Attunement- what does it even mean?

This word is used a lot in conscious and attachment parenting- and I admit, on several occasions, over the last few years, I googled the meaning as I’ve practiced the Purejoy view.

What does attunement feel like? What does it mean to attune? It was not a word I was very familiar with or had a deep experiential understanding of.

What I found- a definition of attunement ‘is a kinesthetic and emotional sensing of others knowing their rhythm, affect and experience by metaphorically being in their skin, and going beyond empathy to create a two-person experience of unbroken feeling connectedness by providing a reciprocal affect and/or resonating response’.

Even right now- my word processing program wants me to correct the word- it doesn’t recognize it, and even though I’ve sat with this word before- I’m still mesmerized by just how significant this idea is in my parenting. How I was so unconscious to it- and have become more and more aware.

To attune.

What was alive in me was also alive in my child.

First, I started with noticing my own experience in the moments of parenting- the ones where I acted in ways that kept me in that mom guilt cycle we’ve been covering in the last few blogs

The next step was being with all that was coming up in me in my SafeSeat– the thoughts, the feelings, the behaviors- and the beliefs that they were rooted in.

I met SO many feelings I’d organized my life not to feel- so many. Shame, anger, sadness, rejection, powerlessness and even joy and delight. Those were feelings I didn’t have the capacity to process and resolve as a child- so they were buried and hidden and it took a lot of energy to keep them there.

Then, of course, my kiddos felt these feelings- in them, and looking for support for the big feelings and sensations in their body, THREW me the HOT potato of said feelings. 

Whew!!! In their innocence, they relied on me to be the grounding pole they needed to stay safe in their experience. 

But the truth was- that until I was willing to take a look at my patterns and open to the unresolved repressed feelings- I kept throwing that “hot potato” back as fast as I could.

Catching that hot potato would trigger the unresolved charge inside and I’d throw it right back at them in an overpowering move, or a hopeless collapse- so that we all stayed organized away from the true feeling.

The whole environment was set to my avoidance of the moment we were in.

Just take that in- the enormity of keeping all those feelings away, for everyone.

As a child that was so so wise- to stay in the love, but as an adult, what I know now- is that my body has the capacity to feel it, the intensity. I’ve felt to the depths of my being some of those feelings I learned to repress and their charges— and I’m alive and well, writing this message out to you today. I’m also enlivened in a new way since I’m able to ground the charges as they arise and actually experience my life force.

It’s not always easy to do the work- I’ve heard that several times from mamas who are sitting deeply with this same part in their parenting this week- and it is challenging, and somehow I also know it is so true, or good, or profound.

What do you notice? When you consider that it is possible to expand your emotional capacity- and then support your child in their whole experience of life?

Here’s a step to work on this week – when the emotional intensity comes (your kiddo throws you the hot potato).

Welcome it.

Put your hand on your heart- own the sensations, thoughts and feelings that live in and are being awakened in you as yours (not caused by your child).

Take a deep breath.

Take another one.

Keep breathing and sending the intensity down into your body- even into the ground below you.

Stay with the intensity in your experience- looking around you, noticing how you are safe in this experience now- as an adult. Offer yourself the tenderest kindness as you come home to yourself.