Learn the key ideas of the book by Elizabeth A. Stanley

Widen the Window

Achieving awareness by healing past trauma

Widen the Window is an interesting journey into the mind-body connection. Through telling her own story and the stories of her patients, Dr Stanley reconstructs the complex relationship between body and mind. She affirms that our memory is able to record even the smallest events at any given moment. When these recorded events relate to childhood trauma, a disassociation between mind and body sets in and can lead to illness and personality disorders. The link between trauma and stress is strong, and the boundary between past and present is blurred. In fact, stress presents itself as an amplifier of past trauma, which comes back to speak to us through gestures, reactions and chronic pain. If we do not apply ourselves to carefully rebuilding the alignment in our mind, between the logical part of the brain and the part always on the look-out for quick-fix solutions, the disconnect can lead to chronic illness. Widen the Window by Elizabeth Stanley offers a truly effective method to open the window to dialogue, so that past trauma and present disorders can realign and harmony can be regained.

Widen the Window
Read in 16 min.
Listen in 20 min.

Many useful tips to:

  • Provide further information on the link between trauma and illness.
  • Understand the importance of introducing a meditation practice into everyday life.
  • Live a full, balanced life in spite of the trauma still to be overcome.
  • Begin a journey of awareness to heal the trauma of the past.

The author of the book:

Elizabeth A. Stanley, Ph.D. is an American professor at Georgetown University. Author of the bestselling book, Widen the Window, she is also a consultant on healing past trauma. Using the Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT) she created, she helps people find a fresh start in the most challenging situations. The method is based on extensive work and over 15 years of research on the neurobiology of stress, trauma and resilience. For years, she has worked in the U.S. Army on various operations in Asia, Europe and the Balkans. She has practiced yoga and Mindfulness daily, since 2002.


The human body is an incredible, complex system which records and remembers everything that happened in the past

Elizabeth A. Stanley, just like many other people in the world, suffered trauma as a child. She was not completely aware of it until she realised that she could not see. She had a problem with her eyesight and was afraid she might go blind. When researching the possible causes of her blindness, she discovered the link between past and present, and she found that the traumas of our past speak to us in the form of illnesses. When the human body reacts, it confirms its desire to heal. Healing is not such an easy task, however, because seeking out that trauma which is hidden somewhere in our body means setting out on a long and tiring journey of discovery towards self- awareness.

Our entire human organism sends various signals, but then it is up to us to decipher them. Since the human organism is a mostly perfect machine that records and remembers everything,  it is also able to record new memories to heal the old ones. After years of study and practice, Dr Stanley formulated an actual healing method that goes by the acronym MMFS, and which stands for Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training, which is an effective therapy created for people who live in constant emotional tension. 

The approach is an individual and personal process carried out by continuous assessment of past and present. In fact, the only way to heal from a trauma is to find routes that lead you to identify exactly what you feel and that allow the knowledge you already have to emerge, knowledge that has always been hidden by your rational side.

A trauma can derive from big or small events, it can even come from a time your parents shouted at you with no explanation, so you never understood why it happened. What remains etched in the already fragmented memory is the unpleasant physical sensation, a contradictory emotion or an inconclusive thought. Unresolved childhood trauma causes various illnesses in adulthood.

The fact is that trauma changes our perception of reality and this becomes a problem as we enter adulthood. Most of the time we are unaware of the trauma we experienced, so we aren’t able to resolve it and we become unhappy. What is truly extraordinary, however, is that the body records everything, and it leads us to face different versions of the same dynamic to allow us to begin the healing process. Stress also plays an essential role here because it works as an activator in the body and mind.


The key ideas of "Widen the Window"

The human body is an incredible, complex system which records and remembers everything that happened in the past
The art of ignoring and hiding negative emotions and the metaphor of the window of tolerance
Causes of dissociation in adulthood can be found in our past
Illness as a psychosomatic manifestation of past trauma
If the thinking brain and the survival brain do not speak the same language they end up conflicting with one another, which leads to dissociation and illness
How can we heal from past trauma?
Take-home message

Try 4books Premium for free!