EMDR and Bi-Lateral Stimulation

EMDR is a therapeutic technique for healing trauma related problems. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of bilateral stimulation. This is stimulation which occurs in a left-right or right-left, back and forth rhythmic pattern. 

When people focus on stressful memories, and then concentrate on bilateral stimulation, they can reduce stress and anxiety, as research suggests. And the memories seem to be less distressing in the long term. 

Studies in bilateral stimulation led to EMDR. The technique produces a relaxation effect and psychological flexibility. So, through EMDR, thoughts are less bothersome and stuck in your head, and worry decreases. 

EMDR helps with stress and trauma because it activates both sides of the brain in a continuous manner. It puts you into a relaxed state and calms the amygdala, the threat detection center in the brain. So the brain lets it’s guard down, so to speak, and you can revisit stressful or traumatic experiences easier.

The experiences or memories are then re-associated with a positive state of being and become less stressful or less traumatic. This is because the brain and body are in a more positive state. These particular kinds of eye movements in EMDR have been shown to lessen the emotionally charged memories of past trauma. 

Professionals typically use EMDR and bi-lateral stimulation practices with patients. But a version can be performed at home alone and incorporated into your daily stress management practice. 

Dr. Laurel Parnell developed this particular practice to bring about more positive emotions and a greater state of well-being. As a caution, consult your medical professional before embarking on this technique.

EMDR Self-Practice

Sit in a quiet, comfortable place and close your eyes. Picture a positive resource: something like peace, joy, love, compassion from another person or an event in your life. 

Bring that to life with vivid detail picturing the sights, sounds, and feelings in your mind.

While you are imagining your scenario, tap your right and left shoulders or your right and left thighs back-and-forth in a continuous rhythmic pattern. Tap every half second so that you perform two taps in one second time both on the right and left side. 

You can incorporate this bi-lateral stimulation into a meditation session, or use it in conjunction with a visualization or affirmation practice. This technique can help you to really lock in positive emotional states and help you develop a better mindset throughout the day.

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