Relieving Anxiety and Calming the Classroom

A Rare Opportunity to Tap In Kenya & Best Laid Plans

Everything Works If You Let It - Best Laid Plans Went Awry, And Yet...

I received an invitation to introduce EFT to children at Nairobi's famed Storymoja Hay Festival  (http://storymojafestival.com)  on 1st September 2014, just 19 days before the event was scheduled to happen.  How could I refuse such a rare opportunity?

However, I was travelling to Bwindi Impenerable Forest to visit one of Uganda's endangered gorilla families that Friday. The permits were paid for, the flights' booked. I had just three nights to prepare for this major schools program. I had to write my profile, prepare a handout, guess my audience composition and set up an action plan for a forty-five minute slot all by Thursday 4th.  Come Thursday, the session plan had been drafted, redrafted, and finally submitted to the festival organiser! My session requirements had been emailed. I was ready for my gorilla trip. 

I returned from Uganda the following Saturday after a once-in-a-lifetime experience, anticipating that I could use some of my pictures to draw emotions from the young audience. I had requested that the audience be limited to 100 primary school children. Accordingly, I had recruited four of the trainee EFT practitioners from our April training to help that Friday 19th.

When the day of the event dawned, I arrived at the venue early to check that the materials I had requested were indeed available. I needed a single page handout, crayons and paper, a computer and screen with wi-fi connection to show kids 'tapping' in a class room and a projector and screen. I discovered that the handout was no-longer one page and nothing else was ready! However, I was assured that everything would be in place by 10.45am following the session of 'African Fusion ….an explosion of drum, dance and song'. I returned to the actors lounge to wait for my cue.

At 10.45am I was at the Dome tent with my fellow EFT'ers. Nothing was ready. The venue had emptied of children and by 11.00am a trickle of adults, many known to me, entered the tent. By 11.10am I was told that this was my audience. The audio-visuals were not yet available and the technical support person changed three times whilst awaiting the access code for the wi-fi.

 I began a somewhat different presentation to the one I had prepared. By 11.20am a group of children with their  teacher wandered into the Dome. Primary school children at last! I re-explained the purpose of the children's book 'I Love Me' and adjust my approach to eight years olds, this time showing a brief clip of primary school children 'tapping' in the class room in Mexico. Then horror of horrors.... at 11.40 am a hoard of teenagers flooded into the dome swelling our numbers to over 150 and truly giving the promised audience of  'all ages'. By the time everyone was seated, (and my time extended to 12 noon) I had just fifteen minutes to get the simplified tapping routine (for 4-6 year olds!) explained and rehearsed. We noted that all emotions are normal, but sometimes we can get stuck in an emotion and that is less healthy. Some of the teenagers request that we used FEAR for the first example rounds of tapping and they tapped along using  'head, heart and hand' with the teachers, the technical assistant, the other support staff and the initial adult participants!  The entire audience was uninhibited and 'tapped' along in unison – an African Fusion of tap and talk.

We repeated the exercise using another emotion, this time HATE. I was shocked to see many of the children scaling hate as huge by holding their arms wide apart. Several rounds later they were scaling hate as a fraction of the initial span and everyone seemed to recognise that their feeling had reduced in intensity. We briefly addressed the uses this routine could be put too... exam nerves, relationships, etc and then it was time to end the event with gracious thanks all round.

So while I felt somewhat uneasy about 'performing' EFT at a cultural festival for school children and sharing a venue with narrators, writers, poets, and creative artists, I am honoured to have been given this rare opportunity. Indeed, I was even more humbled to discover that the renowned Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) gave the Wangari Maathai Memorial Lecture at 11am the following day in the Dome.  

On reflection, nothing happened as planned. The session was chaotic. But, as Dr Auma Obama, in her opening comments in the program wrote:

….. 'All will be gathered to imagine a world..... that does not allow for such events as the siege that happened  on 21st of September 2013 at the Westgate Mall, Nairobi.'

We do not have to imagine, EFT CAN contribute to a world that reduces fear and hate.  So 'though I had to ad lib my part, how could I have refused such a rare opportunity to introduce EFT to such a diverse audience. Indeed, I owed it to the memory of those who perished last September to share this knowledge.

Thank you to everyone at Storymoja for gathering us together.

By Hilary Ahluwalia, AAMET International Advanced EFT Practitioner &

CIMI, LCCE, GradDipPhys., BSc (Hon), PhD

Find her here:   hilaryahluwalia@yahoo.co.uk

TappingStar member Hilary Ahluwalia (nee Watson) is a clinician with 40 years' experience in the UK, France and Kenya, where she's lived since 1986. A physiotherapist with a PhD from the Rehabilitation Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, she has a passion for pursuing good health as a lifelong right and uses proven means to achieve this goal. She is the current Contact Person for the forming Kenyan Chapter of the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM).  Hilary is married and has one grown daughter, born and raised in Kenya. She lives along the shore of a dam, with her closest neighbors, a hippo family!

She would like to share her hand-out for primary school children, I Love Me, with you.  Below, you'll find the text, and a way to buy her books.

                         I  LOVE  ME (for Primary Schools)

Sometimes things make us feel bad and it is hard to change that feeling. Here is a simple way that may help you and may be used with any 'bad' feeling (sad, scared, hurt, angry...).

  1. NAME the bad feeling. 
  2. How BIG is the bad feeling?
  3. LET GO of the bad feeling by saying/miming it and patting 3 body points.
  4. PAT along little finger side of hand with other fingers. 
  5. Take a big breath and LET GO.
  6. How BIG is the bad feeling now?  

                                 To Do (using 'sad' emotion, for example):

1. Name and show how big the 'sad' feeling is using your hands – hands together 'no or small problem' to wide apart 'big problem'. If your hands are apart.....

2. Say:“I feel sad” and add good words like“I love me” or “I'm OK”  or “I'm a cool kid”. Do this while patting the little finger side of one hand with the other hand.  Repeat out loud 3 times. 

3. LET GO of sad feeling:

Say“Sad”- and feel/mime 'sad' while patting your head, heart and hand.

  • Head - drum fingers round top of head
  • Heart - pat with flat hand to left of upper chest

4. Take a big breath and LET GO!

5. Show how big the 'sad' feeling is with your hands again. Repeat patting several times. 

If the BIG 'sad' feeling does not get SMALLER, ask your parent or teacher for help.

Based upon www.istillloveme.com  From 'I Love Me' and 'Ninajipenda', Dr. Hilary Ahluwalia, 2013, Storyhippo Imprint, No Boundaries, Nairobi - available from

www.storymojaafrica.co.ke & leading bookshops.

Approved by the National Institute of Curriculum Development (NICD), 

2014, for schools in Kenya.

Parents/Teachers - please introduce this modified EFT into your schools to aid the emotional health of your children.  Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

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