Years ago, when I first started working with clients on their fear of flying, I was interested to learn that, according to several studies, as many as 40 percent of people experience some level of anxiety about flying. That's a big number, especially given how many people have to be on airplanes regularly for work! What's more, the National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted a small study that found that among women with flying phobia, taking alprazolam (the generic form of Xanax) while flying was correlated with increased anxiety compared to a placebo.
Clearly, a new solution was needed, and as an EFT practitioner, I was naturally drawn to the idea of using tapping to help people address their anxiety and discomfort about flying. In the years since, I've been excited to see how well tapping alleviates the fear of flying, helping the formerly white-knuckled-while-flying to feel calmer and safer on airplanes.
Meggan was one of those people. A successful author, coach and lecturer, she was often forced to get on planes for work, but had been unable to overcome on her own her deep-seated anxiety about flying. Her fear of flying had been with her for decades, stemming from a traumatic memory of a very turbulent flight she'd taken with her sister at a very young age. On that day, she and her sister had been flying on a very small plane, and all these years later, she still remembered feeling the plane drop several feet at once over and over again, and hearing the muted screams of nearby passengers. In spite of how extreme the turbulence had been, neither the pilot nor the stewardesses made an announcement reassuring the passengers of their safety. Meggan had been sure she was going to die on that flight, and the trauma of that experience had rooted itself in her mind and body, making her deeply anxious about flying.
Although it seems counterintuitive, one of the most powerful ways to address deep-seated trauma like this is to revisit the event, to try to really recreate the original experience in your mind. While it often feels scary, doing this while tapping allows you to finally resolve and release the trauma that's been stored in your body (often for years, if not decades). Unfortunately, until you get rid of what Robert Scaer, M.D., calls the "fight/flight/freeze" response in the body (which is what can happen when traumatic stress occurs), many people are physically, mentally and emotionally unable to overcome their trauma.
As I led Meggan through the process, she initially felt extreme anxiety, imagining herself back on that very turbulent flight. As we tapped through her trauma, however, her stress and anxiety quickly began to lower, and by the end of 30 minutes, she could envision the entire flight in her mind without experiencing any anxiety. Meggan boarded a cross-country flight a few weeks later, and was amazed and relieved by the change in her flying experience. Having released her trauma, she was able to feel calm and comfortable throughout her flight. (She even did a little dance in the aisle!)
Meggan was thrilled with her newfound freedom to fly without anxiety, and wrote me a long email of thanks, explaining how much relief she felt at having released the trauma of that childhood memory. I've heard similar comments from many clients over the years, and the reason people feel so much relief is that the trauma they were storing ended up showing in their lives in many different ways. In Meggan's case, although we spent our time tapping through her traumatic childhood memory about flying, we were really processing her fears about safety and life, which had been affecting her well-being on multiple levels.
For those of you who also suffer from some level of anxiety about flying, here are some tips for overcoming it with EFT:
Tap Through It Before You Fly.
Whether it's a traumatic flying memory like Meggan's or a more general discomfort about flying, try to recreate the entire experience in your mind in a very detailed way. Imagine yourself on your way to the airport, arriving at the airport, checking your bags, going through security, boarding the plane, sitting in your seat, taking off, being in flight, maybe even going through turbulence, landing, and so on. Try to make the experience as real as possible in your mind, and then do your tapping on the emotions that you experience -- anxiety, feeling out of control, feeling closed in, and so on. (If you're new to tapping, watch this free four-minute video to learn how.)
If Necessary, Tap During Your Flight.
If you've fully released your anxiety and trauma prior to flying, you may not need to do any tapping in flight, but if you find yourself experiencing any discomfort while flying, be sure to begin tapping right away. Tapping both relieves your stress response, as I explained in an earlier post, and prevents you from storing any additional stress or trauma in your body.
Follow The Tapping Trail.
Because deep anxieties, fears and trauma often affect multiple parts of people's lives, ask yourself what's at the root of your fear of flying -- a feeling of being unsafe? Not being in control? Not trusting the people who fly and maintain the plane? Once you get your answer, take some time to consider how these issues are affecting other parts of your life, whether it's your sleep, your relationships, or other. Then use tapping to work through those issues as well. Before long, much like Meggan, you'll clear more negative energy than you ever even realized you were storing.
Nick Ortner is the creator and executive producer of the hit documentary film "The Tapping Solution." His new book on EFT will be published by Hay House in April 2013. To get a copy of his free eBook, "Tapping Your Way to Health, Happiness and Abundance," visit TheTappingSolution.com.
For more by Nick Ortner, click here.
For more on Becoming Fearless, click here.
Related on HuffPost: For more tapping videos, click here.
Follow Nick Ortner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nortner