Rapid Anxiety Relief: A Practical Use of Eye Movement Integration
by Jan Prince, NLP Practitioner & Trainer
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
When an individual is experiencing stress symptoms or anxiety I find that what they are usually doing internally is running an auditory/visual tape loop of their worst fear over and over, causing a strong negative kinesthetic response.
Using the Eye Movement Integration pattern shakes up this dysfunctional loop and allows all of the mind’s resources to attend to the problem. Example:Joe was referred to me by an associate in a nearby city. When we talked on the phone he was in bad shape. He had been with a hi-tech firm for many years which was going through a traumatic reorganization. He did not get along with his new boss and his job was being phased out. At 55 he felt unprepared to search for new employment, yet the existing situation was stressful with a ‘no win’ ending.
I couldn’t fit him into my schedule for a week, so I gave him the instructions on how to do the EMI process, having him do it while we were on the phone. He noticed that his field of vision seemed to expand and that he felt more hopeful.
Once we began meeting to strategize his job search, looking at and transforming his limiting beliefs and behaviors, we continued to use the EMI in the session whenever he became fearful and again at the end of the session to organize and integrate his learnings. It became a process he used daily during his successful transition to a new position within the large company.
When I took the NLP practitioner training twenty some years ago I remember utilizing the different eye movements to detect which representation system a person was using at any time and to elicit the use of a particular rep system by having the person look in the direction aligned with that rep system.
Some years later at an Educational Kinesiology workshop I learned how to use cross-lateral eye movement to help balance and integrate left and right hemisphere processes: While holding your head still, follow the movement of your finger tip with your eyes. First, move the finger up to the left and down to the right 8 times, then up to the left and down to the right 8 times; making an X movement.
At an advanced NLP training (sorry, can’t remember which one) I learned the EMI process which was the X movement with a box around it; made by moving the eyes from left to right at visual level, then up right to down right, down right to down left, and finally down left to up left. This process activated and exercised the whole brain and all the rep systems.
Over the years I have used this X and Box exercise in many ways that you may also find useful in daily life in your psychotherapy practice, training situations, group facilitations as well as personal situations.
Breaking tense situations and integrating information in groups
When facilitating meetings or conducting trainings I find that EMI is an effective “break”. When emotions start to flare during negotiations or group discussions I use it to help the participants expand their perspectives and calm emotions.
Believe it or not, it is an easy “sell” to get any group to try it. I simply explain that the technique is a way to balance right/left brain functioning and to calm things down. I then demonstrate it on myself and invite the entire group to follow suit. They figure as long as I am willing to make of fool of myself in front of them, they might as well give it a try!
I’ve had people tell me that the group has continued to use this process to take breaks and at the conclusion of meetings on a regular basis—it’s become their positive anchor.
Whenever I am going through a particularly stressful time in my life, or I am preparing to take on a new endeavor that might cause some anxiety, I use EMI twice daily. When I awaken in the morning and before I get out of bed, I’ll do several iterations of the X and box and then again throughout the day when I take a break or before I go to sleep. It invigorates my thought processes and calms my nerves.
I also use it with a client who is elderly and to whom changes come with trepidation and confusion. When I do the EMI with him he seems to feel more positive and resourceful about his transitions and sometimes comes in only to chat and have the EMI process done!
I tell people it is the easiest, cheapest antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug around. Give it a try!
Eye Movement Integration (EMI), developed by Connirae and Steve Andreas, is NLP’s kinder, gentler, more rapid and effective precursor to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. (EMDR).
Jan Prince has been a coach and presenter since 1984. She is a master certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner who has taught communication skills and conflict management for international firms such as Nokia, Ericsson Telecom, the Helsinki Summer University, and Kaiser Permanente. She has had a private psychotherapy practice in Denver for over 30 years.
Ms. Prince has taught Practitioner and Master Track trainings for NLP Comprehensive since 2001. Author of numerous articles she co-authored the book, From the Inside Out: Building A Healthy Identity, a workbook on using NLP for therapists and coaches published in English, German and Finnish.