This is an account of how tapping saved the day – actually saved three weeks – for a group of sixteen young Australian women trainee swimming instructors during their time on the island of Vanuatu in the tropical South Pacific.
Swimming instructor Rebecca Smith is an EFT International Level 2 graduate who trained with me.
Over the last two years she has applied EFT to change her life for the better. For her, tapping is now the natural thing to do if something feels amiss.
Rebecca was delighted to have been invited to join the staff on the program who had organised the trip to Vanuatu.
Although the visitors were surrounded by sun, sand, sea, palm trees and lush green hills in their accommodation at a tourist village, they were not there on holiday. The trainee instructors’ task involved teaching one hundred local children to swim in sight of the children’s families. While this may sound fairly straightforward, it wasn't. Not only were many of the children at risk of drowning, they also did not speak any English. The trainees had to find out and group the ages and mixed levels of swimming skills of the students. There were also further complications, as one group was not encouraged to swim for religious and cultural reasons.
On the first day, while the Australians were learning to adjust to living in a foreign place in unforgiving tropical heat, Rebecca witnessed a problem in the village. While the trainees were dividing themselves into small teams for the program, one girl ran away from the group in tears. Some of the others recognised she was upset and followed to comfort her.
"I went over to them and asked what was wrong. One girl was upset because she felt she had been left out of the team process. Another girl felt the same. There was a lot of anger and confusion."
"This was not a harmonious start. I could see that this kind of thing could spread through the group and threaten everyone’s enjoyment of the process. And I wanted to enjoy the three weeks too. So I decided to try something."
"This may seem strange."
Rebecca took a deep breath and said to them, "This may seem strange. But I know a simple way to release the emotions you’re experiencing now, so that we can establish a sense of safety right away. It’s something you can do quickly, although at first it seems a bit odd. But the method is well tested. We don’t want to stay upset, so let’s do this. Just do what I do."
She led the small group through a round of tapping away their upset feelings.
Even though I feel excluded, that is what I’m feeling right now, and I accept myself anyway.
After two more rounds she stopped and asked the girls who had been excluded how they were feeling.
One said, "I’m really surprised. I feel really different. I think this situation is a trigger from when I used to be excluded at high school, and how much that hurt." Others agreed that they too were re-experiencing feelings left over from school, and they too felt better. They all hugged and returned to the program.
News of what had happened soon spread.
From then to the end of the trip, each day individuals in the group would approach Rebecca between program sessions, requesting help to relieve uncomfortable feelings with this new tapping thing.
As the days went on, the trainees, children and their families gathered on the beach daily for the swimming lessons in the sea. Trainees taught using lots of body language and humour. They needed to quickly establish trust and a personal connection with the families.
They also had to demonstrate leadership skills and sequence their lessons in a way that ensured successful swimming and floating skills for all of the one hundred children by the end of the trip.
Outside the program the trainees were reacting to the novelties of sustained hot weather, shared accommodation in small huts, and a rich and complex diet.
"Lots of emotions flared up in our group. New friendships blossomed or went awry. Various issues emerged: from homesickness to feeling the isolation to other anxieties, and trainees would pop in for a tapping session to de-brief and de-stress.
"What I did was just hold the space and tap when it was asked for."
Tapping First Aid
On the final day, the group celebrated a successful end to their training by treating themselves to a tourist day ziplining in the high country. This particular zipline drops riders down in a single harness over thick jungle and deep ravines opening out to a vast view of the ocean.
After the group walked up from the village, Rebecca was stationed on the zipline platform to help each person get into a harness as their turn came. One of the group hung back: someone who had not felt the need to try tapping before. But now she was in such a panic that she collapsed on the platform, frozen in terror.
‘I can’t do this,’ she gasped. ‘I can’t even put it on.’
And guess what?
After about three minutes of tapping away her fear of heights with Rebecca, the woman was able to don the harness and even slide off the platform into freefall.
Here are Rebecca’s reflections on tapping:
‘As well as unresolved hurts and fears being triggered by what happens in a group situation, misunderstandings can also create conflict and confusion. EFT unveils the confusion, clarifies the order of things, and helps to offer a balanced picture of where one person is in relation to another. This brings understanding, clarity and greater empathy. Tapping is phenomenal.’
Annie O'Grady is an EFT Master Trainer, author of 'Tapping Your Troubles Away with EFT' and a contributing author to 'The Clinical EFT Handbook' Vol. 1.