What is your window of tolerance?

Physical training is a fantastic mechanism for delivering mind training and mindfulness,  although I don’t often brag about it.

In this blog we look at Dweck’s Growth Mindset concept and the way in which it relates to Seigal’s  “Window of Tolerance” idea.

At its most basic level, many people come to Crossfit London so unfit and unskilled that starting a Crossfit journey seems impossible; However, both our clients and our coaches share a growth mindset. A growth mindset ( as popularised by carol Dweck)  praises the work you do and acknowledges that every skill and challenge we set can be mastered .

  Implicit in this theory is the idea is no such thing as a gifted athlete, merely one who has studied for longer and trained harder than you. Athletes who come to with a  fixed mindset often believe their performance is simply the result of natural fitness and gifted ability can often be undermined by failing to believe work is the secret. BTW. Work is the secret.

To effectively use your mind  training, you need  an understanding of the Window of Tolerance  as  discussed by Seigal

The “Window of Tolerance” (Ogden, et al. (2006); Siegel, 1999) is the optimal zone of arousal where you are able to manage and thrive in everyday life. Siegel & Bryson describe this as sailing within a river of well-being where we are able to respond to all that comes our way without getting thrown off course. We cannot control the wind, but we can manage our sails!

When we are outside of our window of tolerance, our nervous system responds by going into survival mode – fight, flight, or freezing. We can either feel overwhelmed and go into hyper-arousal or we can shut down and go into hypo-arousal. Our window of tolerance can be narrow or wide and is different for all people and at different times in our lives.

For many clients, a workout is an active meditation which helps them develop their window of tolerance. Each workout presents an effective method of being non judgementally in the present rather than being lost in thoughts about the past or worry about the future. Workouts that require the manipulation of heavy external objects, or the application of skill, requires you to “be there”.

Some workouts push clients outside their comfort zone: from aerobic into an anaerobic state. This means they directly experience body sensations, emotions, thoughts – whether they be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Bring there is crucial. This starts the process of regulating emotions and riding the waves of intensity.

Technically tricky workouts in a high-intensity environment teaches us to learn to respond, rather than react to or avoid difficulties.  The manipulation of weight and the scaling of moves help us to relate to ourselves and others with kindness, warmth, and compassion. Using the wrong weight and scaling is an ego running out of control. Go too heavy and you end up with a fight or flight reaction,  Going too light, you run the risk of  dropping into a hypo-arousal state

Mindfulness is present moment awareness. It means paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the body as they are happening and adopting an attitude of curiosity and compassion.

You’ll enjoy your next workout!

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