Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful, well-researched treatment for anxiety & trauma that activates each side of the brain and accelerates the processing of memories.
This technique, called "Bilateral Stimulation (BLS)," occurs, for example, by holding buzzers that alternate a soft vibration in each hand ... right-left, right-left.
If this sounds bizarre, I'm with you.
However, when we activate a disturbing memory by bringing up the emotions, body sensations & thoughts associated with it and then add BLS, an extraordinary free-associative mind-body process begins.
Thoughts, feelings, old memories, or dreamlike fantasies move rapidly through our awareness during this time. As this information is processed, new insights and ways of viewing ourselves & our lives emerge.
It's an "a-ha" moment, when things register in a profound way and the negative emotions are less charged. These old memories, and our interpretations of them, no longer feel as disturbing.
It's Possible: The memories do not go away, but the ongoing, circular thoughts just do not bother you as much anymore!
Despite all the empirical evidence of the power of Bilateral Stimulation (BLS) to help people, we do not know exactly how it works in scientific terms. There are two main theories that may shed some light.
The rhythm of the stimulation causes a calming effect on the nervous system. Drumming & dancing have been used for thousands of years by cultures around the world to support the processing of traumatic experiences. The calming effect of rhythm may be hardwired into us from the time we were in our mother's womb, listening to her heartbeat.
This explanation involves the right-left stimulation of the brain's two hemispheres. Similar to what happens during REM or dream sleep, information is processed in a non-linear way, memories are activated and then integrated into a broader picture. In our dream state, or when we tap right-left, right-left, we help the brain activate memory networks and integrate information that is stored in our subconscious and not always accessible in our everyday waking life.
Do you have trouble making decisions? Quieting the critical voice in your head? Believing that you're good enough? Putting your past behind you?
Try EMDR ... It is amazing the peace you can find!
Samburu or Maasai