Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through a classic form such as a sitting meditation or by an intentional body scan. Mindful moment to moment practices can take place throughout our day by engaging in daily activities such as taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it. Mindfulness and meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of our mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others. As helpful as mindfulness and meditation are for people it can be difficult for those who have experienced trauma to engage in a traditional meditation practice that involves quieting the mind and focusing on the breath. Many people who have experienced trauma from their childhood or as adults have a dysregulated nervous system. Sometimes if they quiet their minds, focus on their breath or even breathe in too deeply they can become scared, nervous, agitated or even have a panic attack.
Luckily, there is a way for people who have dysregulated nervous systems to engage in mindfulness practices and eventually if they choose to develop a meditation practice. This helpful technique is called, “Resource Tapping or Tapping In”. Resource Tappng is used in a special type of trauma treatment called EMDR therapy. This type of therapy helps to reduce the effects of trauma on the brain and nervous system. Part of the preparation phase of EMDR therapy is to help the client identify a calm/peaceful place. Using imagery a calm/peaceful place, either real or imagined, is identified by the client and bilateral right/left brain stimulation with eye movements or tapping is used. In EMDR therapy this technique is used in the preparation phase of EMDR therapy and is also used in between sessions to help clients manage intense emotions or PTSD symptoms. Resource tapping helps to strengthen internal resources and enhance healthy coping skills.
Resource Tapping at Home
The technique can be used at home by anyone as a method of increasing mindfulness and meditation. Laurel Parnell, Ph.D. an EMDR therapist, trainer and author developed this grounding process called, “Resource Tapping” or “Tapping In”. This process of resource tapping can be done in the morning or evening, it can be used with meditation or prayer to strengthen your internal resources. It can also be used as a daily meditative practice or during times of stress or crisis to increase a grounding effect and calm your nervous system.
Here are the directions for “tapping in” your internal resources:
- To begin this practice start by getting comfortable and sitting or laying down with your eyes closed or open. Next, identify a calm/peaceful place. This can be real or imagined. This can be a place that you have been to or one that you would like to go to. If you can’t think of one right away you can imagine a place that you have seen on TV, in the movies or in a magazine. Hint: one common place that people think of is the beach. Once you have this place in your minds’ eye, allow yourself to notice your 5 senses, the colors of that place, textures, sounds, smells and imagine what you might be touching (sitting on or standing on).
- Feel the resource and “tap in” to integrate it. To tap you can alternate by tapping on your knees slowly or by crossing your arms over your chest and tapping on your chest. This is called a “butterfly hug”. Tap (right/left taps) 6-12 times.
- Take a breath and check in. What are you noticing now? Continue a couple more rounds of tapping 6-12 times as long as the calm/peaceful place feels positive. During some of your rounds of tapping be sure to breathe into that place and allow your body to relax and feel at ease. Notice where your body is relaxing and breathe into that relaxed feeling.
- Continue to strengthen this resource with short 6-12 slow taps a few more times as long as you are feeling good while doing it. If for some reason this place stops feeling positive and you’re not feeling “good” then stop the tapping, make sure to open your eyes and orient yourself to your surroundings. You may want to get up and move around and try again at another time.
- Finally, identify a cue word that can help you to remember this place. This cue word can be used in the future to bring up this calm/peaceful place quickly into your minds’ eye and allow you to feel the strength of it as a resource.
Below you will find some additional resources that you can tap in and use to strengthen and ground you during meditation or mindfulness practices.
“Tapping In” resources directions:
Feel the resource and “tap in” to integrate it. Tap (right/left taps) 6-12 times. Take a breath and check in. What are you noticing now? You can identify a cue word to help your to remember these resources and the way you feel. If for some reason during tapping it stops feeling good then go back to your calm/ peaceful place or choose another resource.
Use your creativity to develop your own personalized inner resources. Here are some suggestions for additional resources to tap in:
- Resources for comfort
- Love resources (animals, friends, family members etc.)
- Resources for empowerment
- Wise inner voice
- Spiritual resources
- Boosting performance
- Loving kindness meditation (May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease). Start with self first, then someone you love and then all beings.
- Power figures
- Memories of success
- Inner mentor/coach
- Tap in a circle of love (surround yourself with loving resources such as nurturers and protectors)
Source: “Tapping In” by Laurel Parnell, PhD