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Widen Your Window

Peeling back the layers of ourselves and touching into the parts we want to push away or avoid can leave us feeling depleted or simply not wanting to go there. To sit in the feelings of not-enoughness or some long-held trauma from the past that we honestly would rather run far away from, I equate to feeling as heavy as lifting a two hundred pound weight!

How do we feel it, heal it, and release it so we can uncover

that inner resilience?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.” Resilient people are more likely to bounce back from stressful or traumatic situations, and they demonstrate an optimistic attitude, opting to see the lessons in failure

Resilience in the capacity to quickly and effectively respond to stressors (internal and external, physical and psychological) as they arise, and return to a state of balance and clarity. According to Linda Graham, the 5c’s of Resilience are calm, clarity, connection, competence, and courage. Yoga and meditation become the doorways into self to connect to the center of calm, ease, and clarity.

Through that connection to self beyond the external world, we can find confidence in our REAL selves and the actual courage to show ourselves to those around us.

Dr. Brene Brown believes that resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving. She has done numerous studies and found shame gets in the way of resilience and she recommends recognizing our shame triggers, developing awareness around them, and being willing to reach out to others rather than hide and isolate ourselves. Holding ourselves lovingly accountable and stepping out of our own shadows when we feel ready and safe enough to do so.

When humans experience times of prolonged stress, we typically leave ourselves and as Dan Seigel puts it, “the window of tolerance,” as an optimal zone for the nervous systems. When we are in our window of tolerance, we can think clearly, receive and process information well, and respond appropriately to a situation. The brain can process the stimuli and the nervous system is flexible and adaptive. It is sometimes called tend and befriend, rest and digest.

When our systems get activated, we may leave our window and shift into fight or flight mode, hyperarousal or hypoarousal, the freeze response. An object of self care and self development is to widen the window of tolerance in both Top-down and a Bottom-up direction! Good news…….our brains can change.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to change. Science has proved that the brain CAN indeed change! This means that thinking and behavioral patterns, as well as emotional patterns, can all change! Hebb’s rule states that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” We ultimately want to utilize neuroplasticity for creating positive changes.

So how do we widen that window, especially as adults, when we feel so set in our ways? I am all about the saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but the truth is…..we can unlearn and reestablish new habits at ANY age!

Dan Seigel lists four ways to change our brains to create greater resilience. They include repetition, emotional arousal, novelty, and focus/awareness. If we bring these areas into our yoga and meditation practice, we can use yoga as a potent vehicle to create real and positive change in our lives.

Some other tips to build resilience include:

  • Prioritize connections and relationships

  • Take care of your body

  • Practice mindfulness

  • Join a group

  • Help others or volunteer

  • Be proactive about your emotions

  • Embrace where you are today

  • Remember you are not alone

  • Mindful yoga and meditation practices DO HELP

Here’s to widening your window and creating real change!

With love,

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