fully and completely accept myself. Even though this pain is overwhelming and it’s kept me flat on my back for three weeks and my back is a mess and my life is a mess, I fully and completely accept myself, I love and forgive myself, I forgive this pain, I forgive my back, and I choose to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to relax and let go of this pain and feel better. Even though this tapping business is very strange, I’m desperate enough to try anything, and who knows, maybe it will unblock some blocked energy and let my meridians flow the way they’re supposed to, and maybe I’ll feel a little better in a few minutes.”
These statements were interspersed with the EFT point tapping, starting at the top of her head, the third eye at the center of her forehead, inside eyebrow, outside eye, under the eye, under the nose, under the lip, collar bone, under the arm, and several taps around the upper abdomen.
My husband’s Tibetan acupuncturist suggest that rather than focus on a specific liver point, we tap all over the upper abdomen, from waist to rib cage, because several meridians move through that area, and the more places we tap, the more likely we are to hit them all.
At each tapping point, I had Holly say a different reminder phrase: pain, hurts, red-orange, hard, spiky, thorns, rough, hard, difficult, squashed grapefruit, etc.
After a few quick rounds of head-to-torso tapping, Holly sounded more relaxed.
I assumed that her pain was diminishing, but I wanted to give her a good foundation for future reference, so instead of asking how she felt, I taught her the hand points, explaining that she might not need them but it’s good to know how to use them just in case. Most EFT charts skip the ring finger, but, again on the advice of our acupuncturist, we tap on all the fingers (the ring finger is a key point on the Triple Warmer meridian) and then complete the finger tapping by holding the fingers of each hand tightly together and hitting the fingertips of the right hand against the nails of the left hand, and vice versa.
After a few rounds that incorporated the hand points, we did the 9 Gamut treatment. I called it the brain-balancer and explain that it brings the left and right brains into balance, and Holly was happy to learn this simple procedure.
Then I asked Holly how she felt about the pain. Soon she was saying, while tapping on her Karate Chop point:
“Even though I’m furious with this pain, totally angry and upset, here I am stuck in bed, not able to work, not able to go anywhere, not able to do anything by myself, dependent on everyone, it’s so frustrating, my body betrayed me, I have no control over my body or anything, it’s so upsetting! Even though I hate all this, I fully and completely accept myself, I love and forgive myself, I forgive myself for hurting my back, I forgive my back for being hurt, I forgive anyone and anything that had anything to do with my being in this condition, and I choose to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to let go of this hard, thorny, excruciating red-orange spiky pain, to let it go, to release it and everything that has contributed to it in any way, and I choose to be completely well, I choose to let my body heal itself from the inside, I choose to relax and be happy, and that’s the truth!”
Tap tap tap tap tap with appropriate reminder phrases: angry, frustrated, body betrayed me, upset, etc., followed in the next round by positive reminder phrases: let go, release, forgive, love, good back, strong back, happy back.
Just to be sure we were clearing everything that might be a factor, I started Holly on a new setup phrase, saying, “Here I am stuck in bed, I’ve been here for three weeks, life is passing me by while I stare at the ceiling, I may be here forever, and I find, as I lie here thinking about everything, that this reminds me of…”
Holly stopped, then realized that I was waiting for her to fill in the blank. “This reminds me of when I had an infected tooth,” she said, “and I was lying in the dentist’s chair with all that cotton and stuff in my mouth, totally helpless, not in control of anything, not able to move because of a condition I could do nothing to fix. It was the most awful feeling. I was afraid and upset and helpless, and I think feeling helpless is what bothered me the most.”
So we tapped on:
“Even though I feel helpless, just as helpless as when I was stuck in the dentist’s chair, and even though I have to rely on friends for help to do everything because I’m helpless, and even though I can’t do anything for myself, can’t work, can’t walk, can’t sit up, can’t do anything by myself or for myself, I’m as helpless as a baby, I’m paralyzed, I’m stuck, I’m helpless, nevertheless I fully and completely accept myself, I love myself, I love my back, I forgive myself and my back and everything and everyone for anything and everything, and I choose to be completely well, I choose to release all this and let it go, I choose to say goodbye to the pain. Pain is a necessary nerve response, it protects the body from harm, and I know that in some way this pain that has kept me in bed for three weeks was my body’s attempt to keep me safe, so with gratitude I thank the part of me that controls this pain, I love and bless it, I acknowledge its excellent work, it has done its job very well, and now it realizes that the useful purpose it served is now complete, it can let go now, it can know how much I appreciate its good work. It can come back when it’s needed and necessary, and for now it can let the pain subside, it can release the pain, it can let go while I thank it for doing such a good job. I choose to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to let the pain go, and the part of me that controls the pain can be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to release this pain now. I thank this pain, I bless this pain, and I release this pain now.”
At the end of all this, which took about 15 minutes, Holly sighed a deep, deep sigh, a good sign that her energy was shifting. And now when she laughed, it wasn’t a nervous pain-filled laugh, it was a relaxed laugh, a laugh with relief and a spark of hope and joy in it.
I asked Holly whether her pain was still the size and shape of a slightly squashed grapefruit.
“No!” she exclaimed. “It’s a little cube, like a small box, and it isn’t red-orange any more, it’s a deep velvet blue, and it isn’t rough and spiny any more, it has a smooth velvet surface. It’s almost gone!”
Now we tapped:
“Even though I have this small velvet blue box of pain in the small of my back, I fully and completely love and accept myself. Even though there is still a little box of blue velvet pain in the small of my back, the pain is disappearing, it is going away, my body is healing itself from the inside out, I feel better already, I feel so much better, I really feel completely well.”
Tap tap tap with appropriate reminder phrases.
At the end of two or three rounds of tapping, Holly couldn’t find the pain at all. It had disappeared.
“OK,” I said, “let’s see if we can find it again. Do you feel like sitting up?”
Holly realized that she probably could, and she did. I asked her to bend to the left, right, forward, and back to see if she could find the pain, and she couldn’t. It was gone.
“Feel like standing up?” I asked.
“Oh, gosh,” said Holly. “Do you think I should? I mean, do you think I can?”
“Well,” I said, “Your friend is there to help.
Her friend had in fact been rolling his eyes as he watched Holly tap and talk, but now he had something useful to do, so he stood beside her as she took a tentative move toward standing.
“I can’t!” she cried and sat back. But it was not pain that interfered this time; it was fear.
So we tapped on:
“I’m afraid to stand, I feel dizzy, I’m afraid I’ll fall, I think I’ll faint, I’m afraid I’ll injure myself all over again and I’ll be right back where I started. I’m afraid this won’t work. I’m afraid to try. I’m too afraid to think straight. On the other hand, I trust my strong, healthy body, which is healing itself from the inside out. I trust my brilliant mind, which is directing all my nerves and muscles to stand me up straight and keep me there. I love and trust my body and mind and nerves and bones and muscles and everything else. I choose to let go of the fear. I’m going to stand up now.”
And she did! Holly was amazed. She kept laughing. “I can’t believe it! I’m standing up! It was so easy!” And she couldn’t find the pain, even when she leaned to the left, right, forward, and back, and even when she bent her right leg and pulled it toward her, then did the same with her left leg. She felt a little stiff from all that bed rest, but we tapped on the stiffness and she soon felt more limber.
Then she said, sounding shy and tentative, like a little girl, “It’s such a beautiful day, it’s so lovely outside, I wonder–do you think that maybe–could I maybe–do you think I could, well, could I go for a walk? Outside? By the lake?”
I burst out laughing. “Tap with me,” I said. “Even though I’ve spent the last half hour lying on my back, tapping on my head, and saying all kinds of ridiculous things with someone I’ve never met in my life, and now I’m asking this total stranger who’s 70 miles away for permission to go for a walk? Do I need my head examined?”
We zipped through the tapping points, saying, “Going for a walk! I feel terrific! Going outside! Beautiful day! The end! Goodbye!”
Holly and her friend took a 20-minute walk by the lake, and she felt completely fine. She immediately resumed her work and her normal activities.
Four months have passed since Holly’s introduction to EFT, and during that time she has felt only an occasional twinge of pain, especially when she’s under stress.
Whenever that happens, she taps and the pain disappears.