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Increasing window of Distress Tolerance

The process described is a form of somatic therapy, which focuses on the connection between the mind and body to address emotional issues. Pendulation, as described, involves alternating attention between distressing sensations and those of calm or neutrality. It's a method aimed at expanding one's "window of tolerance" for difficult emotions and sensations, particularly useful for individuals with trauma histories.

Here's a breakdown of the steps involved in pendulation:

Select a Distressing Event: Choose a recent distressing event to focus on. This could be something relatively minor or more significant, depending on your comfort level.

Observe Sensations: Mindfully observe any emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations that arise as you recall the event. Pay attention to areas of tension or discomfort in your body.

Describe Distress: Choose a word to describe your distress. This word can represent a sensation, emotion, color, or image associated with the distressing feelings.

Identify Calm or Neutral Sensation: Shift your attention to an area of your body where you feel calm, peaceful, or neutral. If you can't find a positive sensation, look for an area that feels neutral.

Describe Calmness: Choose a word to describe this calm or neutral sensation, similar to how you described your distress.

Alternate Attention: Begin alternating your attention between the distressing sensations and the calm or neutral sensation. Stay with each sensation for a few breaths before shifting to the other. Connect with the descriptive words you've chosen for each sensation.

Repeat Rounds: Perform several rounds of alternating attention, noticing any new sensations that arise in your body. Follow any impulses to move or release tension until you feel a sense of resolution.

Practice and Progression: Once you feel comfortable with the practice, you can try it with distressing trauma memories from your past. However, if this feels overwhelming or if you're new to the process, it's recommended to work with a somatic psychotherapist familiar with trauma therapy techniques like Somatic Experiencing®.

This practice aims to help individuals build resilience to distressing emotions and sensations by learning to tolerate and navigate them more effectively. Over time, it can lead to a greater sense of emotional regulation and well-being.


 Take some time to write about your experience of your pendulation practice. What were the descriptive words you chose? Where did you feel distress in your body? Where did you find a calm or neutral sensation? What did you notice as you alternated your attention between your distressing and calm or neutral sensations?

At your service

with Love and Gratitude


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