If you have ever considered EFT as a form of therapy, have a read of this fab guest blog by my friend and fellow survivor Emily Hodge. Emily has had an amazing experience with EFT herself and is now trained as a Life Coach, helping others after challenging times including cancer. Read here how EFT helped her and how it works.
By Emily Hodge, NLP Life Coach (MSc Health Psychology)
If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d be tapping on parts of my body to ‘release energy’ and repeating funny phrases whilst I was doing it, I’d have probably laughed in your face. If you’d have then said I’d go on to use this technique with other people in coaching sessions (where they want to!), I’d have told you to shut the front door. Yet, here I am, doing both these things.
I first found out about Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, also known as Tapping) not when the Daily Mail reported that Lily Allen used it to quit smoking but when I was beginning to understand more about the tools and techniques that would help me recover emotionally from my cancer experience. During it, I had all the traditional works (surgeries, chemo and other drugs) and also complementary support from acupuncture, massage and reflexology to help with sleep, stress and general wellbeing.
This is no miracle healing story, I wanted and needed all the conventional drugs I could get my hands on but also knew that my mind needed holistic support. When it was all over, even a few years later, I knew I had some thinking patterns that were stuck and weren’t helping me, and wanted to venture further than the traditional coaching and therapy type support I was finding.
So when I saw a friend’s EFT video, whilst it looked a little strange, I was open to trying and engaging with it. I was particularly drawn to the idea that it combines the physical and emotional aspects of our experiences, helping us to re-programme memories and thoughts that are destructive, by using both the body and words. I also liked how, once I’d learnt the technique, I could use it independently any time I liked, unlike other talking or body therapies like acupuncture.
Finding EFT videos online and then a practitioner, I realised it was something I responded to really well. It allowed me to focus on specific parts of a memory or thoughts that were troubling me, and to pick it apart gently without ‘flooding’ into the whole event. I loved it so much, and felt so much better – for me, lighter, brighter and calmer – that I went on to train in it and use it as a tool within my coaching practice with others.
What is EFT?
EFT is a form of non-needle acupuncture deriving from a Chinese medicine background of understanding the meridian energy points in the body. Tapping along these in particular sequences is said to bring about energy shifts, resulting in difficult memories or feelings being experienced differently e.g. a reduction in anxious thoughts or a change in an experience of pain. EFT can be done with a trained practitioner and also on your own once you’ve learnt the technique. The points you tap on are shown below:
The words spoken during the tapping are as important as the tapping itself. The set-up phrase leads the topic of what will be tapped on. There are two parts to this phrase. Part 1 is an acknowledgement of the issue you’re facing. It should be as specific as possible, so rather than ‘even though I have anxiety’ being more specific is preferable, such as ‘even though I have anxiety about going back to hospital’. Part 2 is the acceptance of this feeling. This isn’t trying to make you be OK with the feeling, nor is it to cause you guilt that you don’t already. Rather, it’s a way of giving yourself kindness in acknowledging you feel this way. This is usually ‘I deeply and completely accept myself’ or ‘I accept this anyway’ or even ‘I’m OK’ – whatever feels right at the time.
The set up phrase is completed three times whilst tapping on the karate chop point (see to the EFT diagram above), to focus the session. The full tapping sequence is then completed using key words from the set up phrase. You tap on the points at the speed and strength that feels comfortable. Before we start, we also rate the intensity of the identified issue on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most intense, to understand the level before starting tapping.
What’s the outcome?
Most people report feeling differently about their issue after a few rounds of tapping and talking. It may be that the feeling or emotion sits physically somewhere different in the body, or a pain they had before feels different, or is even gone.
If you’re working with a practitioner, they would continue to ask questions and further look at the detail of the issue, doing more rounds of tapping until the intensity has changed significantly.
This isn’t about a cure – I practice EFT and use it with others not claiming that it will cure an anxiety disorder, acne, arthritis or cancer (and I personally would run a mile if someone had these claims). This is about managing thoughts and feelings that we also experience in our body, in order to feel differently and hopefully better about them.
What’s the evidence it works?
Empirical evidence supporting EFT is available but thin on the ground, which isn’t surprising – as an alternative therapy there is little incentive to fund research to test its efficacy. But the way I see it, using EFT, along with other complementary therapies, is a personal choice. If you discover something you’re interested in and benefit from it in some way, I encourage you to go with that, rather than questioning it or having it questioned by others.
Why do we think it works?
Repetition – repeating out loud the issue that’s troubling you, especially with a practitioner, takes the pressure off of it being stuck in your head and equally starts to numb the intensity of it. It may be the first time you’ve acknowledged this is an issue and that can also bring relief.
Acceptance – In being honest with ourselves that we feel something we don’t like but we’re alright anyway it bring a strength to our thinking. – there’s an element of forgiveness and understanding that we don’t often allow ourselves.
Adjusting energy – tapping on the points in sequence does produce shifts. It will be different for each person and EFT may not be for some people but it does have funny, interesting, results. I usually laugh or yawn a lot when I do my own rounds and for me that’s a sign that something is moving around. I equally might feel quite teary for a day or so and whilst I don’t want to feel sad, I know it’s moving things in my mind that needed to be released and that’s super important for me.
There are many ways to use and interpret EFT, and likewise a range of practitioners. I trained with the EFT Centre in North London which offers good online resources for different areas of EFT use and you can also find great videos from practitioners like Brad Yates. I’ve also created a video specially for SamSpaces followers as well as a written tapping sequence below, both of which cover the topic of anxiety about returning to hospital (and are slightly different from each other)
So if your interest is peaked, try it out and see how it feels. Like it? Great, find more videos that resonate with you, or feel free to get in touch with me to find out more. A cancer experience is tough enough and we should take full advantage of all the support, during and after, that we can get…err tap!…our hands on.
Watch the unique SamSpaces EFT video here!
Example EFT tapping sequence
This written sequence focuses specifically on the issue of anxiety about a scan. You can replace these words with others words that are pertinent to you at any time.
Rate the intensity of the anxiety about your scan on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the least intense and 10 being the most. Remember this number for later.
Say the set up phrase whilst tapping on the karate chop point:
Even through I’m feeling anxious about going for my scan, I accept myself anyway
Even though I have anxiety about my scan, I accept I have it
Even though my anxiety about my scan is high, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway, and I’m OK
Tap on each of the following nine points with these phrases:
In between eyebrows point: “anxiety about my scan”
Side of the eye: “anxiety about scan”
Under eye/cheekbone – lots of anxiety about my scan
Under nose – feels high
Under bottom lip – thinking about this a lot
Sternum – distracted about my scan coming up
Under arm – don’t want to think about my scan but I am
Top of the head – anxiety about the scan
Repeat Step 3
Bring your hands to a rest and close your eyes. Take two deep breaths. Then rate the intensity of the anxiety again. Observe whether it has stayed the same, increased or decreased. If increased you may want to take further breaths and just tap around on the points without the words before checking the intensity level again. If it is the same or decreased, notice what words or thoughts came up for you in the last round and begin to use these words in a new set up phrase and tapping sequence. Continue until the number has reduced sufficiently for you. Close the session with further deep breaths.
Please note that in carrying out this technique on your own you are taking full responsibility for your own health. Thanks ☺
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more at coachingemily.com
In the blog below, Freddie will tell her amazing story of how she overcame immense grief after her father died of cancer, through tapping into her creative passion for design, namely out of climbing rope!
Samspaces is so excited to announce a collaboration with Freddie and we now have our own bracelet (picture above!) It was important to me to create something visible to represent Samspaces and emphasise an awareness for After Cancer support and highlight this profile and the importance of patient to patient solidarity within our community. To me, the threads represent all the many threads of recovery and healing all wrapped around a strong piece of climbing rope representing the strength, courage and resilience of the person wearing it, all in the healing blue colour of the Samspaces logo. The charms speak for themselves but are a reminder that if we believe in ourselves we will always succeed and we are always being looked after.
If you would like to purchase one of these gorgeous bracelets, they are priced at £11.99 plus P&P. Just send me an email on email@example.com with your wrist size and address and I will get back to you with more details. Over to Fred……….
When asked where the inspiration for my business came from, it put a smile on my face and brought a tear to my eye. My story is a simple one, inspiration came from tragedy.
On February 26th 2015 I lost my wonderful dad to Cancer. Like so many of you out there this disease invaded my life and changed it forever, this is the story of how I used my grief to change my life in a positive way and create what I hope to be a lasting legacy.
Maybe I should start at the beginning, and introduce myself? Hello, I am Freddie, and I am the owner of a small fledgling business called Hanging by a Fred, yes I am ‘the’ Fred and here is the biggest surprise for many…I am actually a woman!
Before February 2015, I was simply a loving daughter caring for her wonderful dad whilst that disease took hold and ravaged his body in 6 short months. It may have changed his appearance but it never dulled his spirit, and I am grateful to have been there every minute to share each precious moment til the last.
My dad was a climber, a lifelong, committed, dedicated and rather talented climber and mountaineer. I grew up watching him and his passion for this sport, but never quite brave enough to join him until sadly it was too late. It was his life blood, his true love and his source of happiness. Climbing embodied everything about him, he even requested his favourite mug (which said ‘I’d rather be climbing’) and book (of routes in Northumberland, where we live) be on his coffin, and be cremated with him.
After he died, I suffered a deep period of grief. I had already suffered a great loss and was trying to deal with that, then I lost my dad, my friend, my confident. I had been so strong for so long, trying to look after my mum and sort out all of the legalities…the aftermath, I lost myself. I felt so alone and utterly bereft. The grief took hold, and I became a shell of my former self. Friends said I had ‘lost my sparkle’ and even looked ‘dead in the eyes’.
Writing these words, remembering this time, the tears aren’t far away, but there is also catharsis. I want to share my story, as I want you to know you are not alone in how you feel, what you are going through, and that, although it does not feel like it right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you WILL be ok.
The idea for HBAF came to me in June 2015, as moments of inspiration often do, through a random conversation with a friend about wool. We were trying to organise a relaxing day of craft to get me out of the house and back into society, in a calming and relaxing environment. Unfortunately, after a few years of unemployment, I could not afford the course fee. Not a problem! She had wool, and I had…well I had rope, climbing rope, and lots of it! We never did have that craft day, but by the end of the week I had put together a PowerPoint presentation with ideas, competition assessment, sources of equipment, materials needed, outlets for sales and much more. I took this to my unemployment advisor, who referred me to the Pinetree Trust, who support new business start-ups and those who have experienced particular difficulties. Paul Redpath came into my life, saw my ideas and the few products I had made and the information I had gathered, straight away he loved the unique idea and my journey really began.
My idea was to upcycle retired climbing rope into the beautiful and useful ‘for him, for her and for the home’ to quote my business strap line. I make real statement jewellery, woven rope mats, coiled rope bowls, mug cosies, pet accessories and so much more.
I knew Christmas was looming, with that the crucial period of the all-important Christmas market season, so working on my business plan and start-up loan began in earnest. The details of this work aren’t important, but the fact that this idea gave me renewed focus and purpose in life, that I found my drive and ambition again, that my sparkle began to return, that is what is important here. I was, I am sure, making my dad proud. I was honouring his memory, creating a new life and building a future, and every day he was at the heart of it. What better way to deal with loss and grief?
Today I am five months in to my new adventure, I am steadily booked at a variety of arts and crafts markets through to 2017, I have just had a photoshoot on Hadrian’s Wall for my forthcoming website, and I am supplying an ever growing range of galleries and shops with my unique products…not a bad start!
I have met and worked with amazing people, and made wonderful connections. I can’t lie, it is incredibly hard work and not everything works as well as I would like, but I love it. I am happy again. I have direction, and more importantly I have dreams for the future. Losing my dad has, in actual fact, given me life again.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, or my business, but I know that there is one, and as long as I don’t give up it will be a bright and sparkly one. That is essentially my message to you all, never give up! Never surrender! Thank you for taking the time to read my little story, and good luck to you all. Xx
I am no runner! The image of me running in any shape or form is not worth thinking about but I know what a good exercise and headspace it is for so many people. I wanted to put the spot light on this form of exercise and in my third guest blog for Samspaces, Jo Taylor of ABC Diagnosis, tells me in a Q&A style why running has been such a focus for her wellbeing during cancer treatment and what she loves about it.
1. What do you love about running and why?
I love the freedom running gives you, to walk out of your home and run. No monthly payments and no ties to times of classes. You can do it whenever you want to suit your life. Getting out in the fresh air, summer, winter, even in the rain can be exhilarating.
2. How long have you been running and how did you discover it?
I started running 6 months after my son was born 11 years ago with my sister in law to help loose the baby weight and was regularly running 8 miles. I stopped when I was pregnant with my daughter and was planning to go back to running after 4 months, but was then diagnosed with primary breast cancer when she was 5 months old so all plans went on hold for a good year.
3 Do you think that having goals for this particular exercise is important and if so why? What goals have you had?
The only goals I have is to try to run 2 or 3 runs a week, usually 5/6 miles a time (I also cycle once a week too) I’m not competitive. I’d love to run a 1/2 or full marathon but it’s not a big goal. Knowing I can run every week at the level I run with secondary breast cancer is a huge achievement. Many cant even do exercise let alone run at the level I run so I know I’m lucky. I’m on new drugs which give a good remission (I’m currently in remission) but I know things can change with my diagnosis. I exercise to keep my fitness up in case of these changes so I’m in the best possible physical state to deal with this.
4. Why do you think running is good for people having cancer treatment or for those patients moving forward with life after a diagnosis?
It helps physically and mentally through the treatment. It helps you to loose weight if you have put some on due to chemo and tablets. I blamed the tamoxifen for excess weight. I just needed to up my running, which I did, and it worked. I think diet and exercise is very important for anyone whether they have cancer or not. It is the only thing that you can control and help yourself with with a diagnosis. It does give people a focus and as I said it doesn’t have to cost much. You have to find what’s right for you.
5. What do you think are the disadvantages to running?
It can be hard on the knees and joints especially if you are on drugs for cancer and it is easy not to be motivated if you run alone. It’s good to join a group or get out with friends. Like any exercise you have to commit yourself and results don’t happen overnight but you will run a mile, then two, then three and before you know it able to do a 5K and maybe a 10K!
6. How important do you think exercise is during cancer treatment generally and why?
I think exercise is massively important like I said for the reasons of mental and physical wellbeing. Also there are reports that it can help to increase the benefits of chemotherapy and I do think that it helps to get the toxins out of your body quicker. Exercise is very important – lots of studies show this in cancer patients. Macmillan call it a ‘wonder drug’ and promote it in their ‘move it’ campaign.
ABC Diagnosis supports primary and secondary breast cancer patients make informed choices with information and up to date news on treatments, breast surgeries, consultants, hospital and useful links.
I started last year in a maze, my life had changed beyond belief. I had been made redundant after 28 happy years with the same company and had just completed my first of of six sessions of Fect-T chemotherapy after being diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer in November 2014, something that I just couldn’t get my head around. I had it, I was being treated for it and was still in a total state of shock!!
I tried to gain a little control or routine in my life with no avail. I couldn’t concentrate on a fiction book, TV program or even a telephone conversation, it was as it my whole being was in such a shocked state that to try and loose myself in anything was an impossibility. An aunt suggested I had “chemo brain”. It was nice to have an excuse but really I just knew it was fear, hair loss,hospitals,worry and bottled emotions. Trying to put on a brave face and coping for family and friends was not helping me.
I knew I needed to do something, something completely different and also something I really really wanted to do. Before I had a chance to talk myself out of it, I had enrolled in a clay sculpture class. I went along lacking confidence, feeling mentally and physically half the person I was.
The first sculpture was to be made out of terracotta clay, I decided to make a fish shape until I heard the other ladies suggesting things like a polar bear, a deer and figures. I knew then I needed to up my game and blurted out “my dog!!”
From that moment on, I slowly and expressively created Beau, my wire haired sausage dog. Gradually, out of clay, I worked and I became so immersed in my work; my hands were occupied, my head was full of love and concentration as she began to grow, it was almost like meditation. To be completely enchansed by moulding and challenged by the clay, I was totally absorbed with it.
I can safely say that I’m now hooked; dogs, curlews and daisies have been created, but above all so has my mind. I truly feel that it helped me and is still helping me come to terms with what this last year had in store. I strongly recommend creating and moving forward goes hand in hand. It’s the sense of achievement, calming and relaxing that have been so important both in getting through and moving on.
In the first of the Samspaces Guest Blogs I want to introduce Jenny. I met Jenny through the Spero App (more info on that coming soon) and after reading a few of her blogs, so much of her passion for writing resonated with me and I asked her to help illustrate why it can be so healing to write. Over the next few months I will be featuring other guest blogs from other amazing people I have met and know, who have all found a positive focus, either through a creative channel or other types of exercise or other holistic therapies. I will still be blogging about all the things I have tried but by including other peoples experiences, I hope there will be a bigger community of us sharing all the different things that can help us through.
When I was seven years old, my mother gave me the closet in her study. It was a space just large enough for a few crucial supplies, and my small body. First we moved in a miniature futon, which barely lay flat along the floor. Then some pillows, a small lamp and an even smaller shelf that held my notebooks and paper and pens. There was no door, so we nailed a curtain—dark purple, I believe—that hung from frame to floor. I taped quotes and post cards of inspiring places on the walls. And day upon day, I curled up in that room and wrote myself through elementary school. By the time I outgrew my closet, I also felt like I was outgrowing my life, but I was still painfully stuck in it. And so, I wrote myself through that, as well. Before I left home for college, I packed all of my writing notebooks into an old suitcase and asked my mother to please, please take it with her if by some chance our home ever caught fire.
When I was growing up, I wrote because I had to. Not because someone else told me I had to write, but because my body demanded it of me. When my seven-year old friends banded together to exclude me for the day, I would go home to the closet-converted-into-a-writing room and write poem after bad poem about friendship, loneliness, betrayal. When my parents filled up the house with all their silent anger at one another, I crawled into my refuge and wrote. When I had a scary dream, or an exciting crush, or an angry fight, I pulled out my notebook and wrote. Because if I didn’t, I felt I would crumble, or explode, or drown.
Writing got me through childhood, and more recently, it got me through breast cancer.
When I was diagnosed one month before my 40th birthday, my life stopped for a couple of days, and then for the next few weeks, it sped up with that breathless schedule of doctor’s appointments and tests and second opinions and fights with insurance companies and conversations with family and planning for what was to come. I felt a fear I’d never known before—the fear that I wouldn’t get to see my children grow up. I felt a gratitude I never would have expected in such times: what an outpouring of support from all corners of my life! I felt a strength that I didn’t know I had. And I felt a desperate need to write.
For days, because of the breathless schedule, I seemed unable to secure even ten minutes for myself. When I finally did, I snuck off to my bedroom much the same way I used to sneak off to my closet, and I poured the swirls of questions and emotion and logistics onto the page; and for the first time in almost two weeks, I felt like I could breath. It was like I turned myself inside out, hosed out the chaos, and then settled back into my bones for the first time since my diagnosis.
When I think about what helped carry me through the last year of grueling breast cancer treatment, I think about my amazing community of family and friends, and I think about my writing. (Okay, I also think about my couch and Netflix and anti-nausea meds, but mostly I think about my family, my friends and my writing.)
Cancer has been a transformative experience for me. Cancer turned my life upside down and turned me inside out in terrifying-exhilarating-inspiring ways. (Terrifying, of course, but yes, also exhilarating and inspiring.)
I know many people with a cancer diagnosis resent the notion that cancer could ever be a gift, and so I am self-conscious at times about talking and writing about my own experience in this way. Would I ever ask for breast cancer? No. Would I ever wish breast cancer on another? No. But neither can I say I would wish it all away at this point, because in many ways, my diagnosis propelled me forward. (That said, at least for the time being, it looks like cancer is not going to take me from my children before they are grown, which of course is not the case for far too many women with a breast cancer diagnosis. So in different shoes, I imagine I would wish it all away.)
In her beautifully inspiring book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:
Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
…surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you.
The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.
When I talk about “creative living” here, please understand that I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts… I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
I am three months out of treatment and deeply immersed in exploring who I really am, who I want to be and what kind of life I want to live now that I have faced death in a way that many people don’t until they are much older than I am. Writing allows me to do this work—it allows me to do this terrifying-exhilarating-inspiring exploration. (So do many other things, like: privilege; a wise therapist and equally wise friends; an off-the-charts supportive husband; parents who encourage me to find and follow my passion; children who make me want to unearth and model my very best self.) Writing is how I make sense of my insides. Writing is how I make sense of the world around me. Writing is how I come home to myself and also how I put myself out into the world.
Writing is how I find my buried treasure, and since my breast cancer diagnosis, I am more committed and curious than ever in the dig.