Nervous tics – unintentional, fast, and repetitive muscle movements, usually compulsive – have been around for as long as humans have been neurodivergent or anxious.
Of course, before psychology became a respected field of study, people exhibiting tics were mislabeled and misunderstood. Certainly society at large didn’t think very heavily about how those tics gave comfort to their hosts, or alleviated unease, or helped ground them in the present moment despite intrusive thoughts.
And to an untrained eye, tapping therapy can look a lot like a tic – repeated movements, seemingly random, performed automatically.
But meridian tapping can have a lot of benefits for those suffering from anxiety or dissociative disorders – or even just to calm yourself when you’re having trouble remembering this moment is only a moment and you and your physical body are safe.
In fact, meridian tapping is actually an ancient practice designed to stimulate a healing response by activating energy meridians in the human body.
Ancient Chinese healers believed that the body contains multitudes and varieties of energy, and that when things don’t feel well, it’s because energy is blocked, mislocated, stagnant, or otherwise inappropriate.
Of course, it wasn’t only China who recognized the power of healing based on the energetic body – similar traditions arose in Japan, India, Tibet, Thailand, even ancient Egypt, and other countries.
Think about the emergence of acupuncture as a viable healing modality – it uses the same principles that meridian tapping does!
Except that acupuncture is known to be used for physical ailments, not psychological.
That’s why meridian tapping has gained popularity. Its purpose?
Percussing the Blues Away
Dr. George Goodheart, who was a chiropractor in the ‘60s, experimented with tapping or percussing on acupuncture pressure points, as a non-invasive and accessible form of physical therapy.
In the ‘80s, Dr. Roger Callahan wanted to take this work a step further. He specialized in anxiety disorders and phobias, and wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between Applied Kinesiology (what Goodheart developed) and emotional relief.
So he studied the ancient energy meridian maps and came up with a new system that was later modified by even more behavioral psychologists, and eventually evolved into EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) – tapping as we know it today. (Although, it’s important to note that tapping comes in many modalities and formats. EFT is just the most common iteration!)
In an ancient Chinese text, it’s noted that there are 365 acupuncture points in the body.
Today, experts say there are hundreds of acupressure points in the body along the 12 energy meridians… six yin, which flow down the body, and six yang, which flow up the body. In order of the Chinese Clock (or meridian flow) they are:
- Large Intestine
- Small Intestine
- Pericardium (or Heart Protector)
- Triple Warmer (or Triple Energizer)
- And Liver
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each of these meridians corresponds to different emotions, and can be accessed and manipulated via manual pressure, changes in diet, and more.
Recently, South Korean researchers have scientifically confirmed the existence of these meridians by injecting staining dye into acupuncture points and non-acupuncture, which colored the meridians and did not show up where they were none!
Tap into Tapping
So let’s get tapping.
Here are a few common tapping points to help get you started:
- Crown of the head
- Side of the eye
- Eyebrows (closer to the nose)
- Under eye
- Under nose
- Outer breastplate (near your heart, a few inches down from your collarbone)
- The outer edge of your hand, an inch or so down from where your pinkie ends
- Four inches under armpit
Keep in mind, this exercise works best if you can repeat a calming mantra to yourself. It helps to redirect the flow of energy and combat intrusive thoughts, linking peace with the practice of tapping.
Try this rotation and see if it brings you relief – from pain, from anxiety, from malaise.
Start by using two or three fingers and tapping 3-7 times lightly, but with concentrated pressure, on your Outer Edge of the Hand point.
Then, the crown of the head. Then, the eyebrow, the side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, the chin, the collarbone, under the arm, and back to the top of the head.
You can also rub the spot on your outer breastplate while you’re tapping.
This rotation can be used with all different kinds of directions and mantras – from easing a headache, to calming down when you’re excited with stress, to trying to stop biting your nails, etc.
There are many different ways to tap and to utilize all of the meridians. We’ll get more in-depth in a later issue.
For now, see if you can familiarize yourself with the pressure points listed above!