In this post Holly Hammond describes using finger holds for relaxation, perfect for busy Australian-based campaigners as we count down to federal elections.

I first heard of ‘fingerholds to manage emotions’ through a New Tactics in Human Rights online dialogue on self-care. I got the impression that this technique has been adopted by many human rights defenders around the world to cope with stress and trauma.

I’ve since given it a try and found it surprisingly helpful. It can be practiced anywhere, anytime. I’ve found it especially useful for settling my nerves prior to public speaking and helping me get to sleep when I’ve been wound up. Try it yourself and let us know how you go!

The following article is an excerpt from Capacitar International’s Emergency Response Kit which is available in a range of languages.

Fingerholds to Manage Emotions

The following practice is a simple way to work with emotions by holding each finger.

Emotions and feelings are like waves of energy moving through the body and mind. Through each finger runs a channel or meridian of energy connected with an organ system and related emotions. With strong or overwhelming feelings, energy can become blocked or repressed, resulting in pain or congestion in the body. Holding each finger while breathing deeply can bring emotional and physical release and healing.

The fingerholds are a very helpful tool to use in daily life. In difficult or challenging situations when tears, anger or anxiety arise, the fingers may be held to bring peace, focus and calm so that the appropriate response or action may be taken. The practice may also be done for relaxation with music, or used before going to sleep to release the problems of the day and to bring deep peace to body and mind. The practice may be done on oneself or on another person.


Hold each finger with the opposite hand 2-5 minutes. You can work with either hand.

 fingerholds (1)

Breathe in deeply; recognize and acknowledge the strong or disturbing feelings or emotions you hold inside yourself. Breathe out slowly and let go. Imagine the feelings draining out your finger into the earth. Breathe in a sense of harmony, strength and healing and breathe out slowly, releasing past feelings and problems.

Often as you hold each finger, you can feel a pulsing sensation as the energy and feelings move and become balanced.

You can also hold the fingers of someone else to help them through strong emotions.

fingerholds meridians
The technique is based on Polarity and Indonesian culture and is also connected to the art of Jin Shin Jyutsu, a Japanese acupressure technique. An alternative approach involving alternating the fingers and breathing is shown in this YouTube clip.

Facilitator’s notes for training people in the technique are included in the Integrated Security Manual, which is also the source of the graphic showing meridians.