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EFT As A Ritual - Emergency Situations, Emergency Measures
Silvia Hartmann writes: ....I was still shaking but calm enough to start observing myself again, to note what I was doing and to have some conscious thought about it all and one of the very first thoughts I had was that I had engaged in the EFT “ritual” without a thought, when I was quite incapable of thought, automatically....
Added Aug 28, 2002 | 7,007 Reads
EFT As A Ritual – Emergency Situations, Emergency Measures
I had an interesting experience the other day.
I found myself in a situation which caused my emotional responses to “go
off the Richter scale” – I was extremely disturbed by an incident, so much
so that I was physically shaking and in shock.
I don’t particularly think that I was thinking at the time, just got away
from the situation as best I could and then, I started to tap.
Not intuitive shortcuts, not personalised algorithms. Not choices or gauges
or becoming one with the problem. Not any of the refinements or variations on
the theme – EFT as a ritual.
Even though I don’t understand this state I’m in, I deeply and profoundly
love and accept myself. Three times repeated, sore spot. Start tapping the
points, starting with the eyebrow.
Karate chop, then the gamut procedure. Count, sing, Count, do the eye
Back to the eyebrow point and all the way through once more, take a deep
I was still shaking but calm enough to start observing myself again, to note
what I was doing and to have some conscious thought about it all and one of the
very first thoughts I had was that I had engaged in the EFT “ritual” without
a thought, when I was quite incapable of thought, automatically.
And how useful that was, how profoundly useful indeed.
This was a true emergency procedure, being performed “without me doing
it”, and without having to think about it. Something you can just do and it
takes over because it is entrained, deeply learned, done so many times before
that it can be done automatically.
The basic EFT procedure had on many previous occasions served to take me out
of a state of deep stress at various levels and towards a calmer, more composed
place – there is a precedence, a FLOW into the direction away from disturbance
and towards clarity and calm.
This flow unfolds as the ritualised actions run their course; and as they run
their course, predictably from one thing to the other, one behaviour to the
next, one tapping point to the next, this structure in and of itself provides a
steadying influence and a lifeline when all seems to be chaotic, when all seems
to be out of control, when one has become overwhelmed with it all.
Rituals are used by humans in many different ways to this very end.
They do not just occur in a religious setting where the word might first make
connotations; ways of getting from a state of ordinary awareness into a state of
enhanced receptivity swiftly and smoothly, such as in ceremonies and
Rituals and ritual behaviours are used in many other ways, in many other
places. Drilling soldiers step by step in their every movement is such a device,
designed to create a state of mind that will allow someone to perform the
requisite actions under the most exacting of circumstances. People use “home
made” rituals of all kinds to keep themselves functioning when otherwise, they
would not – from compulsive hand washing to sitting behind a computer screen
for hours on end or staring at a fruit machine and a thousand more little
rituals all across the day.
Some people dislike ritualistic procedures and training methods on the
grounds that they would impede free will, turn someone into an automaton, but in
the case of severe emotional disturbance, that’s where we are already and
that, indeed, is a good time for automatically – like an automaton! –
engaging in a course of action that will restore Even Flow to the systems, that
will take one out of the chaos and into calmer waters by the very act of
performing the ritual.
I discussed this with a fellow therapist and she put forth the suggestion
that the first kind of therapy one might have learned would be the one that
would be chosen as “the ritual” in a crisis situation, but I disagreed with
this assertion after some thought.
A great many therapies don’t have any rituals for emergency situations at
all – indeed, the majority of all psychotherapies don’t. Therapy begins
AFTER the event, in many cases a long time after the event, not in the middle of
it or that close to it as I was on that particular occasion.
Also, and this important about rituals, is that many if not most therapies
outside the field of MET do NOT have a kinaesthetic component to them – there
is no ACTION, only talk and cognition.
In emergencies and under high stress, there is ACTION in the body – the
heart beats high, in my case, I was trembling all over, fight or flight
responses. People in this state of distress often don’t appear to hear
it when another speaks to them or screams at them; they don’t see
someone waving their arms around in front of their eyes; and what tends to get
through to them is touch – holding them, rocking them, physically
Rituals do have action – always. It is what makes them work, how
they lead into a more aligned mind/body state, through an alignment of thought
and physical action. Sometimes, the physical action leads the way in this
alignment (NLP calls “physiology the royal road into state” for this reason)
and sometimes, thought precedes the first action, gives the command for it all
to start; either way, when action and thought become aligned, the chaos recedes
and a different state of mind comes into being.
You could call this a trance state, and indeed, it is.
For a mind and body in utter turmoil, the trance state is a resting place to
regenerate resources and a step stone to start an emergence towards normal
Now, with general and unbeknown ritualistic behaviours, this is not always
the case and the trance state that is acquired thus becomes the end result
of the behaviour; if one was to look at the basic EFT protocol from this
standpoint, it offers the added dimension of actually beginning to heal and
rebalance in the very act of engaging in the ritual, so that an emergence is
virtually presupposed, virtually guaranteed.
When I was having my crisis, that which distressed me so was still right
before my eyes – I was still seeing the scene. When I began the
automatic EFT routine, I was speaking the statements and hearing
them, I was touching myself and feeling myself being touched; and
as I went through the ritual that is the basic EFT protocol, I could feel myself
calming and regaining some sense of self, of clarity, of thought even after the
very first round with a probably not very well thought out opening statement.
The basic EFT routine is just long enough to give time for this to happen, for the ritual to unfold. A three point algorithm without speaking isn’t the quite the same thing, nor is a oft repeated prayer that has no physical action associated with it.
This is why I would say that as a ritual for real emergency situations, the
basic EFT protocol is probably the best practical thing I’ve seen so far.
I’ve written this article because I’d like to draw your attention to the
concept of rituals and ritualised behaviours to help someone overcome these
moments of chaos and derangement in a pro-active way; whatever therapy you
practise by preference, there may be merit in considering what form of such a
ritual may be created for your particular modality to deal with this very real
circumstance, very real situation in which not only our disturbed clients find
themselves repeatedly, but which can happen to any human, at any time.
We no longer say Hail Mary’s or count rosary beads; something to replace
these very useful behavioural mechanisms to use in a moment of overwhelm would
I was also made aware of the distinction between working intuitively with
clients in a calm place long AFTER the fact and being right in that situation
that, generally, might have led me to see a therapist a few years later and
after the symptoms and repercussions of the events had been such that I
wouldn’t have been able to go on without seeking help of some kind.
I’m really glad that I practised the basic EFT routine as relentlessly as I
I’ve been glad of this many times over the past few years for one reason or
the other; there is a great deal to the basic EFT pattern, as it stands, simple
as it might seem which reveals itself really only when one has spent
considerable time with it and tested and experimented with it under many
different circumstances, with many different people, and on the self, in many
For a couple of years, I refused to learn any other form of MET and also did
not seek to change or personalise the basic EFT protocol to make something else
out of it that I might call my own. I sometimes wondered why I didn’t, and I
now wonder whether my experience the other night would be the answer to that
It might not be EFT that would be worthwile practising just an army drill for
emergencies – it can be your own therapy, your own shortcut, your own thing
But from my experience, I would suggest you make sure to have all the
components there that made the “EFT Ritual” so very useful to me that night,
- A ritualised procedure that takes at least five minutes to complete;
- which engages touch, feeling, seeing if possible, hearing and speaking;
- which has an emergence or test point built in (the deep breath at the end of an EFT sandwich);
- which follows a logical sequence of events that is easily remembered;
and finally, which includes the rebalancing energy aspects of the MET
Practise this until it becomes second nature to your body and mind, entirely
engrained, entirely remembered in all ways.
When the day comes, as it may or may not, when you really need this, it will be there for you – if you take the time now to install this safety anchor for yourself.
22. 03. 2002
Note: One week after the above article was written, the basic EMO protocol was designed.
Added Aug 28, 2002 | 7,007 Reads