Remember to Roll Your Eyes! A Deeper Understanding of the Gamut Point Procedure
Written byCarol Prentice
The Gamut Point Procedure
“You want me to do what? Roll my eyes and then hum and count?!”
Many of us may have reacted this way when we first observed Gary Craig teaching the 9 Gamut Procedure. Some clients will ask for more details about the seemingly strange technique and whether or not it’s even necessary. In fact, some EFT therapists have taken out the gamut procedure completely because the tapping itself works wonders and skipping the gamut point saves time (as if EFT didn’t work fast enough already)!
So the question is: Do you have to use the gamut procedure? And how does the gamut procedure really work anyway? Why is it so important?
To begin, it is important to recognize that the gamut procedure essentially contains two different components. The first component is the tapping of the gamut point; and the second component includes the eye movements, humming, and counting which essentially can be summarized as “bilateral stimulation of the brain.”
The gamut point is located on the back of either hand between the knuckles at the base of the ring finger and the little finger. It is the third point on the Triple Warmer meridian, in connection with the spleen meridian point (the EFT “under arm” meridian point).
What It Does
The Triple Warmer meridian, which runs along this path, is responsible for turning on/off the fight or flight response when we feel stressed or threatened. When this happens, energy is first pulled and drained from the spleen meridian and then from other meridians. Some think that a spleen energy imbalance is what causes the majority of physical issues ranging from pain to allergies. You can tap on the under arm point to balance the spleen when using the basic EFT format, but some feel that adding in the 9 Gamut Procedure and tapping directly on the gamut point is more effective for balancing. Some people find relief when they simply press or rub the gamut point when they feel their body going into a stress reaction.
So why bother rolling your eyes, humming and counting if tapping the gamut point on the back of the hand is enough to turn off the fight or flight stress response in the body? The 9 movements that are included in the 9 Gamut Procedure, as taught originally by Gary Craig include: looking down hard to the right, looking down hard to the left, rolling the eyes in a circle in one direction, rolling the eyes in the other direction, humming, counting and humming again. Is all this really necessary? Absolutely!
It’s important to understand that what is actually happening in the brain during the eye movements, humming and counting is something called “bilateral stimulation of the brain.”
For example, when your eyes look right you are actually firing the left hemisphere of the brain and when your eyes look to the left, it is firing the right hemisphere. When you hum, it fires the right hemisphere of the brain and counting fires the left hemisphere. This repeated stimulation of both sides of the brain creates a “whole brain” experience or a blending of both hemispheres. This blending of both hemispheres of the brain has also been used in other well known forms of trauma therapy techniques including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). The parallels between EMDR and the 9 Gamut Procedure deserve further examination.
EMDR and the 9 Gamut Procedure
EMDR was first developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., of the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California. The psychotherapeutic use of EMDR evolved in the late 1980’s after Dr. Shapiro went for a walk in the park. It was during this walk that Dr. Shapiro discovered that she could not maintain her focus on painful images/memories while walking or when scanning her eyes from side to side while looking at stones along the pathway. She later discovered that purposefully moving the eyes rapidly from side to side for a brief period while maintaining attention to a targeted traumatic experience, produces dramatic relief from painful affect associated with the memory. In addition, it causes a shift in negative beliefs associated with the event.
When we receive sensory information or experience an event during the day, it passes through an emotional filter (amygdala) in the right half of the brain. If there is nothing emotionally-charged, the information then passes through another structure (hippocampus) that processes the information and allows it to pass to the left hemisphere. This experience is then stored normally in memory.
However, when incoming sensory information is emotionally-charged (e.g. traumatic), it gets stuck in the central nervous system (CNS) in the right hemisphere of the brain. It does not get processed in time and space so when reminders occur, the stuck memory is triggered and feels like it is happening in the present. This accounts for flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and nightmares so familiar to those who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In other words, when a traumatic or very negative event occurs, strong negative feelings or dissociation can interfere with the processing of the event. For example, years after the event, a rape survivor may “know” that rapists are responsible for their crimes, but this information does not connect with her feeling that she is to blame for the attack. The memory has become stored in a dysfunctional way with many aspects still unprocessed. It is not only major traumatic events that can cause psychological disturbance as sometimes a relatively minor event from childhood, such as being teased by one’s peers or disparaged by one’s parent, may not be adequately processed either.
EMDR can assist to alleviate symptoms of PTSD by processing the aspects of the distressing memories. Information processing is thought to occur when the targeted memory is linked with other more adaptive information. The process of EMDR (and any type of bilateral stimulation of the brain) allows learning to take place and then the experience/event is stored with appropriate emotions able to appropriately guide the person in the future.
Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the EMDR session. After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, they ask the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use their eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the client begins to process the memory and disturbing feelings. The event is often recalled as a series of “scenes” and processed one at a time.
This is very similar to how Gary Craig describes the “Story Telling Technique” and the importance of processing every “aspect” of the event.
How REM Sleep Plays a Part
The similarity between REM sleep, EMDR and the 9 Gamut Procedure is also something to be acknowledged.
During REM sleep, our eyes flutter back and forth rapidly (sound familiar?) beneath closed eyelids, our breathing is somewhat shorter and more erratic, our heart beat quickens, and our blood pressure increases. It is when we are in REM sleep that we are dreaming. The reason REM sleep is important is that this is when the learning and memory areas of our brains become stimulated. It is theorized by some that when we dream during REM sleep, the dreams are the result of our brains trying to segregate, analyze and file away the data that we have absorbed during the day (similar to how a client process an event with EFT). It is also thought that our brains revisit certain childhood memories (the “writing on our walls,” as Gary Craig would say) to use them as a sort of reference point to facilitate this filing process. It is also theorized that this “filing” activity clears room for new data and helps to improve our overall memories. Essentially, dreaming helps us to process the events of our day and store them away into memory….again very similar to the effects of both EMDR and the bilateral stimulation aspect of the 9 Gamut Point Procedure!
More About Bilateral Brain Stimulation
Finally, it also important to note that “bilateral brain stimulation” within EMDR is not restricted to eye movements alone. The bilateral stimulation is achieved through either rapid eye movements across the field of vision, auditory tones or clicks via headphones, or tactile stimulation of alternate sides of the body.
Obviously, bilateral brain stimulation, whether used in EFT or EMDR has the potential to assist the brain in processing stored emotions related to traumatic events, both big and small.
Whether it is in a successful EFT session, or in EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is significantly transformed on an emotional level. For instance, a war veteran shifts from feeling horror and shock to holding the firm belief: “I survived it and I am strong.” Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain result not so much from the therapist’s influence, but from the client’s own intellectual and emotional processes. The end result is that clients feel empowered by the very experiences that once haunted them. Their wounds have not just closed, they have healed and transformed. Given the similarities between the two techniques, it appears as though bilateral stimulation of the brain is the key to processing traumatic events and setting ourselves free!
Carol Prentice Bio
Carol Prentice is a certified Emotional Freedom Technique Therapist, Yoga Instructor, Registered Social Worker and Reiki Practitioner with a passion for helping others experience profound peace in their lives. With over 10 years of experience as a Therapist using different healing Energy Techniques she provides every class, workshop and private session with pure awareness and deep compassion. […]
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