When Jessica Ortner, co-creator of the Tapping Solution App, began her Mama Glow webinar “Pregnant During a Pandemic: Learn EFT Tapping to Release Stress & Anxiety” with Latham Thomas, she began by reminding us all: “We have to pause and be present.”
“Since I was a little girl,” Ortner explained, “I was a chronic over thinker… I have been trying so hard to do everything right. When you can’t say no and take care of yourself, your body starts to act up.” She revealed that once she discovered tapping, she was able to release the anxiety from the body (since stress is a physical experience). She tapped on points that were hurting her while she had a cold she couldn’t kick, and felt weight lifted off chest, gaining awareness and clarity of her nervous system once it’d been calmed Tapping enabled her to identify what she was feeling in a way that simply trying to speak it out was not.
Ortner describes EFT Tapping as “psychological acupressure.” When we’re under stress, we have a high concentration of cortisol which can contribute to shortness of breath and cause our fight or flight response to be triggered. When we’re in a fight or flight response, the part of our brain that handles logical and problem-thinking is not functioning, so the body doesn’t know it’s safe. Tapping meditation rhythmically brings your attention back to your body, helping to “create safety in a space where we don’t feel safe.” The return to the body and acknowledgement that you’re not in danger encouraged within the tapping method helps you get to the point where you can think through the negative thought with more calm and clarity.
give a voice to the part of you that might be holding onto the stress – when we don’t have control, sometimes worry gives us a false sense of control
EFT combines breathing, spoken word, and repetitive, cyclical tapping on the following points: the side of the hand, the eyebrow, the side of the eye, under the eye, between the nose and upper lip, the chest/collarbone, and under the armpit (where your bra line is).
With the support of Ortner’s Tapping Solution app, which she founded with her brother Nick Ortner, anyone can easily incorporate the EFT tapping technique into their lives through guided meditation and recorded progress . And right now, to support the additional, unprecedented stress and anxiety so many are under, everything resource on the app that is related to the coronavirus is free.
Tapping to Move Through The Stresses of Coronavirus
As the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing and uncertainties continue to mount across the country, it’s safe to say that stress and anxiety is high for many (even those who wouldn’t “normally” identify as stressed or anxious). Ortner explains that wiring of our brain has to deal with stress, and the irony of the situation that we’re currently in is that we are having fight or flight responses to a virus that we cannot flee. In turn, that type of reaction can’t help, putting you in a continual, unproductive state of anxiety where you’re ultimately “stressing about the stress.”
For those who are pregnant and giving birth during the pandemic, there may also be grief associated with the loss of a birth experience you were expecting to have but can no longer enjoy due to changes in health and safety measures due to COVID-19. Ortner says that even when we are not going to get the certainty we need, we have to find a way to feel empowered by the things we are able to stay in control of. Thomas reminds us that in a time like this, “people can be re-traumatized.”
Ortner discourages us from pushing down or rejecting what we’re thinking, and says we should affirm and go through the process of feeling it instead. She suggests repeating a phrase such as “Even though I am terrified of what’s going on, I love and accept how I feel.”
When you have a negative thought, it’s like a movie playing in your head – you can try to turn it off but you’ll keep coming back to it. Ortner says their research shows that after an hour of tapping, cortisol levels went down about 40%. Talk therapy brought it down 19% and reading magazines actually brought it up 2%.
Tapping to Move Through the Stresses of Birth & Pregnancy (& Communicate Those Stresses With Your Partner)
While pregnancy is an exciting time for many, there may be times when you feel overwhelmed or anxious (even without the added, looming presence of COVID-19). For expectant people who are going through their pregnancy with the support of a partner, Ortner says that tapping can also be a great way to let them in to what you’re experiencing.
If you making EFT tapping a “couple’s practice,” she says the best thing someone can do for their partner is to encouragement them to tap when they are in a panic. You might need someone to hold your hand and encourage you, talking through the fear while tapping through the points. Doulas can make this a part of their practice, too.
Sometimes when we have anxiety, it’s hard to put words to what’s going on. Tapping meditations give you and your partner the opportunity to have an experience that guides you out of that anxiety and calms the nervous system; when we tap, we’re able to have more power over our emotions and thoughts.
Tapping can be a powerful tool for communication, especially when you’re not able to articulate what you’re feeling. By tapping with or in front of your partner, they can witness your vulnerability through this practice and be able to hear something you might not have been able to share otherwise.
At the conclusion of the webinar and tapping practice, Ortner made sure to gently remind us that everything that’s happening is going to be difficult – this meditation should be about finding ease and relief, not about making it easy. Even if you don’t have all the answers, even if nothing changes, you can feel a sense of certainty inside of yourself by taking the time to reconnect and recenter with a practice that is fully within your control.
Download the Tapping Solution App here.
Anyone who is a first responder or a Mama Glow doula (or doula trainee) can apply for a free membership to the app here.
Even without a membership, anyone can access these three Tapping meditations with a free download of the app: “Racial Anxiety Relief,” “Releasing Shock,” and “Feeling Safe and Secure.”
The Racial Anxiety Relief Tapping meditation, led by Dr. Damon Silas, can also be found on YouTube here.