Eyemovement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a fascinating tool that can help process traumatic sensory aspects of an event, ( i.e. sounds, sights, thoughts, and feelings) using a simple series of lateral eye movements.
In the 1990’s an American psychologist Francine Shapiro noticed that when the body is asked to perform a repetitive task such as tapping from left to right on your chest or moving your eyes laterally from left to right, you tend to enter a trance state, allowing a past event to loosen its grip giving way to a new interpretive state. This can be particularly useful for PTSD, anxiety and those suffering from intrusive thoughts and other disorders.
But why are we suffering from anxiety, PTSD and the like? One simple answer: neuroplasticity. What fires together wires together. So, a repetitive thought or a memorable event is literally wired into the brain and likely on repeat, playing on and on in the background.
“We need neuroplasticity that is focused on unlearning…” Says Stanford Neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Huberman. [The effective therapies help you to bring yourself into a heightened state of alertness, focus your attention on the traumatic or negative event and pair it with something new.] Just moving your eyes laterally, from side to side while focusing on the event can begin the re-wiring process.
How can it be that something so simple as moving the eyes can help rewire the brain? While Neuroscientists do not know why eye movement seems to help, it is of interest that all the other organs in the system are linked through intermediary neural networks, while the eyes are the only organs with a direct link to the brain. They are the only organs that continue processing information during sleep through REM. And are the only organs that have fascinated scientists for years in their ability to help people process traumatic events through movement.