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Attunement

photo by Amy Lenzo

In describing the series of online ceremonies I’m co-hosting with FireHawk Hulin and Pele Rouge over the next solar year, we talk about attunement:

“During this process we will dance with an older way of looking at time, one that is in relationship with the cycles and wisdom of the natural world, the way things actually are. When we move in supportive relationship with the natural cycles of Earth, we establish patterns in our lives that are life-giving, nourishing, and in harmony with the larger rhythms of life.”

“(This is a) … “tuning” ceremony, bringing us each into our own direct relationship with the medicine of Earth.”

To begin preparing the container for this timeless journey, FireHawk and I created a basecamp to serve as the ground for our expedition; its design based on the four directions of a Medicine Wheel. In the South, we placed an intention for “Attunement”.

The South is all about relationship, the place of feeling and emotion. We placed attunement there to remind us that we are aligning ourselves in relationship; with our own inner life, with those that are journeying with us, and with the natural world we are all part of. Attunement requires that we slow down and listen to the quieter voices, so often missed in the bustle of daily life, to find the deeper patterns we want to attune to and synchronize ourselves with.

The importance of slowing down points to the key role that time plays in understanding attunement. The Quadrivium, first formulated and taught by Pythagoras, addresses this connection quite literally by talking about attunement in terms of music:

“Its rhythms move our hands, feet, and bodies to the pulses of the universe.”  

“When music is married to language, then what is spoken becomes song, elevating the intentions and entreating us to listen more deeply, making the profane sacred.”


I learned something wonderful about attunement from psychoanalyst Virginia Satir, who was an NLP pioneer before there was an NLP. Attunement was something she did intuitively, and as the practice was formulated through the work of Richard Bandler and John Grinder, it came to be called “matching and mirroring”. What that means is matching your breathing pattern, your heartbeat even, to the person you are wanting to get close to. By subtly following the movements of their body with your own, you can come into harmony, into attunement, with them.

What is it to match and mirror the natural world, I wonder … ? To bring our small bodies into harmonic resonance with the larger body of the Earth? What happens when we slow down to the Speed of Life and match our breathing to the waves of tall grass in the wind, when we mirror our heartbeat to the rhythm of ripples across the sea?

photo by Amy Lenzo

The other day I was on Mount Tamalpais, a sacred mountain just north of the Golden Gate bridge not far from where I live. Mt Tam is sacred to me, as it was to the First Peoples who took nourishment from her streams and vistas, and I wanted to introduce her to FireHawk in honor of his birthday.

FireHawk and I are photographers. Photography is an art we both approach as a way of communing with the beauty of this world. For us, the camera is an instrument of connection rather than objectification. We can (and do) wander wordlessly for hours, connecting with the beauty around us through our senses and the camera lens that extends and focuses vision…

(the above photos are FireHawk’s)

Shade, and Light. Broken acorns wedged into the holes of a woodpecker’s bountiful cupboard. Cool soft moss under the shade of the trees where we ate our lunch. The tiny brilliant centers of the blue eyed grass; the California poppies and grape hyacinths that grace the landscape this time of year. They cluster around each stone in the natural stone circle we found hidden in a fold of the mountain.

The long rolling shape of the hills soothes my eyes and ignites my spirit in some primeval way. I find myself drinking in the music of this mountain, so dear to me, through every pore. We completely lose track of time…

Spending most of the day on the earth’s warm and fecund flesh brought us both to a place both peaceful and powerful. A place of attunement – of harmonic resonance – with the mountain and the elements that adorn her. Sheltering in her shadows, walking on her grassy surface, sleek like some great lioness, the soft fur on her belly rippling silver in the breeze… For this afternoon I am one with this great mountain, and her song is my own.

I’m looking forward to this journey with Earth Medicine, and to exploring practices that will help us weave a deep attunement with Earth into our everyday lives, each of us in our own ways. If you are drawn to join us, please be in touch. We start Sunday, May 28th, and there is a place for you in the circle.

(here’s a link for more information, and one to register now)

photo by Amy Lenzo

Comments

  1. Amy!
    I too fondly remember Virginia Satir and her insistent, powerful teachings moving us all from distance and resistance to the other into attunement – a powerful resonance with the other – within oneness where nothing was lost and all was found. Perhaps I would have run into you hiking “my” Mt. Tam if I’d been in town, but I was on Molokai leading my yearly women’s retreat.

    Your blogs bring a deeper breath into my spirit – have I remembered to tell you so? Perhaps not as often as I could.

    I look forward to seeing you soon!
    Fondly,
    Karen

  2. Thanks for lifting up this wonderful word “atunement.” I suspect this is why tone of voice is so important, and why yours when facilitating on-line is so welcoming and supportive. I really resonate with your evocation of the value of slowing down to “nature’s speed” and taking time to breathe, and feel the sun, and simply gaze at things long enough that they come to life.

    But I also had an interesting thought about atunement when related to our inner experiences and knowing. Increasingly I find that simply relaxing and paying attention to the inner harmonies across a whole stack of experience will yield better insights than planful forcing of my ideas. I imagine this sensation is closely connected to what people mean by following a hunch or trusting their intuition. I’m reminded of a book someone sent me a few years ago called The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older, by Elkhonon Goldberg. He is speaking to this inner resonance across experience–our inner atunement.

    And I think about how powerful the circle way can be, when everyone commits to both inner and outer atunement across a whole group’s range of experience, so that conversations soar and lift with the force of orchestral music in the hands of masters. Of course hockey and all the crashing around can be interesting at other times.

    Thanks for writing into the open space of my day.

    • Yes!!!

      I love your reference to how relaxing and letting the inner harmonics across a wider range of experience yields particularly fruitful insight.

      How that too feels like a kind of attunement … related to the “gazing at things long enough” that you picked up on.

      It feels a little like the “soft eyes” of meditation, where the attention of one’s gaze is somewhere between inner and outer… and that liminality creates a kind of bridge between the two.

  3. Hi Amy,

    This week I’ve been facilitating a meeting at Earthrise in Petaluma. It’s a business meeting but we’re taking time to meet outside and do ‘walk and talks.’ During our takeaways check in last night folks in the meeting expressed amazement at how refreshed they felt – even after two days of meetings on some tough topics. I gave a nod to the land around us for creating that feeling of regeneration people felt. Would that we could do all our meetings surrounded by the container of the beautiful earth!

    Thank you for your blog – it is inspiring.

    Best,
    Laurie

  4. Such poetic writing, Amy! Truly transporting! And, a great reminder of the importance of slowing down – so much of our growth is accomplished and integrated in the silence and downtime. Love that you are writing again!

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