Tuning In (related words: to tune in, to be in tune with; opposite: zoning out)
“Tuning in” is a metaphor (symbolic language) used in mind-body healing to describe an inner process of focus and discernment. To understand it, think of an old-fashioned radio with a dial.
One of the standard dictionary definitions of “to tune in” is to adjust a receiving apparatus (such as a radio) to receive the signals of a particular transmitting station. With an old-fashioned radio, you focus your attention on the sounds coming from the radio as you turn the dial. As the dial moves, the sounds change from white noise to different types of music or conversation as you receive the signals of various transmitting stations. You use your faculty of discernment to know what type of sound you are hearing. If you have a specific kind of sound you want to listen to, you ignore the static or the stations you don’t like and keep turning the dial until you find what you are searching for. Once you find it, you can “fine tune” the signal by adjusting the dial so you get the best quality of sound.
You can use the same process of focused attention and discernment to receive messages from your own psyche. You direct your attention inward and you feel how it feels to be you at this moment. Then you “move the dial” by directing your attention to different aspects of the self. You could “tune in” to the physical body, taking note of how you feel from head to toe in terms of physical sensations – hot, cold, pain, no pain, stiff, tired, vibrant, etc. You can also “tune in” to your emotional body and observe emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, happiness, and envy.
In the same way you can hear the difference between white noise, heavy metal, and classical music, you use your faculty of discernment to differentiate between areas of the body and types of sensation – physical or emotional. Once you pick up a signal – such as pain in your neck and right shoulder or a feeling of uneasiness in your heart – you can decide what to do with that message.
Doing the physical postures or asanas of Hatha yoga (the type of yoga most westerners are familiar with) under the guidance of a teacher are a good way to learn how to tune into your physical body. A process called “focusing” is a good way to learn how to tune into your emotions.
You can also “tune in” to another person or group. Empathic or intuitive healers and counselors do this to establish resonance with a client and skilled practitioners can pick up on signals or message they may be outside of the conscious awareness of the person they are tuning into. Non-professionals do this as well – for example, parents become attuned to their young children and can accurately interpret messages, even before the child can speak.
There is a danger, however, in having your internal dial set to be always tuned into other people’s emotional states. Some people learn to do this when they live in dysfunctional situations where they have to be on constant alert to the moods or whims of others. Tuning into others can start out as a survival skill, but it is not healthy to do this in every day life, because in tuning into others you lose track of your own sense of self.
It’s also not healthy to always be tuned into yourself and how you are feeling. Too much inward focus can cause you to lose touch with the world and other people and become self-centered. Tuning in is a process that should be done periodically for self assessment and adjustment, to get back into clarity and alignment so you can enjoy your relationships and work and the other things that make life meaningful.