Elizabeth A. Stanley, PhD

Widen the Window

No matter how much you may struggle today because of stress and trauma in your past, you can train yourself to be more resilient.

During the course of her pioneering research into coping with adversity, prolonged stress exposure, and trauma, Dr. Stanley has worked with neuroscientists and stress researchers to test her game-changing resilience training program among U.S. military troops. She’s taught these tried-and-tested methods to thousands of individuals who work in high-stress environments.

Reflecting on her own experiences of stress, trauma, and recovery, her approach is at once personal and wide-ranging. With plenty of stories from the people she’s trained, she explains the science of how to direct our attention to perform under stress and recover from trauma.

The more we can access agency over our own situation, and rewire our mind and body, the more we can widen the window within which our “thinking brain” and our “survival brain” work together cooperatively. By building our resilience in this way, we can train ourselves to make wise decisions and access choice—even during times of incredible stress, uncertainty, and change.

Widen the Window takes on the “top-down” thinking brain-dominant tools that still dominate most performance enhancement and resilience programs—and mental health care practices—in America. As she explains, the newest scientific findings about the brain, nervous system, and body suggest these techniques are incomplete, especially for recovery after trauma. Stress arousal and recovery are survival brain jobs. Thus, widening the window requires targeting the survival brain with “bottom-up” strategies, which many mainstream techniques neglect.

Discover mind–body tools to help you cope with stress, become less driven by compulsions and emotions, recover from trauma, and enhance your resilience so you can live a truly whole life once more.

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What People Are Saying

This book should be read by all national security professionals desiring a sustainable, productive career in a high-octane environment…. Rarely does a book come along that is readable, yet grounded in scientific research, that has the ability to literally change lives.”

Tammy Schultz, Ph.D., review in War on the Rocks

Widen the Window is a comprehensive overview of stress and trauma, responses to it, and tools for healing and thriving. It’s not only for those in high-intensity work, but for everyone.”

Mindful Magazine

“I don’t think I have ever read a book that paints such a complex and accurate landscape of what it is like to live with the legacy of trauma as this book does, while offering a comprehensive approach to healing that is simultaneously based on both on the author’s own personal experiences and journey into health, as well as on a thorough scientific understanding of the underlying issues about the ways that mind, brain, and body are affected by traumatic stress.”

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, author of The Body Keeps the Score

“This high-octane book could give you back your life. When we experience dysregulation, we have to reclaim our core capacities and develop them to serve our health, performance, and quality of life. Liz Stanley expertly maps an inner adventure through training our attention and ability to stay grounded in highly stressful situations.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, author of Full Catastrophe Living and creator of mindfulness-based stress reduction

“This book holds a template for enhancing performance—attention span, focus, rapid recovery from shock and stress.  Although I was initially skeptical, I became convinced when I was able to see and understand the supporting science, in particular the data that show physiological changes. These outcomes hold value in all environments and conditions, and can help people gain more mastery of their bodies to improve their daily performance and their overall lives.”

Major General (Ret.) Melvin G. Spiese, former commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Training and Education Command

“A remarkable, thorough, and important work, tackling the traumas and difficulties of modern times, and offering truly wise and empirically proven remedies for the individual and for our society.”

Jack Kornfield, PhD, author A Path With Heart

“In this pioneering work, Liz Stanley invites us to understand and embrace the practice of training our brain and body to thrive and recover. Equal parts teacher, scholar, warrior, whistleblower, healer, hero, and sage, Liz is among the rarest of souls, whose character, strength, courage, grace, and compassion serve to illuminate and inform our all-too-human journey towards healing, wholeness, and wellbeing.”

Loree Sutton, MD, Brigadier General, US Army (Ret.), Founding Director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury

“Dr. Stanley writes with a clarity and intelligence that results in a truly accessible work on understanding stress, trauma and a path to healing. This is one of the most important books on meditation since Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living. Widen the Window is about a pathway beyond self-improvement to self-understanding.”

Gary Kaplan, DO, author of Total Recovery

“Our frantic culture generates trauma and stress that limit our capacity to live full and healthy lives. Widen the Window is a clearly written guide into our shocked physiology and a time-tested, practical method of regaining power over it, through awareness and attention.”

Gabor Maté, MD, author of When the Body Says No: Exploring The Stress-Disease Connection and In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts

“Stanley offers a brave and skillful journey through her personal experiences and the science of stress and trauma. This is a stark look at how society defines strength and success. She gives us an opportunity to rethink and shift our approach to strength and resilience. A must-read for the many driven individuals who find themselves victims of their own success.​”

Sarah Bowen, PhD, author of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: A Clinician’s Guide

“Like all things in life, it is how we manage—not just cope—with the pressures that envelop us all. Dr. Stanley has written an exceptional book about understanding, relating to, and controlling stress and trauma.”

Chuck Hagel, former U.S. Secretary of Defense

“Our ‘suck it up and drive on’ culture has seriously impaired both our country and ourselves. In Widen the Window, Liz Stanley give us the tools we need to recover from challenges, perform at our best, and create a better way of being, both individually and collectively. This book is a must-read for everyone who cares about our future together.”

Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Healing America

“At a time when our culture is catching up with the physical, mental, and social costs of stress and trauma, Elizabeth Stanley, in her groundbreaking book, brings a new and much needed understanding of how these phenomena are intimately linked, and how we can heal them. A must-read for anyone who is in the helping professions.”

Richard Strozzi-Heckler, PhD, author of In Search of the Warrior Spirit and The Leadership Dojo

“In Widen the Window, Elizabeth Stanley takes us on her profound journey into experiencing, understanding, and treating the devastating impact of trauma…and the important role that the autonomic nervous system plays in our mental and physical health. These experiences have enabled her to develop an innovative treatment model to provide the heroic survivors of trauma with tools to enhance regulation and resilience.”

Stephen W. Porges, PhD, author of The Polyvagal Theory and Distinguished University Scientist and Founding Director, Indiana University’s Traumatic Stress Research Consortium

“Dr. Stanley’s book offers invaluable insight on how to handle the stress of everyday life as well as more severe emotional trauma. Her strategies should be a lifeline for military veterans dealing with the wrenching memories of combat, but also for all of the rest of us trying to deal with the mental strain of our lives. Most important, this book offers hope. It shows a path to better mental health.”

Congressman Adam Smith, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee

“This is an authentic and authoritatively written book. Dr. Stanley is uniquely qualified to deliver this important material and has done so in an accessible and engaging manner.”

Judson Brewer MD PhD, author of The Craving Mind

“Full of stories mixed with science in a friendly, stimulating and hopeful read, this pioneering book offers an exciting new perspective on stress and trauma. Explaining that we often fail to recognize, and thus neglect, the effects of such ordeals, author Liz Stanley teaches the reader how to exchange maladaptive conditioned responses for new, adaptive strategies that increase concentration, enhance performance and heal mind and body. By integrating top-down with bottom-up approaches, our windows of tolerance can be widened, both individually and collectively, bringing out the best in humanity.”

Pat Ogden, PhD, Founder of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute

“Drawing from her personal experience as a longtime meditator, trauma survivor, training in trauma-oriented therapies, and teacher and researcher of mindfulness-based programs for high-stress, high-trauma populations, Dr. Stanley’s Widen the Window provides an accessible and valuable contribution to the burgeoning field of trauma-informed mindfulness.”

Willoughby Britton, PhD, Director of the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Brown University Medical School

“Liz Stanley has opened a window onto a promising new vista for human healing and thriving. Her powerful insights transform the narrative of how societies and organizations approach (and often ignore, dismiss, or deny) trauma. She offers a state-of-the-art understanding of how traumas are formed as well as effectively repaired. For people whose work routinely puts their lives on the line––and pay a terrible price for it––she offers a ray of hope.”

Jeremy Hunter, PhD, Founding Director, Executive Mind Leadership Institute, Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management