Coming home through attunement
In my last post I talked about “coming home” to yourself as a process of attunement. Now I want to explain more about what I mean by attunement, and to talk about what it feels like, and how you can experience it for yourself. Attunement of our perception is a little bit like “tuning” an instrument. I play the cello, and before you play music on a cello or any stringed instrument, you usually tune it. You adjust the tightness of the strings until they vibrate at a certain pitch. Why do we do this? Because we’ve learned throughout the ages, that at these tones the strings resonate with one another, their movement expands, creating a sound that’s beautiful because it vibrates in harmony with the other strings. Its sound becomes less individual, amplifying as it moves and is moved by the other strings. Attunement to ourselves and to others at a somatic level is very similar. It’s a process of creating resonance. The first step in this process, which I’ll lead you through here, is just to feel the physical sensations and impressions within our bodies.
Attuning to Sensation
Find a place to sit or lay down comfortably. You can lie on the ground or sit up vertically in a relaxed posture. Take about 5-7 minutes to do this exercise if you can, though you can also do the exercise for just a few minutes if that’s all you have. Close your eyes and simply observe for a few moments what kinds of sensation you feel in your body, without changing anything. Remember that sensations are neutral and tactile. Some words to describe sensations could be: hot, tingly, soft, prickly, cool, hard, gelatinous, brittle, expanding, contracting, fluid, stringy, sticky. There are infinite kinds of sensations that we can feel. Part of the excitement of this work is deepening our capacity for sensing and describing new sensations, things we have never experienced before in our bodies. Allowing ourselves to have new experiences without limiting this newness through the mind is more challenging than we might expect.
Where in your body do you feel more sensation, where do you feel less sensation? What is the quality of the sensations you feel? Do you feel intense, vivid sensations, or do the sensations feel more vague or dull? How do the sensations shift as you pay attention to them? As you focus on a particular sensation, does it intensify, dissipate, or stay the same? Whatever you feel, stay neutral. The most important aspect of this exercise is feeling and observing what you feel without making it mean anything.
Now observe the relationship of your body to gravity. Notice the contact that your sit bones (the pointy bones on either side of your spine) are making with the ground. Which sit bone do you feel more sensation in, the left side or the right side? Does your weight feel like it is resting forward or backward on your sit bone? Stay in a place of feeling, instead of thinking, as you are doing this. Again, try not to make this exercise mean anything. It is simply an opportunity to sense.
Now notice the movement of your breath. Notice where you feel your breath moving in your body, and notice the quality of the movement.
Once you are ready to complete the exercise, notice how your system has moved and shifted after taking this short time to sense deeply. This is the first step in practicing attunement. In my post next week we will explore the concept of the “imprint” to deepen our understanding of how trauma impacts our capacity to sense deeply in our bodies, and how attunement can be a resource for working through traumatic patterns.
If you’re interested in learning more about using attunement to ignite your creative process, join me for my upcoming evening Embodying Creativity classes at Somaspace (4050 NE Broadway Street Portland, Oregon 97232):
Friday, January 17, 2020, 7-10 pm
Friday, February 21, 2020, 7-10 pm
And as always, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register for classes (drop-ins welcome) and to schedule private in-person or Skype sessions.