Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping takes a few minutes to do, which some might say is all we really need to calm ourselves down. That deep breath we take after we've done a few full rounds always helps to relax. But is there actually a scientific explanation to why tapping works? It turns out there is.
Your amygdala is a small almond-shaped part of your brain. It also happens to be the most primitive part of your brain. It's the part where the fight or flight mechanism is located. According to Nick Ortner, CEO of The Tapping Solution, LLC, "When you experience trauma or fear, the amygdala is triggered and your body is flooded with cortisol, commonly known as the 'stress hormone.'"
The fight or flight mechanism is there so that in moments when our lives are threatened, we can spring into action. If you think about the words "fight" and "flight," they're all about doing – acting as opposed to stopping to think about what might be the best way to handle the situation. Perhaps the most interesting part about this little mechanism is that once the switch is flipped, your body changes to support it.
A March 2011 Harvard Health Publications article states that when this stress response is triggered, "The heart beats faster than normal, pushing blood to the muscles and other vital organs. Pulse rate and blood pressure go up. The person undergoing these changes also starts to breathe more rapidly. Small airways in the lungs open wide. This way, the lungs can take in as much oxygen as possible with each breath. Extra oxygen is sent to the brain, increasing alertness. Sight, hearing, and other senses become sharper."
The amygdala is part of our limbic system, which appears to be primarily responsible for our emotional life. It has an effect on the autonomic nervous system, which is, in layman's terms, the unconscious mind. The unconscious comprises the majority of our mind, so if it decides things are going to go a certain way, that's how they're going to go, even if it disagrees with decisions made in the conscious mind. If your conscious mind wants, for example, to lose weight, but your unconscious mind is in a panic because it thinks you're starving yourself to death (whether that's reasonable or not), you won't have the success you desire.
Tapping works on the same principle as acupuncture – that the body has channels or meridians through which energy should be able to flow. Unfortunately, the channels sometimes become blocked. Blockages cause pain, disease, negative emotion, extra weight, and a number of other negative manifestations. We clear the blockages by tapping on the endpoints of the meridians. Once we get the positive energy flowing again, that energy gets back to the amygdala which realizes there is no need to panic, it turns off the fight or flight mechanism, and we're able to return to our normal selves.
This gives the conscious mind the chance to be in charge once again. That's why tapping helps you to lose weight, relieve pain, sleep better, and feel more positive, among a number of other benefits. Your unconscious mind is no longer in a panic, and the reasonable, logical part of your mind can make its decision, then follow through to bring it to fruition.