A few years ago, Jessica Taylor felt like she couldn’t get out of her own way.
She was a nurse with a great career and family, but she procrastinated, especially those things she didn’t like to do, and it frustrated her. Someone suggested she try “tapping,” a stress-reduction technique that calls for finger tapping on the body’s acupressure points.
Taylor thought it sounded weird.
Then she tried it. And it helped.
“That really changed my mind about tapping in general, that it was not a weird, woo-woo kind of thing,” she said.
Today, she runs the Wellness Services Program at Western Maine Primary Care in Norway, where she teaches groups of patients and individuals how to use tapping, yoga and mindfulness to improve their own lives.
Name: Jessica St. Clair Taylor
Family: I am married to Brian (the BEST husband in the state of Maine!). We have two lovely daughters: Ruby, age 10, Molly, age 6. And a chocolate Lab, Djembe, age 5.
Job: Family nurse practitioner (and yoga teacher, EFT/tapping practitioner, mindfulness facilitator) at Western Maine Primary Care in Norway.
What is tapping? Tapping is the nickname for emotional freedom techniques (EFT). This is a mind-body stress reduction tool that people can learn how to use to help themselves feel better. It helps to reduce physical symptoms that are triggered by emotional upset and is a very effective self-help tool for symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, phobias, chronic pain, insomnia, cravings and more.
How does it work? We tap with our own fingers on acupressure points on our face and torso, while focusing on how our body feels when we experience an upsetting situation or think about experiencing an upsetting memory. Tapping on the acupressure points sends signals through our body’s energy system to reduce the activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that is in charge of the “fight or flight” response. Tapping not only helps reduce symptoms during stressful times in the present moment, but can also help to reduce recurrent symptoms due to old trauma, even if it happened many years ago.
How did you get interested in it? About three years ago I was struggling with procrastination and was frustrated because I couldn’t get out of my own way. EFT/tapping was suggested to me, to help me get “unstuck.” I resisted trying it for weeks because it was unfamiliar, I didn’t understand how it would help and I thought it was weird. But the first time I tried it, I felt so much better and the root of the issue became clear.
How does it compare to acupuncture? EFT/tapping can be done by a person on themselves and does not involve needles. It is a skill people learn how to use to help themselves and can be done successfully independent of a practitioner. The “tapping points” are acupressure points, some of which may be stimulated with needles during an acupuncture session — however, there are many more acupressure points on the body than those used in EFT/tapping. Acupuncturists place needles into specific points to treat specific issues; when using EFT/tapping, the same nine to 10 points are stimulated, no matter the issue being addressed.
Do you have any success stories? Since adding EFT/tapping to my practice in June 2016, I have taught more than 200 patients how to use EFT/tapping to help themselves. An adult male patient was able to get rid of chronic neck pain he had been suffering from for more than 30 years, an adult female patient described preferring EFT/tapping over taking valium for anxiety since it worked without side effects, and a pediatric female patient used EFT/tapping to help her anxiety related to long car rides and was able to enjoy a family vacation.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the awareness that develops when we pay attention to the present moment without judgment. This means not worrying about the future or making plans, not reliving the past or questioning prior decisions, but noticing what is happening RIGHT NOW and not judging it as good, bad, better, worse, etc. Applying this concept to how we eat, exercise, think, relate to ourselves and others, and sleep/rest, can help improve our lifestyles, which can improve chronic medical issues.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen mindfulness do for someone? One participant . . . noticed that by practicing mindfulness, she was able to reduce her pain and anxiety related to a spinal injection by becoming aware of her own inner state of body and mind, instead of trying to distract herself by paying attention to what was happening around her during the procedure. She was able to look inside herself for relief, instead of seeking it from an outside source.
What kind of integrative medicine would you like to try that you haven’t yet? Professionally, I will be taking a health coaching certification course in April, which will help me expand my ability to guide patients in the direction of their own health goals. Personally, I would like to learn more about adding daily practices of Ayurveda into my life.