Dear EFT Community,
When working on an emotional memory, it's important to tap on every aspect of the event, which can include emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations. Here we work with aspects of an encounter my wife and I had with a large bull shark while snorkeling. Some of my wife's aspects were physical ("heart pounding") and others were visual ("dorsal fin").
By Dawson Church, PhD
My wife, Christine, and I were teaching EFT at Blue Spirit, a retreat center in Nosara, Costa Rica. The beach outside is three miles long, with three reef lines, the farthest of which is almost a mile offshore.
I'm an avid scuba diver and snorkeler, though Christine usually needs some encouragement to get in the water. We had a day off and went snorkeling at low tide. Our swim plan was to swim to the farthest reef out, then work our way parallel to the beach till we reached a headland that jutted a mile into the ocean, intersecting the reef.
Once we'd made it out to the far reef, Christine wanted to turn back, but with dogged determination, I wanted to continue with our extended swim. Suddenly, we saw white water about 50 feet away. At first, I thought it might a flock of penguins attacking a school of fish. Then I saw fins and shouted, "Dolphins!"
The creatures were thrashing about in a frenzy, and we realized with a shock that we were looking at the dorsal fins of sharks, one huge, the other a bit smaller. I wanted to make for the nearby reef and climb out of the water, but Christine struck out for the distant beach, and I followed, even though it meant a long swim, in about 20 feet of water, with the sharks very close and very active.
Even swimming full tilt, it took about 20 minutes to reach the beach.
I kept looking behind me under the water, my heart in my mouth, but the sharks did not make an appearance. I tapped mentally the whole swim back and it helped stop me hyperventilating in panic. We later looked up the dorsal fin shapes and colors in an online shark identification guide, and identified them as bull sharks, the larger of which was probably a little over 10 feet (3 meters) long. That's a serious predator with which to share a bay.
The next day we tapped with a group of participants at Blue Spirit, and when I asked them to pick a recent event, Christine unsurprisingly chose a movie with the title "Sharks!"
The first aspect she tapped on was the moment of staring at the foaming white water. Her SUD level was at an 8, then went down to a 1 or 2. With the emotional intensity of this aspect tapped away, she then moved on to the word "dolphins" and that also quickly went down after one round of tapping.
Then she tapped on the moment we realized they were sharks (SUD 10), and our panicked discussion in the water about whether to head for the reef or the beach (also 10). She went down to a 2 quickly. She then shifted aspects to "swimming as fast as I can" and "heart pounding," and again felt the emotional intensity drop quickly.
Within about seven minutes of tapping, she could run the whole movie in her mind without her intensity going above a 2. She told the story out loud to the group, aspect by aspect, and her numbers stayed down. Tapping along with her, I borrowed benefits, and though I've always been terrified of sharks, I felt fine afterward.
I believe that processing an emotional trauma immediately after the event is very useful. Sure, you can do it days or decades later. But doing it right afterward, when the memory of the trauma is fresh, extinguishes those neurological patterns, allowing you to move into your future with emotional freedom. In fact, right after the trip I bought some new scuba gear and made preparations for the next dive, without a thought or care of sharks.