Relieving Anxiety and Calming the Classroom

From Newtown to Pediatric Oncology: Preparing for The Work

This article is from one of the Newtown Trauma Relief Project volunteers, Rosemary Dowling, also a member of TappingStar.  It's been my pleasure to know her, and serve beside her.  Since that time Rosemary has gone on to work in a children's pediatric oncology hospital, bringing her care and many gifts to the children and their families.   While undergoing cancer treatments, she shows them how to use EFT to reduce their pain, worries and re-empower them for self-care.


When I volunteered for the Newtown Trauma Relief and Resilience Project in Newtown, CT after the shooting at Sandy Hook School, I didn't know where it would lead me. Certainly, I never imagined it would lead me to a children's hospital in another state.

The focus of the Newtown project was to train Newtowners to help Newtowners since there would be a need for a long term recovery.  The tool being used was Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, also known as Tapping), a tool that helps reduce stress.  I was familiar with EFT but did not become a certified practitioner until I joined the Newtown team.  Our charge was to use EFT on ourselves first before working with others and to bring it back to our own communities in addition to the work of training Newtown clinicians (psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers) to incorporate EFT into their practices with the local residents.

A friend of mine was doing massage and Reiki at Maria Ferari Children's Hospital (MFCH) at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY not far from my home.  She urged me to approach the administration about including EFT in the Alternative Therapies Program at the hospital.  After a number of meetings with the VP at the hospital and members of a Foundation run by parents of children with cancer that funded the program I was approved to begin working in the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Unit at the Children's Center with the children & their families.

I was excited and nervous when I first entered the unit.  Also, a bit overwhelmed since I have no medical background and wasn't familiar with the terms or even some of the diseases I was hearing.  The patients ranged from infants to 28 years old with leukemia or other forms of cancer, sickle cell anemia or other blood diseases.  

Each day as well as each room I entered was a new adventure.  Some patients or family members wanted to tap.  Others didn't or weren't able to because of the treatments or medications they were taking that made them very sleepy.  

One day as I was driving to the hospital I realized I was anxious.  What if no one wanted or was able to tap?  I knew this wasn't an energy to bring with me to the patients.  When I parked my car I sat there and tapped until I had released my own anxiety before entering the hospital.

This experience made me realize that I needed to have a ritual to release my “stuff” before I began working with the patients.  I spent some time meditating about this and how best to get out of my own way.  Gradually, I came up with a ritual.  

When I get to the hospital I go into one of the private bathrooms.  I begin my threefold ritual:


            * I spray myself with On Guard Essential Oils which protects me from viruses and bacteria.  

            * I tap my thymus gland to activate my immune system.  

Now, that I have protected myself physically I protect myself from the emotions (fear, anger, sadness, etc.) that I often encounter so I can be present to the patient but not take on their emotional baggage.


               *  I use one of Donna Eden's Energy techniques, the Zip-up, to protect myself from         

                  other's negative energies and to boost my self confidence.

               *  I continue with more of Donna's techniques, Heaven and Earth, which connects me  

                  to both energies and grounds me, and 

               *  the Celtic Weave that expands my auric energy field.  

Now that I have taken care of the physical and energetic realms, I move to my heart.

         Heart - centered:

               * I begin by putting some Grace oil (frankincense, thyme, geranium, rose) on my hands, rubbing them together and inhaling while I say the Heart Prayer:

                           Oh, Lord, 

                           Light of the World, 

                           Christ of my heart, 

                           Anoint me with Your Grace.  

                 *  I follow it with another prayer:

                            Give me the courage to be no-thing in Thy Name.

                 *  and a prayer from St. Paul:

                             When I am weak, I am strong.

Taking just these few minutes to do this ritual centers me so I can be present and act with intention during the tender and sacred moments I share with the patients and their families.  

- Rosemary Dowling


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