If you are like me, you weren't raised to tune into your body, mind, or spirit. Tuning in was something you did to television, or something you made fun of when your weird Aunt Susan told you how to breathe into your third chakra to release your blocked Chi from three lifetimes ago.
FFS, Susan. Can we just eat our lentil stew in peace, please?
What I didn’t understand then that I understand now, though, is that the practice of attunement is important. Vital, even. Attunement works on all levels of consciousness, body, mind, and spirit. They cannot be separated or divorced from each other. They create a perfect symphony to deliver messages and inspire you to listen and adjust.
Your weird Aunt Susan was probably right, even though she lacked effective ways to communicate about it in a not gratingly annoying way.
Just like anything else we aren’t raised to do, the learning curve can be steep. But take heart. It can be done. It takes practice to tune in. It takes practice to connect the dots. It takes bravery to accept what you discover.
You’re capable of doing it, though.
So, here are a few places and practices to get started on your attunement practice.
Before you try any of these exercises, try to consciously release any sort of self- or pre-judgment before you do anything else. You can just say “I release self-judgment now," or some other phrase that would make weird Aunt Susan shiver with awareness.
1. Notice how people make you feel. (Disclaimer: Nobody can “make” you feel a certain way, but you do innately feel certain ways with people. That’s what we are talking about here.)
Have you ever met someone who rubs you the wrong way? That’s an easy place to start. Now, take it a step further. How do you feel when you are with your best friend? When you part ways after an interaction with your boss, what feeling(s) linger? And how do you respond to those people in general? Attunement starts with noticing dynamics.
FYI — People remember how you made them feel long after you are no longer in their presence.
2. Notice what happens in your body when you eat different foods.
This is fun because it’s an experiment. There are no right or wrong thoughts or ways to do this, it’s just an exercise in noticing. For example: I eat an apple when I’m hungry. I don’t feel less hungry, in fact, I feel hungrier. That defies logic. I should feel satiated after eating a piece of fruit, not hungrier. But my body doesn’t think so, and I can honor its unique process when I tune in to what it’s telling me.
Note to self — protein makes me feel full and clear-headed.
3. Notice how you feel when you move your body.
Do you feel energized? Exhausted? Do you like the way running makes you feel, or do you feel pain in your body? How does that line up with messages you’ve received over the years? We hear a lot of talk about “no pain, no gain,” and that can influence how we perceive our own feelings of physical discomfort or suffering.
Newsflash — Pushing through pain can often be an attempt at pushing through old messages of shame or inadequacy. Honor your body’s message of pain. You don’t have to suffer. Unless you want to. Your body, your call, your decision.
4. Notice what makes you feel like a content person vs. a critical person.
There are a million degrees between and around our perceptions of being a good or bad person, so I’m not even going there. However, we can look at our spirits/higher self/Flying Spaghetti Monster-lettes through a slightly different lens.
What brings you contentment on a deeper level? This is a hard one, so hang with it. I mean beyond earning money or finding just the perfect throw pillow at Target or the feeling of satisfaction you get when you wash the dishes AND wipe down the counters before going to bed. What produces contentment for you?
For me, it’s naming all of the things I feel grateful for. It’s thanking people for being kind and naming the positives when I see them. I feel like a freaking awful person when all I do is find the negative in other people or circumstances. I darken my own light when I convince myself of the inevitable, unmistakeable, (and unknowable) impending doom that awaits me. And really, all of humankind. I can stop the critical spiral, and tune into what I can do about the real problem: ME.
Sidebar: This isn’t permission to ignore real problems or to live in denial, because that’s stupid. You know about the arctic ice shelf calf that’s the size of Delaware, right? Real stuff there. But I’m grateful to have access to layman’s environmental science so I can be proactive in response.
You can start practicing attunement on a micro or macro level, or anywhere in between. We are all taking baby steps, so go slow, go gentle, and leave room to experiment and discover more about who you are. Because ALL OF YOU is fantastic and you are worth getting to know.
And maybe your weird Aunt Susan wasn’t so far off the commune as you thought.