Stresshack #6: EMDR Yourself

The technique of bilateral brain stimulation has an immediate effect on the mood, acting as a powerful and almost instantaneous relaxant.

It is easy to do on yourself. Whenever bothered by distressing thoughts that do not seem to go away, find a quiet spot and move your eyes alternatively from the leftmost spot of your field of vision to the rightmost, for about 20 cycles and then pause. Repeat the sequence for 6 or seven times and see if anything happens to your thought patterns. You may be quite amazed at the resulting change in your mood.

How Does It Work?

One day in the early 90’s, Dr. Francine Shapiro took a walk in the woods while trying to deal with distressing thoughts that did not seem to go away. Quite casually, she started to move her eyes alternatively to the far left and to the far right of her field of vision, without moving her head. She soon realized that her mood was changing and she decided on a hunch to increase the speed at which she was moving her eyes from side to side. Within a relatively short time, her emotional state had changed enough for her to know that she was onto something. That something turned out to be eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, EMDR.

Today, EMDR is a validated and empirically supported form of therapy that is used to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The therapy employs the technique of bilateral brain stimulation through rapid lateral eye movements. This stimulation has the power to unblock painful memories that are stuck in the limbic system of the brain, where they persist with their full charge of emotional content. EMDR is routinely employed to treat returning soldiers and other individuals who have been severely traumatized. The success rate of EMDR therapy is quite high. EMDR was also found effective by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies.

An Alternative to Eye Movement

EMDR expert Dr. Laura Parnell is the author of Tapping In, an alternative mode of bilateral brain stimulation that consists of crossing your arms in a “butterfly hug” and then tapping your shoulders  alternately right-left with your hands for about 20 cycles and then pause. Repeat the sequence a few times until changes in mood are noticeable.

[amtap book:isbn=1591797888]
[amtap book:isbn=0465043011]