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tributaries of attunement

Updated: May 1

The night sky grows darker and reveals it’s saturation—an illuminating sea of star-lit wonder. Winter’s hum envelopes the narrow valley, revealing the vivacity of sound that emerges from silence. The snow began here tonight, inviting the bare bones of attunement for attending to the beauty before us and within us. The patterns tell the stories of the journeys of belonging. What might emerge from the creative fires of the attuned symphonies of renewal with the earth? –Colleen Bishop

enchanted valley wilderness vision quest

Imbolc / Mid-Winter Musings

Blessed Mid-Winter/Imbolc, Allies,

I hope this message meets you with an elongated exhale--deep, vibrant, release—followed by an inhalation of connection, belonging, and presence in this moment. This time of mid-winter reminds us to look back on what has come before, the communities that have kept us and guided the way forward through both the light and the dark nights. It is also a time of vision—seeing clearly—this moment, and awakening discernment to see and understand what structures and forms need to dissolve for the creative fire to ignite with attuned prana (i.e., breath/life-force). The mid-winter is a time of distillation—distilling the essence: What forms, structures, stories, teachings, ordinaries, and social constructs have been carried through generations or just a season and need to dissolve in the sacred fire to create space for the possibility of new beginnings, of spring? And what is the essence that is to be extracted from within and carried to the sacred fire to ignite creative conception/beginning? What might emerge from the creative fires of the attuned symphonies of renewal with Earth?

At this time of mid-winter, I feel my own body and soul reaching toward the warmth, sunlight, and symphonies of renewal; yet I simultaneously experience my body and soul reaching toward the illuminating sea of star-lit wonder and the symphony of silence of the dark womb of winter from which sound and life-force emerges.

Why attunement? A driving force in our human lives is to cultivate regenerative connections with oneself, other humans, and the world. Attunement is an intersubjective multimodal resonance between the subtle internal state of two (or more) individuals which promotes regulation. Attunement is an essential tributary that feeds the river of unwavering attachment. The process of attunement occurs through the interweaving the subtle inner states in a way that produces synchrony and yields the somatic experience of feeling felt (Siegel, 2007) by another and reflected in the dyadic flow of energy, information, and affect from one individual to another. Attunement promotes the process of interpersonal coregulation and precedes the neural state of integration—which thereby forms a foundation of receptivity for affect-regulation, secure attachment, coherence, and wholeness.

This past week I have been exploring patterns of reaching through my spine—How do I reach? How do I reach in? How do I reach out? How do I receive being reached?

A billion white crystalline snowflakes yield toward the ground,

playing in silent symphony with the dark night.

I discovered that there is a lot of exposure in reaching—a lot of “seeing”/visioning and sensing becomes accessible and attuned. Perception is enhanced—developing sensitivity, discernment, vulnerability, and depth. Reaching with spine widens my periphery: What is possible? An inward and outward orientation yields into Earth with resonance.

I have been carrying inquiries about attunement with nature for some time now, and I have recently begun the delicate transition of crafting words to convey these preverbal and somewhat instinctual inquiries: What might somatically attuned relationships that foster secure attachment with nature look like, feel like? How might attuned relational dynamics impact Earth and all species? And, how might we, as humans, in the process of becoming aware of own our regulation, attunement, and misattunements within our intra- and inter-species relations, cultivate and enact repair for reattuning that “regulates the people and the planet together” (Johnson, 2018, p. 9).

It is humbling to live here, exposed to the elements. There is no protection. We are vulnerable… The challenge is to live in the midst of so much beauty. How to love this world? And share it? We must make time, take the time to allow for natural diversions in our day. We have made a cult of busyness and in so doing we have forgotten the simple truth of paying attention to the view before us, between us, in a word, a cultivation of intimacy. In nature, our intimacy with the land becomes our intimacy with each other (Williams, 2012, n. p.).

I listen to these from Terry Tempest Williams, and I feel my body pause. I am transported to a moment of attunement—living in the midst of so much beauty:

My Beloved and I sitting and standing at a threshold that kept us for the duration of a 217 mile hike with the wilderness this summer. Upon arriving to the threshold, the sun had recently arced behind the ridge in the west. One thing we learned on the trail was that this is a very vulnerable time—a lot of exposure—to below freezing temperatures, to the wildlife whose home we were in, to dramatic changes in weather, water access, and to the dark. We reached for our warm layers and began to dress—saying yes to live in the midst of the beauty while staying loyal to our promise to return. Adjacent to us was Lake Creek—a tributary feeding the Arkansas River. I could feel the steady pulse of the current throbbing beneath the hard-packed soil and granite that forms the creek’s passage all the way into the base of my spine—with a rhythm of flow beginning to intensify. It was just before midnight when we offered our deepest gratitude to the land and all her beings for keeping us and accompanying us for 21 days in the wild. Our hands were interwoven with love and warmth, encircled by thresholds of stone, river, coyote, mystery, and touched by the wild fecund of nature’s grace. We stood together the edge of thethreshold, and just as we said yes to carry the gifts of intimacy that we received and awakened with the wild and one another in this new year of sacred union, the moon—in all of their fullness—arced over the 14,000’ range in the Collegiate Wilderness and revealed their illuminating presence. A doorway appeared. We entered—awakened with the myst of so much beauty together.

The next morning these words danced through my body:

Thresholds of Living in the Midst of So Much Beauty

The wind sings the pines, and my body responds with delicate whispers

While the morning light cascades across the valley.

Moon, still arriving, reflects the symphony of renewal.

Beloved’s hands interwoven with stone.

And a sky painted silhouette of the mystery.

Hasn’t it always been like this?

A great mystery, a paradox?

The physical flesh of Earth is all around you now.

Encircling you

Inviting you into the doorway.

Whether through the structures and movement of muscle, granite, bone, organ, blood, tear, rain, ocean, soil, soul, air, silence, dawn chorus, human, animal, breath, fire, sun, sweat, cells, vibration, or bodies with life-force, an underlying force exists: a desire to experience and connect with a deeper river that is constant, still, vibrant, connected, and real. May the periphery of our experiences—our yielding, pausing, and reaching in and out—extend enough to see the view before us, between us, within a word, a cultivation of intimacy and attunement—an essential tributary for feeding the river of unwavering attachment. And may we breathe essence to ignite the sacred, creative, and regenerative heart-fireduring these times.

Thank you so much for sharing your presence with Earth and with us during these wild times and saying yes to living in the midst of so much beauty.

With Imbolc blessings, love, attunement, and grace,

Colleen Bishop

co-founder and guide, Alchemy of Prana

Copyright 2022 Colleen Bishop, Alchemy of Prana

enchanted valley Olympic National Park

wilderness vision fast enchanted valley


Johnson, D. H. (2018). Diverse bodies, diverse practices: Toward an inclusive somatics. North Atlantic Books.

Siegel, D. J. (2001). Toward an interpersonal neurobiology of developing mind: Attachment relationships, “mindsight,” and neural integration. Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1–2), 67–94.

Williams, T. T. (2012). When women were birds: Fifty-four variotions of voice. Sarah Crichton Books.

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