August 22, 2023

The Art of Attunement

Thomas Hübl further expands on Attunement– a relational mindfulness practice that allows our nervous systems to feel one another and transmit many layers of information. He explains that each of us contains a rich inner world that we must get to know in order to attune with others. When we create inner calm, we also create a safe space where we can be fully present with people in their authentic entirety. These attuned environments can lead to entire ecosystems of Attunement where deep emotional connections are fostered over time.

Thomas also explores how Attunement grants us greater social agency, or the ability to effectively transmit our inner gifts to the outer world. This quality is essential to activism and change-making as it deepens our care for the world and enables us to take action.

If you want to learn more about Attunement, you can order Thomas’ new book Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma―and Our World and sign up for his new self-paced online course: The Art of Attunement.

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“Attunement means that we are willing to be present with each other and meet each other exactly where we are.“

- Thomas Hübl

Guest Information

Thomas Hübl

Thomas Hübl is a renowned teacher, author, and international facilitator whose work integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions and mysticism with the discoveries of science. Since the early 2000s, he has been facilitating large-scale events and courses that focus on meditation and mindfulness-based awareness practices, as well as the healing and integration of trauma.

His non-profit organization, The Pocket Project, works to support the healing of collective trauma throughout the world. He is the author of the book Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds.

His next book Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma—and Our World will be published in September 2023 by Sounds True and is available for preorder at attunedbook.com

For more information, visit thomashuebl.com

Notes & Resources

Key points discussed in this episode include:

  • The importance of attunement in parenting, caregiving, and childhood education
  • How attunement offers grounding and new perspectives to those in distress
  • The idea that “precision is love,” and how attuning to someone’s deep specificity is fundamentally loving
  • How attunement to ourselves makes us more open to growth and change and supports our fluidity, vitality, and joy

Episode Transcript

Thomas Hübl: Hello and welcome to my podcast, the Point of Relation. My name is Thomas Hübl and today I want to take you on a journey to explore attunement. What does it mean – Attunement?

Attunement means that our nervous system has a tremendous capacity to feel and sense not only ourselves but also each other. So attunement starts with attunement to me, so that I begin to explore – wow – every one of us has such a rich inner world that starts with the sensations in our body that we can get to know much more. We can get to know our emotional system as much more, we can get to know the world of our minds and to be much more aware of our thinking or the patterns in our thinking, our belief systems, we can become aware of that which is aware. And then once we get to know ourselves more, which we also sometimes call “self contact” or “attunement to self.” And that’s a wonderful function to have available and be when we live in the world, because we’re kind of much more trained to be with ourselves. 

The same quality of attunement is possible with each other. And so when we talk to each other, when we pay attention and we are open to receive but also attuned and present with somebody else that we speak to or a group of people or situations, then my nervous system has a tremendous capacity to to pick up information so that they begin to feel certain things that maybe when I’m just consumed by myself in my own thinking, while another person is talking and thinking about other things in myself, so then I am not very well attuned, but attunement actually helps me to be more present. And then I can be attuned. I can feel your body when you speak. I can feel your emotions when you speak, I can feel what you say and what’s happening inside of you is either congruent or not congruent without judging either one of them. 

So we come more in touch with that the person is not just a black box that’s over there, but actually when we attune more, there’s a much richer data exchange. So we could say relating, the relationship that’s really happening right now is like a good Internet connection. I mean, the Internet’s strong data flows fast and the Internet is a bit reduced or sometimes breaks down. So then also the data doesn’t flow well. So it’s great that I have a lot of data in myself, but I can’t transmit it to the world and then that has impacts. And so the more I can transmit the data and the potential, the intelligence, the gifts, the skills that I carry inside and can transmit to the world, the more social agency I will experience and have impact in the world. 

So attunement is an amazing quality to have more social impact and attunement creates a sense of safety. When somebody is disturbed, and a friend of yours tells you about difficult things they go through. When you feel your friend, and you attune to your friend, your nervous system begins to, in a way, dance with your friend’s nervous system. The other nervous system recognizes that as safety, so it feels more held, more met, more felt, more seen. And that creates much more togetherness. And that is also great support for people that are in distressing moments to ground, to find a new perspective, maybe to see things that they cannot see when they’re too stressed and that’s an amazing support because when we practice that in our social networks, in our relationships, with friends, family, colleagues, we actually begin to create an ecosystem that is more attuned. 

So my attunement begins to spread around me and becomes an ecosystem of attunement because I invite my friends into deeper attunement. It doesn’t mean that they have to do it or not. But I am a bigger invitation. And the fact that we create more meaningful, deep, more intimate moments, connections, that’s something that stays with us, because I think every one of us knows that when we feel seen and felt – and then we have people that are really present with us, especially when we need it. It creates much deeper friendships, connections, marriages, work relationships because it creates an ecosystem of attunement.

In that ecosystem, we start to live. We all know if you live in an ecosystem with toxic water, it will affect everybody that lives in that ecosystem. If we create an ecosystem with more clean water, it will also affect everybody. It’s a healthier ecosystem plus healthier individuals. So it’s amazing to invest time into this and build skills and abilities. Then when we refine it, it means that we begin to practice with more and more people and circumstances because that’s something I can do all over. It’s kind of a relational mindfulness practice and it increases that once I feel somebody, then more data can flow. So there’s an initial attunement and then I pay attention. I pay attention to what my body tells me. And I pay attention to what my emotions tell me. I pay attention, of course, to the intellectual information,  and to the relational information. Sometimes when somebody talks about difficult things, we feel that the person is more in themselves. Sometimes when we share, we feel open and connected. And we don’t pathologize these movements because they’re important for something in that person’s life, protecting themselves was important. So we don’t have to pathologize anyone, we respect them and hold the space for it. And that creates, again, more safety, more trust. We don’t feel pushed. We don’t feel pulled somewhere. We can actually begin to be ourselves and be in the authentic experience. So that’s very helpful. 

And attunement, when we practice it longer also means that we begin to feel and see more. What I mean by that is that our body is the living record of our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And also partly the culture that we grew up in. So our body is the living hard disk of a lot of information, not just that happening now, but all the developmental layers that I went through and all the layers that developed beautifully and integrated themselves into a mature perspective on life, but also all the layers that couldn’t develop that well that got maybe hurt, wounded, traumatized and they’re still living at that age, frozen in time. And all of this makes us, composes us, including the information that we get from our parents, from our grandparents. Their ancestors are alive in us. 

When we say we feel somebody, there’s a spectrum of the person that is really their personal life now. And then there is like an elevator, or sometimes called the “elevator of consciousness,” all the developmental levels from when the person was born until today are actually here. We can refine our sensing or intuition, but also the data flow experience. We can be with people much more precisely. And I often say “Precision is love.” When we don’t have generic answers, when we have more attuned answers, and we don’t have generic opinions about things, but we really feel situations, we feel people, we feel circumstances, and then we respond to that, that’s love. 

Also when somebody is in a difficult time and what happens now actually activates some stress that is much earlier in the life already present, then we are more attuned. We become a more attuned holding space. And it’s true for our ancestors. Attunement is true for our lives and our biographies. But actually, the heart has much more data. It’s like a library, and you walk in the personal levels of the library, but also you can go into the ancestral levels. All the books about our ancestry are there, and we are growing in it at this time, many of the things that we say we think we write about actually have been said in one way or the other somewhere in history so we have been born into this richness of all the capacities, the mental, intellectual, societal, technological, scientific, emotional, physical abilities that life has – and so we can be more in tune with that. 

And so the ancestry – feeling our parents or grandparents as our great grandparents, as our ancestors, opens up a part of our nervous system, feeling that in each other (of course, this needs practice and training) but I’m speaking here about the beauty of how we enrich our life and when we are attuned we are also present because we cannot be attuned without being present. So attunement practices bring us more into the room where we are. We can do that in our organizations, in team meetings, in families, how we are with our kids, that attunement in childhood education and parenting is so important. So as teachers, as parents, as caregivers, as kindergarten teachers, or nursery teachers, we need attunement. Attunement means that we are willing to be present with each other and meet each other exactly where we are. 

Attunement also means I’m attuned as a citizen. I’m a citizen in this society and that society has certain dynamics. I must be present to those dynamics, but may not be present to all of it at once. But whatever life requires of me, I’m there. And so I become a more present participant and also citizen. And that has a co-creative efficacy wowI have social agency. I can change things in the world because I have gifts and because I have the data connection to the collective. Gifts and the data connection. And if we combine purpose and data collection, we have impact. 

Social agency means that I can translate gifts into the outer world. And it’s creativity, that’s intelligence, that’s innovation, that’s contribution. I’m willing to see something in the world I identified as because it relates to my skill set as part of my purpose, and I’m going for it. So that makes us a very kind of lively, creative, innovative participant in our society, and we need that because only together we can change and help develop the world for us to take care of the burning issues that we have. 

So attunement, for example, and activism is a very important skill set and likely combination, because sometimes we make enemies when we’re very passionate about something. But being more attuned opens many more doors. And so again, I have a passion, I have the data connection, and that’s what creates social agency.

And of course, not to forget that on the spiritual level, attunement is a way to listen to the future, become more quiet, calm inside. I can listen to how the future whispers inside. How it comes in the form of ideas, creativity, insights, revelations. The more I make space in myself, the more I am contacting the potential that is waiting for us to listen in order to become manifest as a world. And so attunement to that inner connection helps me to update myself to grow. And of course, development doesn’t end with our status of being a grown up. We are emerging, developing our whole life. The more we do that, we stay young, fresh, engaged. As we grow older, we stay more fluid, dynamic and I think that brings a lot of joy. 

Of course, attunement is how I identify what really needs my engagement. It strengthens care, how I care about the world, and how, of course, I am important in my life myself – but the world is equally important too. I find a good balance between how much I am centered in myself and how much I’m available for the world and that there is a healthy exchange and data flow. I believe that is the quality with which we want to be met, we want to be supported in our purpose and also supported in the moments when we struggle. And there’s somebody who says, Yes, I see you’re struggling. Come, let’s sit. Let’s be together. Let’s look at this together. When more and more of us practice attunement, we create an attunement ecosystem. 

Attuned ecosystems are much more creative. There’s less fear, there’s less stress, but there’s more care and participation and generosity. And I think that’s why practicing deeper attunement is important and this and much, much more. You can also try and in my new book, it’s going to come out on September 12th. It’s called “Attuned.” I’m sure if you’re interested in it, there’s a lot of great information practices and so forth. Yes, let’s bring attunement into her life. Let’s practice something that we can start right away with and we can practice and then see what works, what doesn’t work, what’s easy, what’s difficult, and not give up when it’s difficult. But actually, see, this is the fuel of our capacity, the growth and how we are more in tune with our environment and other people. I’m sure that will bring a lot of great qualities back to us because in the same way we appreciate to be really met, other people do too.