Window of Tolerance
“Your body is welcoming you home". Read those words, close your eyes, and feel into the sensations that arise. What do you feel? What do you notice?
In the yoga nidra training I was in last week (School of Sankalpa), almost everyday, I heard our wise facilitators say, “the subconscious is always in the present.” This phrase has stuck with me. I keep coming back to it. I have been deeply engaged with the studies on the conscious and subconscious for several years. I have found huge growth by contemplating the complexity of the human system and have taken time to understand how this mind and body works. I hadn’t yet heard that phrase though - “the subconscious is always in the present.”
I had an aha moment a few days ago. The subconscious system doesn’t “learn.” It is a storage system, a recording device, and simply executes from the stimuli it is fed from moment to moment. While the conscious mind isn’t bound by time; it can be fully present, yet it can also wander, and often does. While the conscious mind can wander, and we can be aware of the wandering mind, the subconscious does not discern between reality and fiction, past or present. It simply reacts to what it is fed and feels. The subconscious system is fed stimuli from various directions, and it reacts to protect and prolong survival.
For example, while watching a scary movie, as I was last night for my Halloween celebration, as I jump or squirm or hide my eyes, my conscious mind knows I am watching a movie, but my subconscious mind simply reacts in the moment and is present to stimuli it is fed through my various senses. The subconscious reacts as if that monster is in the room, and gets your system ready to fight, flight or fucking freeze up like a fainting goat.
Our subconscious mind is at the helm approximately 95% of the time. We need to understand how this system works, especially because of its massive influence and power over our daily lives. We are being affected every moment by what has happened in the past, yet the subconscious reacts as if it is all happening right now in the present. We get a cocktail of sensations, emotions, and thoughts that can become really confusing when we get lost in the hamster wheel of reactions. Rather, imagine what’s possible when you detach from the reactive and impulsive subconscious mind and develop a deeper relationship with your pure awareness and consciousness?
The Window of Tolerance is a term and tool introduced by Daniel Siegal in his amazing book, Mindsight. We see the nature of our animal mind to avoid what is uncomfortable and push or pull us towards instant gratification, which can lead us to numb out, to get distracted, or to try to make meaning out of all the uncertainty in life. When we know this system, we can sense into it as we get activated (hyperaroused) or lethargic and depleted (hyoparoused), and rather than act out from that state, we can soften, open, and become receptive as we acknowledge the subconscious workings of the mind while honoring the wisdom of breath and surrender.
From there we can hold space for our emotions. We can be with sensations as they arise like a wave and move to their completion; giving us access to the depths of our being rather than always acting out from the surface of simple pleasure or displeasure.
From being in this practice for several months now, I have witnessed my habits and patterns change drastically. I am no longer uncomfortable in my own body. I no longer sit in judgement or dis-ease and force my mind into positivity. I am living from a depth and connection to the many layers of who I am rather than simply being on the surface of the physical body and its aesthetics. I can feel when I get uncomfortable and now stay open to receive the wave and allow it to move, bringing me in touch with my intuition and pure state of consciousness on a daily basis. I no longer fear my emotions or get confused in my feelings. the house of my being is lit up, the windows are open, the doors are unlocked, and the air of breath and joy of music flows freely without restraint or fear.
I am so inspired to be in this work and to guide and teach others how to get back into the wisdom of their body. The process is simple, not easy. And I promise, it is worth it. Get curious and open yourself up, your body is waiting to welcome you home.