Free Your Mind

New touch therapy programs the brain to delete and refresh.


Photography by Daniel Hjalmarsson

By Tapp Francke

We live in a culture where stress is a common denominator. Work, money, relationships, family obligations and caregiving take over too much of our lives. The need to fulfill all of our roles makes us feel overwhelmed with anxiety. A little stress can be a good motivator, while too much can be detrimental to our health. The physiological changes that occur in our bodies when stressed can help us to stay alert, so that we are able to complete the task at hand, but chronic stress can work against us. The continuous activation of the nervous system starts to wear us down. The physical manifestations of chronic stress can include headaches, heart problems, and weight issues, to name a few. And women, according to the Cleveland Clinic, are the most susceptible.

When we are overwhelmed by the abundance of our obligations, self-care goes out the window. This compounds the problem of the “fight or flight” response, keeping us constantly revved up. How can we wind down? One way is with an Access Bars session. Stacy Cicola, an Access Bars practitioner and energy worker at STANDwellness in Water Mill, describes it as “a way to release the emotional center of the brain through touch.” Cicola says Access Bars is like “a reboot for the brain—similar to deleting old files off of a computer hard-drive.”

According to Gary Douglas, who developed the therapy, the Bars are 32 points on the head that when lightly touched and held, help to dissipate the electromagnetic charge of all the stored thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes that we have accumulated over time. Cicola reports that her clients experience greater mental clarity, awareness and focus, a heightened sense of self, improved sleep, relief of aches and pains, deep relaxation and calmness, more joy and happiness, and a decrease in anxious, depressive and addictive behaviors. Neuroscientist Dr. Jeffrey Fannin, PhD, studied the brain before and after a Bars session, and concluded that brainwaves slowed down to a theta state, and the spherical structure of the cells improved.

Intrigued but doubtful, I thought I would give it a try. I am a woman in the sandwich generation who juggles work, children and aging parents. As a result, I experience a lot of stress. I meditate, but only five to 10 minutes a day. Although I feel calmed by it, I don’t go deep. On the day I tried Bars, my mind was like a whirling dervish. As Cicola lightly touched different areas of my head, I noticed that my thoughts settled. Answers to the questions I had been contemplating became clear. By the end of the hour-long session, I felt very calm and with a sense of control that I had not come in with. I expressed this to Cicola. Her response to this was “every session is unique.” Some people have a big emotional release, where others feel tension relief or, like me, a new sense of mental order.

There are many ways to help your body to cope with stress. Meditation, exercise, journaling, laughter, massage therapy and deep breathing are my favorites. I can now add Access Bars to that list.