Michael and I are excited today to share with you a particular practice that we’ve been doing now for well over a year. In fact, before COVID hit, we had done a relationship deep dive, a year-long program and during this program, we came up with this tool, and so we’ve been using it. We’ve been doing modified versions for many years and then recently, we’re come up with our own version of it. This exercise feels really good and is something that we want to share with the world because it’s been such a powerful tool for us.
Emotional Attunement Benefits
There are a couple of main benefits of such an exercise. The obvious ones are just harmony and being emotionally attuned really kind of takes away any of those feelings that may be under the surface that are not spoken. It brings them up to where we can deal with them and then create more harmony within the relationship. The other thing is that emotional release is one of the ways of kind of attuning to our spiritual depth within shamanic work. Being emotionally attuned allows the magic to start happening in the shamanic world, and that’s incredibly exciting. Michael and I have a very shamanic relationship. So we’ve had our share of big emotions that we needed to learn how to navigate.
When talking about harmony, it’s harmony through the conflict, and the conflict and misunderstandings. Attunement doesn’t mean there is just pure harmony and being constantly in the state of happiness. There’s going to be sadness. There’s going to be anger and all of the emotions, and it’s completely normal. But attunement allows us to recognize what they are and really feel them and accept what they are or work with them to change those emotions if they’re not appropriate for that relationship.
Feeling them first within ourselves and then feeling each other because a lot of emotions are so big, that you can’t hold them alone. As a part of the relational struggle is ‘I’m feeling this and I want you to feel it with me’, and that attunement is that feeling of ‘we’re the invisible instrument’. It’s not in the shadow where someone might feel that you’re feeling this anger, and think that it’s directed at them because they don’t know, but when once you’re attuned and conceal it, then it can come to the surface about what the anger is actually about.
Emotional attunement is that tool of starting to look into different realms and developing ourselves, evolving to a place where we can see a lot more of the shamanic. As I work from home and Michael doesn’t, when we have a little time together, we like to connect and invite each other to do an emotional weather report. This means we’ll dedicate 10-15 minutes to tune and practice. Sometimes, we do it walking, but you can do it in another way that suits you as well.
Emotional Attunement If You’re Not In A Relationship
You can also check in on these five questions if you’re not in a relationship. You can journal about it. A lot of times you will feel a certain emotion, and understanding where it’s really coming from can help you deal with it better and understand yourself better. Doing it regularly helps you get attuned to your own emotions. Emotional attunement doesn’t need to be practiced only in crisis or when you’re really needing to understand a certain emotion. This tool gives you access at any time to all your emotions, and you don’t have to be in a violent rage state to get in touch with your irritation or your frustration. You don’t have to be grieving to actually touch into your grief. Think of it as permission for the whole of who you are, which is sometimes contradictory as oftentimes, multiple contradictory emotions.
Human study researchers have actually done these brain research scans where they look at where emotions live in those different centers in the brain. We know we have a pleasure center, right? We also have a place that lights up when we are in rage and anger. So all these different feelings, scientists have grouped into four human emotions including and especially happiness. That’s a whole emotion and there are different shades of happiness, so we’re going to go over happiness and the order is important as well because there is the order of depth in the brain.
Emotional Attunement in 5 Steps
So, it starts off with the happiness and then we’re going to go into like, what are you angry about? What are you sad about? What are you afraid of? And then the fifth emotion which actually isn’t talked about in Western psychology, but it is in eastern psychology, the cultures that are more focused on meditation and inner peace, and that’s contentment. I did my exercise with Michael and below you can see our answers.
1. Happiness: What Are You Happy About?
Michael: I’m happy to be sharing this with you. We don’t do so many things together like this. And it feels really good to be teaching together with you.
KamalaDevi: I’m so happy about where we’re at relationally. We both have dates tonight and that idea of just genuinely being happy for each other.
2. Anger: What Are You Angry About?
Michael: I’m angry about our son Devin’s schoolwork and him not communicating to me as clearly as I had hoped.
KamalaDevi: I’m angry at myself. I do have some standards of my own writing goals and performance which are making me frustrated. How much integration and downtime I’m taking and its parts of conflict. I want to give myself the downregulation that there’s always a part of me that needs to dominate and say ‘It’s like you should be writing more’.
3. Grief: What Are You Grieving About?
Michael: I’m sad that I don’t have all the things that I would like within my own creative expression. I have so much to celebrate, but there’s still this nagging inside of me about not having written the music and performed the music, becoming a teacher in the poly world, etc.
KamalaDevi: There is a sense of loss around time spent reading a book with Devin, and I’m so enjoying that time. And it’s kind of a little bit of guilt, but it’s also like ‘Oh, I could have read so much anymore’. This could have been a deeper practice and I just can’t give him my all at the moment.
4. Fear: What Are You Afraid Of?
Michael: I fear that I might be too much of a disciplinarian with my son and by doing that, I might miss some of the love. So, I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to be a good enough parent to give him the tools that he needs to succeed in life and to be super loving at the same time.
KamalaDevi: So, at this moment I think there are some fears that I don’t even admit to myself around particularly how deep and exploratory our experimentations are with love and in community, and there’s a way in which sometimes, I’ll get sober and I’ll be like ‘we’re really going to the edge by sharing our love with people in the world’. It’s a small part, and mostly I’m courageous, but what I feel is that this is the point of no return, as we go into some territory and there’s no turning back. And as I speak, I kind of laugh because we are at a point of no return. Do these big adventures and then what if we lose it all, lose everything that we’ve built. I know that this kind of fear is a little irrational, but I wanted to voice it because a lot of people see me as fearless and courageous.
5. Contentment: What Are You Content About?
Michael: I really feel content about life and it’s kind of what it all comes down to. I’m getting older now as we all are. But, it’s sort of the contentment about death. Death is inevitable, it’s coming and I’m content about that.
KamalaDevi: I have a genuine sense that my needs are provided for. I have wants and desires but they are not coming from a place of need. I’m content not just because of my needs being satisfied around food and shelter, but all around family and connection.
Practicing Emotional Attunement
Doing an emotional attunement feels like digging into the well and revealing that what comes up each time we go down with a bucket, nourishes us. It’s very nourishing to do this practice. and it’s a beautiful exploration. If I sat down, I wouldn’t be able to say these are all the things that I’m feeling. And I am feeling them all the time anyway, either without Michael’s presence, they’re going on for me. So he will stop to check in or he will help me see what is happening underneath the time anyway. You’re making an important distinction between ‘are we exploring new things’ or ‘is it already there’. And just because I wasn’t aware of it doesn’t mean it wasn’t already happening.
We’re emotional beings. We have all of those emotions all the time. It really is kind of feeling into ourselves, about what is there, and it may be running us all the time, even though it may not be something that we’re thinking about specifically right now. It’s just recognizing that we are emotional beings and that we do have these emotions all the time. And what else is a gift is that Michael and I have a level of mastery and emotions. For some people, maybe anger management will be their emotional basis, or they will always be happy and can’t really figure out each other.
My emotional basis used to be grief. I was sad all the time. Massive depressive disorder was my diagnosis and when Michael today asked me what am I sad about, I had to come up with something I’m sad about because it’s just not my emotional home anymore. But the value of continuing doing emotional hygiene in each of these houses is super important because then I feel more. The full emotional range is more available to me. And I’ve really been exploring a lot in contentment, and that’s been kind of an underlying theme within my emotional body for the past several years. But, you need to go over all of these emotions, and not only focus on one, such as staying content all the time and not feeling anger or sadness. And the reason we call it a report.
If you give yourself permission to actually fear, feel it, and sometimes when you’re journaling or sometimes when you’re talking through it, you’re not necessarily reporting on what you’re feeling. You’re not necessarily feeling it, but I give you permission to actually feel it more like Michael and I have permission to, for instance, feel this anger. Getting some of it out. Run it. And let me vibrate through.
So just it’s really important as we do this work to do it holistically. Because you could do this whole exercise in your head. And it actually is just running a story. And that’s why you can slow down and take those breaths. With emotional attunement, you’re giving yourself permission to feel and feel with each other.