My guest this week is Alex Ortner, the Chief Marketing Officer and co-owner, along with his brother Nick and sister Jessica, of The Tapping Solution, a company on a mission to bring into the mainstream a simple, life-changing, technique known as EFT or Tapping. Alex is a speaker, author, entrepreneur, and marketing expert who has produced first-of-their-kind online programs such as The Tapping World Summit, the longest-running online summit which has been attended by over 3 million people over the last 12 years and The Tapping Solution App, which features easy to follow Tapping Meditations and has over 130,000 active monthly users and over 1.8 million meditation plays. Alex is the co-founder of The Tapping Solution Foundation, which aids trauma survivors such as genocide survivors in Rwanda, war veterans, and those effected by school shootings, such as the one in his home town of Sandy Hook, CT. He is a father of 3 and the author of the children’s book “Gorilla Thumps and Bear Hugs: A Tapping Solution Children’s Story” and speaks to teachers and students through his foundation on how to use Tapping to create balance, relieve stress and get better results in the classroom.
In this episode, Alex and I discuss how the Emotional Freedom Technique, tapping, can help parents and children relieve stress and anxiety. Tapping techniques are well-known for their ability to activate the body and rewire the brain by sending calming signals to the brain’s amygdala. Tapping benefits have been seen to not only reduce stress and anxiety but also to address weight loss struggles, body confidence issues, financial and parenting stress, and PTSD. Alex walks the audience through a live tapping session and provides essential resources and tools for parents to learn more about tapping and how to incorporate it into their family’s routine for the greatest results.
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What is Tapping?
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) = A technique that combines ancient Chinese acupressure, by tapping on different points of the body and modern psychology by the words said during the process
- This process can reduce stress and anxiety by tapping on different energy meridian points to stimulate the body and calm the amygdala, the stress center of the brain
Incorporating Daily Tapping Routines
- First, model tapping techniques as a parent
- For children, habitual routines such as adding tapping into morning and evening routines are a great approach
- Teaching tapping as a tool that children/teens can utilize on their own as a first-aid response for themselves
Teaching Tapping To Children
- Alex’s Book ‘Gorilla Thumps & Bear Hugs’, brings an interactive and fun approach to teaching tapping to kids
- 9 main points:
- “Karate chop point” – on the side of the hand
- “Hairy Eyebrow Point” – inside the eyebrow
- “Eagle Eye Point” – side of the eye
- “Lion Cry Point” – under the eye
- “Dragon Fire Point” – under the nose
- “Wolves Howling Point” – on the chin
- “Gorilla Thump Point” – beat your chest like a big, proud gorilla
- “Bear Hug Point” – giving yourself a bear hug
- “Monkey Point” – top of the head
- 9 main points:
Where to learn more about Alex Ortner…
Episode Intro … 00:00:30
What is Tapping? … 00:03:10
Incorporating Tapping Into Your Routine… 00:15:40
Teaching Tapping To Children … 00:25:35
Live Tapping Session With Alex … 00:33:40
Episode Wrap Up … 00:46:05
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Hi everyone, welcome to the show, I am Dr. Nicole, and on today’s show, we’re talking about a very practical approach to reducing stress and anxiety for children and adults. The timing of this couldn’t be better as we can all benefit from some additional stress reduction during this time of just a lot of change and upheaval from our normal routines. If you have not heard of the Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT, it’s a method that combines the benefits of things like acupuncture, acupressure and psychological principles to support reduction in things like stress, anxiety, pain — and it’s sometimes also referred to as ‘tapping’. So today, I’m really excited to have Alex Ortner on the show to teach us about tapping and how to use it with our children, ourselves and our families. Let me tell you a bit about Alex.
He is is the Chief Marketing Officer and co-owner, along with his brother Nick and sister Jessica — I love that it’s a family affair here, of The Tapping Solution, LLC, a company with a mission to bring into the mainstream a simple, effective, natural healing method known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or ‘Tapping’. He is a speaker, author, entrepreneur, and marketing expert who has produced first-of-their-kind online programs like The Tapping World Summit, which has been attended by over 3 million people, and The Tapping Solution App, which features easy to follow Tapping Meditations and has over 1.8 million meditation plays. We’re going to talk about that later because I was on it recently and it’s an amazing app. Alex is also the co-founder of The Tapping Solution Foundation, which aids trauma survivors such as genocide survivors in Rwanda, war veterans and those affected by school shootings, such as the one in his hometown of Sandy Hook, Connecticut. He’s a father of three, author of the children’s book “Gorilla Thumps and Bear Hugs: A Tapping Solution Children’s Story” and speaks to teachers and students through his foundation on how to use Tapping to create balance, relieve stress and get better results in the classroom. Alex, so great to have you here.
It is so good to be here. You know what, I caught something when you were saying that, that if there isn’t a better piece of proof that tapping works, it’s that I work with my brother and sister and we get along! We’ve done lots of tapping through the years, and I think that’s good proof. I had never thought about that before, but the fact that I work with two siblings, and have for 13 years now — actually, with my brother for almost 20 year in the business before that. I think that is proof that the tapping is working.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
I totally agree, and I think our listeners can relate to that and kudos to all three of you, it’s a unique thing for sure and just amazing what you’re doing. I want to dive in because EFT, tapping — some of our listeners may be familiar with it, some of them may not. Let’s start with the basics of what this is.
Sure. So the tapping, otherwise known as EFT, is Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s a technique that combines ancient Chinese acupressure, so literally tapping on different points of the body, with modern psychology, with the words that we say in that process. It’s an extremely powerful technique in that it actually helps to rewire the way the brain and the body act and react to external stimulus in our life, and it helps us to rewire things from our past, and it has just amazing benefits that we’ll talk about here in terms of stress reduction, anxiety reduction, it’s used for weight loss, body confidence, financial stress, and it’s used, as we’ll talk about today, for parents and for kids to be able to deal with the stress and the overwhelm of parenting, which I’m a parent of three, a 7, 9 and 11 year-old — it’s the toughest job I have ever taken on in my life. Not something that comes with a manual, nobody told me it would be that hard, and even if they’d warned me, I wouldn’t have believed them. Something you have to experience. And also for kids, because kids are under such tremendous pressure nowadays that it’s crazy. I mean, you can read studies on how depression, anxiety, suicide — all those rates have gone up astronomically for kids in the last 20 years because of all the social pressure they have. I can’t imagine being, for example, a high schooler with social media today. I mean I felt left out in high school before social media, so I can’t imagine what it’s like today.
So yeah, tapping is a technique that we use to reduce our stress and anxiety by literally tapping on these different energy meridian points in the body, where we stimulate the body and it calms the amygdala in the brain, which is the stress center of the brain.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And what I love about it is it fits so well with what we talk about a lot on this show, which is the brain-body connection. And so often, when I see kids in the clinic, or even parents for that matter, they’ve been to more of the kinds of counseling and therapies for stress and anxiety reduction that focus on what I call top-down, they’re just focused on the brain part of it, the talking through things, the cognitive strategies, those kinds of things. And those can certainly be useful, but where we really see the magic happen is when we also work on a bottom-up approach of bringing the body into it as well. That’s what I love about tapping, is it combines both of those things in such a simple way that’s doable. And it’s one of the strategies that we have our body, we have our fingers, we have that with us everywhere we go. So you don’t need special equipment, tools — kids and adults can be empowered to use this wherever they are.
Yeah, I could not agree with you more, and I think I love the book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’, which is about trauma, which talks about how very much our emotions are stored in our body, and we can cognitively think about creating change, we can cognitively want to create change, but it’s not just what we think about. It’s our body and what is wired in there from our past, from our childhood, from all these experiences that we’ve had. So what tapping does is it does exactly that, it brings the body into the equation here and allows us to release these traumas, these emotions, these things that hold us back, not only in our brain, but also in our body. I think there’s a huge component of tapping, is to bring the body into the healing process.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Absolutely. So some people might be wondering: Okay, this sounds cool. What’s the evidence base for this, what’s the research behind it?” Because whenever, even in the clinic, when I’m talking with families about tools like this, it’s like, well, it kind of sounds like may that’s too good to be true, woo-woo, can’t really work. So let’s talk about the science of this.
Sure. I mean I’ll start off a little bit with the history because I think it’s fascinating that we didn’t discover tapping or originate it. It started originally in 1979, a guy by the name of Roger Callahan, was a therapist and he was working with a woman with water phobia and had just struggled with her for like a year to get any kind of progress, and then one night, he was reading about these ancient Chinese acupressure points, acupuncture points and remembered reading that the under the eye point was associated with the stomach. When he worked with her, he was asking her, “What are you feeling?”, she was like, “Oh I’m feeling this nausea in my stomach.” He just thought to himself, “Well, why don’t we just tap here?” And he was tapping there and all of a sudden, her water phobia was gone. He had a pool in the back of his office, it was his home office — and they went out there and it was gone. And so all of a sudden, he connected the fact that there was something here that was going on. And from that point on, it was developed into the official EFT or Tapping in the 1980s by a man named Gary Craig, but for years, for decades, it was really passed around because it worked. There wasn’t the scientific research behind it, there wasn’t all this kind of stuff, but it did get passed around because people had these experiences and saw how effective it was. But it’s really been in the last 5 years or so, especially, where we put a lot of effort on the science and research. I can’t say it’s us. There are amazing people, the PhDs and the doctors who have done amazing research.
But really, what the latest research is showing is that when we tap on these different points of our body, and they are specific points of our body that it sends a calming signal to the amygdala of the brain. And the amygdala of the brain is that fight or flight response center of the brain. So much of our life today is triggering that amygdala. When you think about historically thousands of years ago, it was a super important part of our brain. If we were out in the wild and the tall grass moves and we think, oh there is a tiger there and we have to react quickly — blood has to flow to our arms and limbs and we have to escape.
So it was a super important part in the development of our brain, but now in our modern day and age, it’s no longer a fight or flight response in reality — it’s things like an email somebody sent, something that somebody said, worrying about “Am I going to have enough money or enough food,” or “Is my kid going to be okay?” It’s all these mental things, all these external pressures and internal pressures that we put on ourselves that are constantly triggering that fight or flight response. And the challenge with that is that it has a huge detrimental effect on our ability to think clearly, because when that fight or flight response is triggered, the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain which is the modern part of our brain where we think, we make good decisions, we think about future outcomes. All those things, they just go offline.
This is why when a person is struggling with stress or anxiety, they turn to food, eat all this food, and all of a sudden the food works to calm us down because it’s a poor treatment way to deal with anxiety. All of a sudden you calm down and you go, “What did I do? How in the world did I do that?” Because you weren’t thinking. It’s because that part of your brain was shut off. And at the same time, when that amygdala is triggered, all sorts of hormones are going through our body, with the stress response, we are in a stress response, not a relaxation response. So digestion slows down, the immune system goes into hibernation, almost, the reproductive system goes down. So all these things are triggered by the amygdala because in the moment, when thousands of years ago, when that tiger is chasing us, it doesn’t matter if we fight a cancer cell or not. It’s irrelevant in the body, so our body changes.
But the amazing part is with the tapping, when tap on these different points in the body, it shows that it sends this calming signal to the amygdala of the brain and lets it know that it’s safe. It can relax. And there are so many amazing research studies that have been done on this. I’ll give you a really great one around food that shows that this one study showed a group of women. I forget the number of women, but it showed them having brain scans. And while they were having the brain scan, they would show them food that they have cravings for. And you’d see in the brain scans different parts of the brain that would light up. And then after an 8-week period of doing tapping with professionals, they go back, they do the same brain scans, looking at the food and the brain is no longer lighting up.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
It is literally changing the way our brain is wired and the way I look at it is that it not only reduces the stress and the anxiety and calms us down in the moment so that we feel better in that moment, but it allows us to actually rewire the brain so that those triggers no longer come up.
What happens a lot of times with food and food cravings is that all of a sudden people go, “I didn’t even think about food, it just wasn’t coming up for me. I wasn’t stressed or anxious, I wasn’t thinking about the food.” So it rewires the way our brain acts and reacts, and all of the research is showing just amazing results with things like PTSD. We do a lot of our work with veterans. It was approved by the VA in 2017, it’s super powerful in how it’s allowing veterans to take control of their life back when they’ve been triggered by these really tough situations, it’s some of the work we do with our foundation.
Also, we’ve done work without foundations with first responders, parents who have lost kids from school shootings — and it’s been really powerful to see, really to give people the ability to have their life back. And I like to point out those circumstances because I go, well, if people can use tapping on some of the toughest situations in life like war or school shootings or things like that, then for the rest of us who are dealing with their everyday stress and anxiety, yeah, no big deal. It can absolutely help to help with those things in allowing us to calm down that amygdala, to rewire our brains and really just to allow ourselves to be ourselves, because so often it’s not that we’re not smart enough or that we’re not good parents or that we’re not capable — it’s that prefrontal cortex, which is who we are, it goes offline and that old reptilian part of the brain takes over and we are just run by our unconscious brain. And so the more that we can calm that, the more we allow ourselves to be ourselves. It’s not that in those bad moments that that’s who we are, it’s just that we’re not in control of those moments. So the tapping allows us to take control of our life back and to take control of our brain and our body back.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Absolutely. And where we see that come up a lot with kids, I know a lot of parents listening can relate obviously to what you’re saying for themselves and for their children. Where I see this is those of you listening who have kids who you sort of describe as going from 0-100 like instantly — it’s like the slightest thing and their brain is like this well-worn path that goes right into that fight or flight or even that freeze mode. And what’s so nice about a tool like this is as you’re describing it, it not only helps in the moment, catching that process in the moment before it starts to run away with itself, but it also helps over time to rewire that so that these kids who go from 0-100 in two seconds, that is not such a well-worn path anymore, and they develop, over time, more of that space where they can think about what’s happening to them and be in the moment as opposed to just instantly being in that fight or flight mode.
Totally. And I have seen that. I’ve got three kids and like most of us parents, our kids are different, each of our kids are different. And I can see the differences in how my kids will react to external circumstances. And one of them, my oldest, will go from 0-10 really quickly. My middle one tends to be calmer about things. He actually happens to be the one who taps the most with me, out of my three kids. But it does allow us, with our kids, to use the tapping and to allow them to relax in those moments, but also more importantly to rewire, so they don’t go from 0-10 as quickly as they would have. So when you really develop a practice of it, it allows them to rewire the way their brain is reacting to all those things, because it’s the little things that can trigger a kid to be stressed out, overwhelmed, especially with how much stimulus they have in society right now.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Absolutely. It seems like it’s more and more of a pressure cooker for kids all the time, as you were describing. To be a teen now, a lot of my clinical caseload at this point is teens and young adults, and I often say exactly what you said. Being a teenager is hard enough, and then you put it into the mix of what’s going on in the world today. None of us would want to go back and relive those years now. It’s just hard. But kids are asking, they’re wanting tools to support themselves, right? They want things that they can have in their back pocket, so to speak, to manage those things. Because when they become aware of things that kind of trigger them or become aware of those sensations within them, for them to be able to quickly have something that they can use is just a great, empowering thing for them. So I’m curious for you to share — you’ve kind of touched on this, but what are some of the ways that even you with your own children, or when you’re teaching parents and schools to use this: What are some of the ways that parents and kids can think about incorporating this into their lives or making use of this?
So a couple of important things here. Number one is using it as a parent. For me, with tapping with parents and kids, it’s always the airplane example of you put the air mask on yourself before you put it on your kids, because so much of parenting is about modeling and showing them good behavior and showing them how we express our emotions and all those kinds of things, as opposed to telling them. It never works well to tell your kids one thing and then go and do the other thing, because they will follow what you do and not what you say.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
We have to be a model for emotional and behavioral regulation ourselves if we want to expect our kids to do it and we talk about that a lot on the show, and it’s hard for some people to hear, but it is a fundamental truth to being a parent whether your kids has special needs or not, we have to be a model of that emotional and behavioral regulation. We have to manage ourselves well first.
Right, and I would say if you want to solve 90% of the challenges you’re having with your kids, it’s going to be by solving the challenges you’re having with yourself and how you’re reacting to the different circumstances that we deal with as parents. Because it’s not easy. You can have the best children in the world and it still, sometimes I joke around, it feels like the drunk friend that you had in college that you were trying to take care of, where you were like, “Oh my God, why is this person so drunk?” That’s what little kids are like. They constantly do things that can drive you crazy. No matter how amazing your kids are, they’re kids. And so we have to have that ability to self-regulate and monitor our own emotions and how we react to different things and to be able to stay calm and to model that for our kids.
So I always recommend first and foremost: Use the tapping on yourself, on the regular challenges that we have as parents, which are the stress we have about work, the stress we have about parenting, the overwhelm we have about trying to manage it all, about trying to work and exercise and take care of our kids and wanting the best for our kids and constantly comparing ourselves to other parents on Facebook and Instagram, which is the worst thing in the world because it’s just so fake to me about what people post on there. I’m guilty of it too. My wife and I love to post things about kids and our family life, but I always like to put little notes on there on my posts, being like, “Hey, just so you know, this is not real life.” My kids still will drive me crazy. They still want to argue, they still want to buy things every two minutes, they still want to fight with each other. But we use the tapping for ourselves to calm ourselves down and also we use it with our kids as well.
So that’s how we use it first, with ourselves as parents, always recommend doing that first. Because also, you’re just not going to be as gung-ho about getting your kids to do it if you don’t realize and experience it for yourself. That’s what I say about tapping: The reason why it got passed along for so long before the science and research was because it worked, people had an experience of feeling better. So when you start to use it as a parent, and you start to all of a sudden feel better and have less stress and have less overwhelm, all of a sudden, those things with your kids don’t trigger you as much and you’re able to be a better parent.
Now when it comes to using it for kids, I know for my kids, the best things are the habitual things that you do. It’s morning tapping, it’s evening tapping — I’ll also point out that these are things I recommend for adults. I have a morning practice and I have an evening practice. I think the easiest one for kids is having a bedtime routine that involves tapping. It is just allowing them to decompress from the day to process those things that they might not have processed during the day because they were either at school — not nowadays, not now at least, but they were dealing with school, even the school from home right now. So allowing them to process those emotions that they might not have processed during the day, and then also in the morning just coming to the day. I’ll tell you right now, with our homeschooling with our kids, we use tapping in the morning, we used tapping in the morning to set the intention to release any morning bickering we have between the siblings, and to set the tone. Release those negative emotions and to set the tone of what kind of energy and focus we want to bring to the day.
Super powerful for that because when we’re able to calm that amygdala down, just like we talked about before, their prefrontal cortex comes back online. So if we want our kids to learn well in school, whether it’s in school or at home school, we need to first have them be in a state where they can learn. This is a major challenge with school in general, when kids bring a lot of stress and anxiety to school, they’re sitting there — and I remember this as a kid myself, being somebody who had social anxiety and that I spent way too much time paying attention to other people and not to my actual work, not to actual schooling that I was doing. And I was always — even when I got to college, I was always somebody who learned well by being by myself because of that anxiety that I had about just paying attention or worrying about the social aspects of schooling. So that morning routine, that evening routine are the easiest ways to include tapping in your life to create and control those emotions — and also just as a first-aid kit so that when those things come up during the day, and you know, when a kid is having that meltdown, which ordinarily takes 45 minutes for them sometimes to let go of the simplest things — to use that tapping to calm them down. And I will say — I don’t want to paint a picture like I said, of oh I just tap with my kids and it’s always easy and they always want to tap, they always do the tapping with me. No, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes my kids will not do tapping. They just won’t do it. The funny thing is that a lot of time with adults when they’re stressed and anxious is when they don’t want to do it, ugh. I know with me and my wife, we both do tapping. If one of us is stressed out and the other goes “Why don’t you do some tapping?”, it’s like, “Ugh, okay, I guess so.” It can be the reaction that we have at times.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Especially for kids, right? Now I don’t want to do it because my mom or dad told me that I should do it right now.
Exactly. Which is one of the reasons we’ve worked on our app and we can talk about that because we want to be able to have something where the kids can go do it on their own and have that resource to access it on their own, as opposed to having it be that the parents are telling them to do it, especially when you get into that middle school and high school age. The kids don’t even want the parents to know that they’re doing it. They don’t want anybody to know that they’re doing it. They want to be able to solve problems in their own world because they’re embarrassed or nervous to share those different things with other people. So those are some of the different ways that I recommend using tapping for parents and for kids as well.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And I think it’s such a good point to start out with some routines around it, like the bedtime routine, because the worst time to start any strategy for stress and anxiety reduction is when we’re in the midst of the stressful or anxiety-provoking situation, right? So some of these parents are like, “Oh I tried to use the breathing or the tapping or the whatever and it didn’t work.” It’s like, well let’s talk about how you used it — oh, they tried to jump right into using it in the midst of really difficult moments, and instead, I love what you’re saying, what we really want to do is start to practice with it and build those routines at times when they’re not overly anxious, stressed out, worked up because then it makes it more useful when we can use it, and the moment they’re able to track with that and do it better because they’re grounded in some experience of it at times when they weren’t all worked up.
Yeah, and they could understand it, again, their brain working to understating why they might want to do it. And I recommend introducing it differently to different aged kids. So for example with young kids, I love using my kids’ book, and more importantly the way I teach tapping in my kids’ book, which we’ll talk about in a minute because I use animals on the points and things like that. And then when it comes to teenagers, that’s when it’s great to talk about how athletes use it, how celebrities use it, how war veterans use it. You’ve got to make it a little bit cool to make it interesting, to be like, oh people use this for peak performance, they use it to be less stressed and anxious, not some woo-woo thing. No, it’s something that people you admire are using. So there are different ways to introduce it to different ages, but you want to do that in the moments where they’re not stressed out, they’re not anxious so they can kind of process it and have it as a tool for when they are in those moments. And I’ve had it at times when my kids are having an issue and they don’t tap, and I’ve had times where they come to me, saying “I want to tap”. It happens a lot of the time in the night time. If one of my kids had a tough day, they’ll say, “I want to tap”. For me as a parent, I’m like, “Yes!” I’m so excited when they want to do that because it’s showing that it’s in them to know that hey, when I do this, I feel better. And I’ve heard it from so many parents who have said to me — they taught their kids tapping, but what they loved was when the next day or a week later, their kids came to them and said, “Hey, can I do that tapping?” So, super important.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
That’s when you know that something has taken hold and it’s working, you know that kids are experiencing a difference when they’re asking to do that. I want to go back to what you said, let’s dive into a little bit about how you do that with younger children, and particularly younger children or even developmentally younger children because we’ve got a lot of listeners who may have children chronologically who are older, but developmentally are younger. So I love what you’re talking about with incorporating the animals and things from the book. So how do you approach that?
You can get the book, I will mention that I don’t like to come and just pitch things, but all the proceeds from the book go to our Tapping Solution Foundation, so it goes to helping get it into schools. We will donate that book to an entire elementary school to give it to every kid. And we’ve sent 500 books to schools before lots of times. It helps for the work we do with war veterans, with PTSD — so lots of amazing things there. So the way I teach it with kids is with the different animal points. And I will say that the funny thing about my kids’ book, the biggest criticism I get when I get a 1-star review on Amazon — it’s always from people that know tapping, they go, “Well, the tapping wasn’t long enough, you didn’t fully address the issues” and things like that, and I go, “I’m not trying to do that here. What I’m trying to do is introduce tapping to kids in a fun way, where they come away from a children’s book enjoying it and going, “I want to do this again”, because I know and the reason I wrote it that way is because I had read personal development kids’ books where my kids read it once and they had no interest in reading it again. And as a parent, you know there is that one book or two books where they want to read it for 30 days straight, they just want to read that book over and over and over again. So that was always my goal with the kids’ book to say “How can I make this fun and interesting so that the kids want to do it again with the parents?”
So the different points, I’ll go through the different points with how we teach it with kids and we’ll learn it as adults too this way. So the first point is on the side of the hand, called the Karate Chop point. It was always called the Karate Chop point, it’s a fun point for kids as well, but it was always named the Karate Chop point as well. And for kids, I like to point out — if you can think about karate chopping a board and you go “Hayyah!”, it’s that point on the side of the hand. So that’s where we’re able to start off and we’ll start off with the set up statement, which we’ll go through in just a minute, but we’ll go through the points first. The next point is the eyebrow point. So it’s on the inside of the eyebrow, you can go either side, you can use two hands or one hand, it doesn’t matter which side. And for kids, we call this the Hairy Eyebrow point, because we like to imagine really big long eyebrows like branches and birds coming and landing on them and singing to make us feel better. Right? So then the next point is on the side of the eye, again either eye, and we call this the Eagle Eye point for kids because we like to imagine that we’re eagles with really amazing vision so that we can see the challenge or problem that we’re experiencing a little bit differently. The next point is the Under-the-Eye point — again, either side or one side and this is called the Lion Cry point, because it reminds us that even if you’re as tough as a lion, it’s still okay to cry and process your emotions. The next point is under the nose and we call this the Dragon Fire point, because here we like to imagine that we’re a dragon breathing out that hot fire and we can actually feel it on our hands as we breathe. We’re breathing out the challenges or the negative emotions that we’re feeling as we tap. The next one is on the chin point, we call this the Wolves’ Howling point, because as we tap here, we’ll actually go “Awooooo!” and imagine we’re a wolf and were howling those emotions away.
So I’m sure you can imagine, kids love doing these different points and kind of making the sounds as well. The next point is the collarbone point. So for adults we just think of the collarbone and you go down an inch and and out an inch — and with kids, we call this the Gorilla Thump point, you just beat on your chest like you’re a big, proud gorilla and they love doing that as well, and you can get it to hit a lot. It’s easier to not miss the point when you’re tapping all around, right? The next point is the underarm point, it’s about the bra line for women, and here, you can as an adult — whichever you just tap with one or the other but with kids, they can do both and we call this the bear hug point, because we just imagine giving ourselves a really big bear hug and letting ourselves know that we’re okay. The next point is the top of the head, and we call this the Monkey point because we pretend we’re a monkey going “Ooh, ooh, ooh, aah, ahh, ahh” and we can tap all around here, there are lots of different points on the top of the head. And those are the 9 different main points. And it’s really fun for kids to remember it. I love that after I released my kids’ book, I had all sorts of adults going — “Oh I finally remember the points. I get the points!”
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
I was going to say whether they want to admit it or not, a lot of adults were like, yeah, okay, I got it now.
Totally. And what I love when I speak, I’ll do a talk in front of the school and I’ll go through the different points and then afterwards, I go, “Okay what was this one here?” And they’re like, “Oh that was the Eagle Eye point! I remember that one!” So the point to make it fun for the kids to remember. And again, remember, the first time we’re teaching the young kids, we’re not concerned with “Are we addressing the issue, are we going into it?” We’re just going, how do we make this fun so they want to enjoy it or want to keep doing it. So you’re building an association in the mind of, “Hey, tapping on these points is fun! And it’s helpful and I want to do it!” So that makes it so that when you’re actually tapping on a challenge you’re facing, you can go through the different points. And when I do tap with a kid, with my kids or any kids, I don’t sit there going Eagle Eye point, Lion Cry point — I’ll just go side of the eye, under the eye, because at that point, I don’t really want to distract them with the animal points and making them think about the animal. I want them to be focused on the challenge or the emotion that they’re feeling in that moment. But I want to introduce it to them with the animal points so they have a good association to what we’re doing. For me, I love — I say that kind of came through me, that idea to have the animal points, but I love it because kids can really connect with it and associate with it. Yeah, the adults kind of like it too, so that’s kind of fun too.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Yeah! That’s awesome. It’s fantastic. So those are the points that we’re working with. Will you take us through one? All of us as parents and listeners? Take us through what one of these tapping sessions looks like.
So let’s go ahead and take a deep breath in, and breathe out. I always joke, I do live masterclasses for one of my memberships. And I always joke around because I’m a very fast talker, and as soon as I get to the tapping, I go, okay — I’ve got to slow it down, slow myself down a little bit. So let’s take another deep breath in and breathe out. And let’s just think about what we’re experiencing as parents right now. There’s a lot going on in the world with the coronavirus right now, there’s a lot of stress and anxiety about work, about money — a lot of people have lost their jobs, they’re concerned about food and the food chain, they’re worried about the experience that their kids are having right now. There’s a lot of stress and anxiety parents are experiencing, worrying about their kids because they’re not going to school. Are they doing a good enough job as a parent? How can they manage all these things? On top of the regular stress we have, now we have to become teachers? I mean how grateful are we all for teachers now because now we have to be the teachers? We’re like no, let’s send them back to those teachers, right?
It’s important to tune into the emotion that we’re feeling and kind of this stress and anxiety that we’ve been feeling and the overwhelm and just kind of notice it. Do you feel that stress or anxiety in your body? Is it a tension in your chest? Is it a queasiness in your stomach? Is it a tightness in your shoulders or your back? As we said before, our emotions aren’t just in our heads, they’re expressed in our body. It’s why there are so many autoimmune challenges now, health challenges because of the fact that we hold all this stress and anxiety in our body, and we just tighten up and we hold and it literally causes physical pain in our body. So let’s just notice where that is right now in our body and let’s just measure that from 0-10. You don’t have to say it, but anybody listening, just notice on a level of 0-10, how strong that stress, anxiety or overwhelm is for you? 10 would be you’re super overwhelmed, stressed out or anxious. A lot of times with anxiety, I like to think of 10 as an anxiety attack. I’ve not had many in my life, but I’ve had a few anxiety attacks in my life, typically, I woke up in the middle of the night with an anxiety attack and it’s worse. It is miserable.
I know a lot of people struggle with anxiety attacks on a daily basis. And then there’s the opposite of that, a 0 would be like no. No anxiety, I may as well be laying on a beach in the Carribean because that is how relaxed I am right now. We just measure ourselves from 0-10, there are no right or wrong answers, really just about feeling where we are in that moment. Once we have that measurement, we feel where we are in our body, we can start doing the tapping. We’ll start on the Karate Chop point. When we start with the Karate Chop point, we use what is called with the setup statement. The setup statement goes like this: It goes, “Even though _____”, and then we fill in the blank, and when we fill in that blank, that’s with whatever emotion we’re feeling, whatever challenge we’re feeling, or what limiting belief we recognize in ourselves, whatever that might be.
So we say, “Even though ________” and we fill in the blank, and the original statement from tapping was “I love and accept myself anyway.” So “Even though _______, I love and accept myself anyway”. That language has changed a lot of times because I know a lot of times people struggle with saying I love and accept myself” because depending on your childhood and your own beliefs of self-worth or self-love, that can be a challenging statement to say. So a lot of times we might say, “Even though ________, I acknowledge how I am feeling right now.” We might say, “I acknowledge and accept what I’m feeling right now.” So we might start off with softer language because it really is so often our inability to acknowledge and accept the emotions that we’re feeling that keep us stuck. We want to change something, we’re not acknowledging that we’re depressed or we’re sad or we’re overwhelmed, whatever that might be.
So just acknowledging what we’re feeling, it gives us power back to actually release it and then move forward in creating that change. When we stuff down those emotions, they don’t go away, they just stay trapped. We want to allow them to come up temporarily so we can release them and move forward. So we do that tapping statement on the Karate Chop point three times, then we’ll actually move to the different points on the body. Here, typically, if you’re doing it on your own, you might just use a reminder statement like, “So overwhelmed, all this stress, I’m so overwhelmed”. That’s a simple way to do it, as we’ll do it here together, you can follow along and repeat what I say, and we’ll go through just a different process. So I’ll tap, and then you can repeat after me, and any listener can repeat it with you as we go along. Yeah?
So let’s go ahead and take another deep breath in and breathe out, and again, just connect with what you’re feeling. We want to be able to feel what we’re feeling and release it with the tapping. And we’ll start, “Even though I have all this stress and anxiety, because of what’s going on in the world right now, I acknowledge and accept what I’m feeling. Even though I am so overwhelmed as a parent and I have so much to manage, I acknowledge and accept what I’m feeling right now. Even though I am so overwhelmed by trying to manage my business or job, and being a good parent and teacher now, I love and accept myself anyway.” And we’ll go to the eyebrow point “All this overwhelm.” Side of the eye, “I don’t know how to handle it”. Side of the eye, “There’s so much going on in the world right now”. Under the nose, “And I’m a little scared.” Chin point, “Maybe I’m a lot scared”. Collarbone point, “It’s a lot for anyone to manage”. Under the arm, “And it’s even tougher when you have kids too.” Top of the head, “Because we have to manage their emotions.” Eyebrow points, “And try to do the best we can for them.” Side of the eye, “I just want to be a good parent.” Under the eye, “And do the best I can for them”. Under the nose, “So I choose to relax in this moment.” Chin point, “And allow myself to breathe”. Collarbone point, “Allow myself to be still in this moment.” Under the arm, “Taking it one day at a time.” Top of the head, “I’m doing the best that I can.” Eyebrow point, “And sometimes, that doesn’t feel like enough.” Side of the eye, “But that’s okay.” Under the eye, “I give myself permission to relax now.” Under the nose, “Knowing I’m doing the best that I can,” Chin point, “We’re all doing the best that we can.” Collarbone point, “My brain has been fighting hard to protect me.” Under the arm, “But I give it permission to relax now.” Top of the head, “I can relax my brain and body.” Eyebrow point, “Knowing I’m safe right now.” Side of the eye, “My brain is trying to keep me safe.” Under the eye, “And I choose to let it know it’s safe.” Under the nose, “I’ll solve one problem at a time.” Chin point, “One challenge at a time.” Collarbone point, “And I’ll be okay.” Under the arm, “And my kids will be okay.” Top of the head, “Because we’re all in this together.
Let’s stop there and take a deep breath in, and breathe out. And just notice what you’re feeling, allow yourself to be still for a moment. It’s great to just kind of feel into your body, notice how your legs feel, how your arms feel — and just notice whatever tension or stress you were feeling in your body before, maybe you had that tension in your chest or that queasiness in your stomach or just that tightness throughout your whole body, just notice if that’s changed at all, notice if that’s shifted or if you’ve relaxed more. Now what we want to do is go ahead and measure ourselves again on that 0-10 score, where again, 10 was really anxious and 0 was that we’re not anxious at all. So just for yourself, notice if you were at 8 before, have you moved to a 6 or maybe a 4? Or maybe you’re all the way down to a 2 or a 1. There’s no right or wrong answer. You might have even gone up. Sometimes we go up a little bit. It’s not that the tapping isn’t working, it’s that we’re getting clarity about something else that’s stressing us. So we might have been at an 8 and as we were doing the tapping and we were thinking about our kids, all of a sudden something triggered and now we’re at a 9. All that does is give us feedback to go, “Oh, you know what? that’s what we need to focus on with the tapping. Now let’s do another round on tapping and focusing on all of the stress and anxiety we have about our kids. So it’s all just feedback. I know a lot of times people want to say, “I’m better!” But you don’t have to tell me that you’re better. Just notice in your body what you’re feeling. Most of the time, people go down. But if you don’t go down or go up, it’s just feedback to let us know — “Hey is there something else that I need to focus on here that’s the real issue that I need to connect with and tap on and allow myself to release?”
So as we were doing the tapping there, what did you feel?
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Absolutely so grounding and relaxing. I’m sitting here now, sort of like “Ahhh…”.
Anytime I do an interview, after I do the tapping, all of a sudden I’m more chilled out!
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Right, just “Ahh, let’s just sit here and…” But it is, and that’s why I’m so glad to do this together for the listeners to get the feel of it because once you experience it and you just feel yourself go “Ahhh…”, that’s a profound effect and that gives us motivation then to use it. So often, I can speak for myself as a therapist, we give people tools, then we say they’re non-compliant, they’re not using it, but usually it’s because they don’t notice something with it. They’re not feeling motivated to practice with this, when you get that feeling of just settling, but even sometimes the emotion does go up and that is such important information. Sometimes it increases because we’re letting ourselves become aware for the first time of what’s really going on in us. That’s a wonderful thing too. It just feels really good.
One thing I would point out too is that sometimes people can be resistant to it, because they go, “Well I need to be vigilant right now. I don’t want to be less stressed or anxious. I can’t let my guard down because then I might get hurt or I might not be on guard.” But the reality is that again, when we think about making the best decisions for ourselves, for our families, for our kids — when that prefrontal cortex is offline, we’re not making the best decisions for our family. We’re making decisions out of fear, out of worry, out of anxiety. And at the same time, we’re at a time right now where there’s a lot of fear and anxiety about our health. And if you want to be taking care of your health, if you want to be there for your kids and not have the Coronavirus have as big of an impact on you if you do get it, it’s so important to be able to boost your immune system, and the way you do that is by de-stressing, is by releasing that anxiety because not only does it allow your immune system to come back online, it also allows you to sleep better. That’s a big component of this, it’s that when people are stressed out or anxious, they’re not sleeping. And if you’re not sleeping, your body is not getting a chance to rejuvenate, to heal, to be in that healing state so that you can do your best for your family.
So recognizing that no, that vigilance is not serving me right now. I know that’s what it feels like I should be doing, that I have to stay vigilant, but the reality is that by reducing it, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be aware, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be attuned to it. That system is still there. You can be totally relaxed, a fire alarm goes off, you’re still going to react. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be prepared, but it means you’re going to be able to make better decisions on those moments on how to react to all the different things going on in life. So I just can’t stress it enough that it is so important to use a technique like tapping to bring ourselves down to a more relaxed state, because most people also don’t recognize that — they may go, “Oh, you know what? I’m not super stressed or super anxious.” Typically people don’t realize until they go on vacation, and all of a sudden on vacation — it takes a couple of days but after a couple of days, you’re like, “Oh my God, I was so stressed and anxious”. But what people don’t realize is the difference between living life at a level 6 or 7 of anxiety or stress, which you can totally function, you can totally do things.
But there is a difference between living your life there or living it at even a 4 or a 5 or a 3. It’s a different quality of life, in terms of not only your ability to be more productive at work or make better decisions for your kids and be healthier but also just in your general enjoyment of life. You can bring down that stress and anxiety, you can enjoy life more fully, be more present with yourself, and be more present with your kids. That, for me, is one of the number one reasons to do the tapping as a parent is so that we can be more present with our kids, because it’s not that kids want presents, they want our presence. They want us to be there, they want to know that they are safe, because our kids model our behavior and they model how we feel. Most parents, I was actually reading — we have a parents and kids book, a study by an American psychological association, with like a thousand parents, and those parents said — I actually wrote it down.
69% of parents think that their stress and anxiety doesn’t affect their kids, 91% of those kids said they can recognize when their parents are stressed out. And those kids who could recognize that their parents are stressed out were way more likely to have sadness, depression, worry and be stressed and anxious themselves. So it is so important that we allow ourselves as parents to do this first for ourselves because it will have an immediate impact on all of our children.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Beautiful. So well-said. Let’s talk about where people can get more information. Let’s talk about the app, the books, the website, everything.
Yeah, awesome. We’ve got tons of resources. We have maybe about 10 different books. I don’t want to overwhelm people with where to go. The number one thing I always recommend is getting our tapping solution app because it is the simplest and easiest way to access this, there’s lots of free information in there, you can literally go to the App Store if you have an iPhone or Google Play if you’re on Android, just look up the tapping solution and you will download the app. It’s free. Normally there are free and there is paid in there, but there are lots of free stuff in each category. Right now, with everything that’s going on, we created this whole Coronavirus Anxiety section which has something like 20+ tapping meditations right now.
Really, what we’re trying to do right now is just help people with what’s going on right now. So many people right now are just saying — How can we help? How can we contribute to the solution and not the problem. And so there are lots of free resources in there where you don’t have to think about — Oh how do I do the tapping, what do I say? You just press play on a meditation — It’s a tapping meditation so it combines taping and meditation and you follow along, and you see the result. And the really cool thing is that our app also has data. Just like we measured with our tapping, before and after — the app does the same. So we’ve got all this amazing data to show that for example, our most listened to meditation is on anxiety. And with over 200,000 plays, on average in 9 minutes, it reduces anxiety by 41% across the board. It’s like, look, it works! The data is there to show that it works and that’s there on all these tapping meditations on all sorts of different issues. So I recommend getting the app, downloading it, there’s stuff in there for kids and I’m working to build out more and more stuff there for kids. And of course, I recommend, if you’ve got a young kid, getting my book Gorilla Thumps and Bear Hugs. Super easy book, just to introduce it to kids.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And that’s on your website, Amazon —
Website, Amazon, any of those places.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And what is the website? We’ll have all of these in the show notes for everybody to click on, but just for people who want to go there now — what’s the website?
The website is thetappingsolution.com
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
The website has so many great resources for those of you who want to delve a little bit more maybe into the mechanics, the science, all of that — that’s all there on the website. The books are amazing resources, I love the app. I think the app is such a user-friendly app, it’s so well-designed, and what I love about it is: Moms and dads who are listening, this is a tool for the whole family, so you can download it on your whole device and now you’ve got the tapping meditations on there that you can use, not only for yourself, but for your teenagers, for your little kids, you can use it for everybody, so just a really great tool, highly recommend that you go and grab that.
And one thing I would ask is: If you try it out and you like it, share it with other people, like please because there is just so much stress and anxiety and we are — I’m so incredibly passionate about this, because I know that in just minutes, people can feel better, so when you know you have a solution that can help people, you just want to tell everybody on the planet. And we want to be able to help people, you just want to tell everybody on the planet, and we want to be able to help people. To give you an idea, I know we mentioned this before we even got in the call, our active monthly users in our app, literally within the period of one month because of what’s going on, doubled. Now it’s not that our users doubled. It’s that our active monthly users doubled because people have so much stress and anxiety, they said, “Oh, I’ve got to open up this app. I’ve got to use it.” Again, the feedback we get from people, every single day about how it’s helping them to feel calm and balanced is just amazing. I’m just so grateful. I guess we didn’t invent tapping but we do everything we can to try to help get it out to the world. That’s been our mission from day one to make tapping accessible for every man, woman and child on the planet and I need everyone’s help. Try it for yourself, if you love it, please share it with other people.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Fantastic. And we are so appreciative that you came on the show today to share this with us, all of our listeners, they can share it now with their family and friends. Thank you so much, Alex. It’s been just a wonderful session.
Thank you, it was a privilege and an honor to be here with you and all of the amazing parents. Keep going! I know this time is tough, I’m sending you all my love, I feel your pain. Just know that helpfully our kids will be back in school one of these days.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
That’s right, we can do it, in the meantime! We can do it, right?
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And thanks to all of you for listening to this episode, we’ll catch you here next week on The Better Behavior show.