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by Margaret Gamez

A number of healing modalities, or systems, most notably Reiki, an energy healing modality, as well as some other spiritually-oriented programs, feature attunements as a fundamental, integral part of the system. So what exactly are attunements?

Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary defines attune as “1. to bring into harmony 2: to make aware or responsive”, and it defines initiation as “to cause or facilitate the beginning of, 2. to induct into membership by or as if by special rites, 3. to instruct in the rudiments or principles of something”, and initiation as “1 a. the act or an instance of initiating, b. the process of being initiated, c. the rites, ceremonies, ordeals, or instructions with which one is made a member of a sect or society or is invested with a particular function or status, 2. the condition of being initiated into some experience or sphere of activity”. These definitions provide a vague notion of what attunement or initiation might mean in the sense in which they are used by healers and spiritual teachers, but they still leave something to be desired.

We are told that, traditionally, in a number of spiritual systems, aspirants have received initiations, or attunements. It has been said that the ancient mystery schools had very rigorous initiation procedures, or ceremonies, whereby aspirants to higher levels might prove their worthiness. Priests of various religions or spiritual systems often undergo some sort of rite of initiation as they are inducted into the priesthood. We have heard of unusual initiations of college fraternities and sororities.

One of the difficulties in pinning down the meanings of these two words as they are used in the modern spiritually or metaphysically-oriented sense is that most of the systems in which attunements or initiations are involved come to us from various Asian cultures whose languages often have but one word to describe those things for which we, in English, employ two, leaving us at the mercy of translators.

For the purpose of this explanation, then, we will refer to initiation as the ceremony in which one receives attunement(s), and then we need only clarify what attunementsare.

To understand the concept of attunements, it is useful to be familiar with the concept of the aura, and/or the idea of the subtle energy body, or etheric double, as these concepts are fundamental to understanding what is supposed to happen during, as well as as a result of, attunement(s).

If we understand that the aura surrounds the physical body, mirroring its form and shape, and forming a part of its energy make-up, and if we understand that the aura represents a sort of “energy double” of the physical body, we can begin to grasp what an attunement does.

In the attunement process, it is considered that the attunement received “opens up” channels within the etheric double, or aura, to allow energies to flow more easily, at a greater rate, etc., and to facilitate the individual’s inner development, along chosen lines, thus bringing the individual into greater harmony with the energies, awakening in the individual more awareness and/or responsiveness. In the case of Reiki, the attunements are expected to expand the pathways along which the healing energy is channeled, allowing the healer to be more effective, as more healing can pass through the expanded channels. In spiritual development, attunements are considered to enhance and accelerate spiritual development at a rate unable to be achieved otherwise in the average lifetime. One example of this sort of attunement is that, in certain yoga/meditation systems, of attunement to one’s personal mantra.

Where do these attunements come from? It is important to understand that attunements do notcome from the individual who is passing them. The energies passed along in the attunement process come from the Universal Source. (The term “Reiki” actually means “Universal Life Force” in Japanese). This is God, or Spirit, the Supreme Being, Mohammed, Buddha, or whatever you may call the Highest Power. The individual passing the attunements merely serves as a focus, or lens, if you will, through which the attunements may easily flow to the receiver. Indeed, in some instances, with certain energies, some individuals may be able to “tune in” to the energies on their own, thus attuning themselves, whether or consciously or unconsciously. Attunements may also be passed either in person, or at a distance. Attunements might be referred to as “energy blessings”, graces bestowed on one, or “energy boosts” or empowerments given one in order to enhance one’s personal energetic growth and development. In fact, there are some people who seek out attunements for the feeling that they get from receiving them, without any intention of actively using whatever abilities are expected to come along with the attunements.

The experience of receiving attunements can range from a mild, restful feeling to a strong, emotional one, depending on a range of factors, including the mindset of the person receiving the attunement, and the way in which the attunement is passed.

The results of an attunement are sometimes felt immediately, and sometimes take a while to settle in. In my own case, I have been quite surprised to notice the results of some attunements I have received months, or even years later. This does not mean that the attunements were received at an inappropriate time, but simply that the work the attunements were meant to do worked very subtly to bring about changes I had never expected in this lifetime.

There is a wide range of purposes for attunements. Attunements to Reiki, which is heart energy, are given to allow one to better channel healing to oneself and others. These attunements take immediate effect, and the effects are expected to increase as healing is practiced by the initiate, both enhancing healing flow as well as subtly unfolding the initiate’s spirituality. Other energy healing systems involving attunements work along much the same lines.

There are also attunements given to awaken spiritual qualities, or increase them. Attunements are given to assist one’s advancement along spiritual pathways to enlightenment, or ascension. It is often these which may work most subtly, with notable effects recognized months or years later.

Many attunements will have an immediate physical effectupon the body, which is why most people receiving attunements are advised to increase their intake of water in the few weeks immediately after attunement, to help the body adjust. Some people actually notice increased thirst following attunements. Effects from some attunements may not be otherwise visible immediately, as attunements work on the spiritual and emotional, etheric levels of the individual, invisibly healing and unfolding areas we may not even be aware of, only much later making their effects manifest on a conscious level. When this happens, it comes as an unexpected “gift”, often bearing with it the desire to strive further.

Are attunements right for you? Only you can answer that question for yourself, at this time. Attunements enhance one’s healing abilities, and one’s spirituality, regardless of the religion one professes, or whether or not one feelsp particularly spiritual, or howone professes and/or manifests one’s spirituality. These are very personal issues on a conscious level, yet spirituality manifests on the unconsciousspiritual and emotional levels as well. If you are on a path of spiritual striving, particularly a compassionate or boddhisattva path, or if you are on an ascension path, attunements may appeal to you immediately. If you believe in reincarnation, the fact that attunements will carry with you from lifetime to lifetime, enhancing your future situations, regardless of where you are right now, might carry certain appeal. If you have been thinking of working on your spiritual side, attunements can give you a subtle jumpstart, as they did for me.

My Experience With Attunements
I began to practice energy healing some years ago. I had heard the name Reiki, but was not drawn to it, for a number of reasons, including the price. Someone introduced me to one healing modality and I thought that was the best in the world. It even offered to develop one’s healing abilities and spirituality through extended practice. I was very content to practice that healing modality (and still do) for quite some time.

At a certain point in my travels, I was introduced to a Reiki Master who offered intensive workshops for what I thought was a very reasonable fee. My Higher Self pushed me to register for this class, which I did, at risk to my job at the time. I went into that workshop knowing virtually nothing about Reiki except that it usually cost a lot more and took a lot more time. I had no idea that attunements were involved, or even what they were. On the first night of the workshop, I received my first attunements. I was not impressed, to tell the truth. I felt a nice relaxation, true, but nothing unusual happened, and I certainly did not feel like crying, as some of my classmates obviously did. I did the healing practice, which was not too terribly different from what I already knew, learned some new things, and was happy enough. Somewhere in that workshop, however, something did happen to me. We had three sets of attunements, one for each level, and by the time I had reached the Master’s attunements, I was looking forward to them, felt them come in, and was profoundly affected by them. I also did experience some physical clearing in the week after my attunements, which cleared up nicely with overdoses of water.

A year or so later, I learned of a crystal class, and went in with a friend, only to find out that the woman leading the class was actually passing attunements for working with crystals. After the class, we both went out wondering what we had learned or received, other than a flimsy handout, however, on the way home, we both came to the conclusion that, on some level, we had known many of those things, and had, indeed, received something. The attendant sudden need for more water in the first few days following those attunements was, for me, a dead giveaway that I had, indeed, received some sort of energy “adjustment”. A few months later, I took a course, within the same program, which involved over thirty spiritually-oriented self-development attunements. After the course, I decided that this program was not for me, as I felt myself to be on a healing path, i.e., I was more interested in healing other people than working on myself. I was extremely surprised, some six months later, to find myself signing up for the next level, and for other courses in the program. What had happened? I understand that, somewhere along the line, the attunements which I had received up to that point were working on me on levels I had been unaware of, preparing me for further spiritual development, and bringing to a conscious level a spirituality of which I had previously been only peripherally aware. I still was not sure why I wanted to take those classes, other than that my ability to channel healing did seem to be expanding.

Over a course of more than a year, during which I received many attunements from different systems, I noticed that not only had my healing ability been affected, but I was revisiting spiritual practices, such as meditation, which I had rejected in the past, and finding them virtually effortless, as if I had been doing them all along for many years. Other spiritual abilities also began surfacing during that period. This is one effect that can be expected from certain attunements, according to my teachers. From the night to the morning, almost, it seemed that I had awoken with a desire to work on my spiritual self, to take steps toward spiritual advancement, toward ascension even, and I suddenly understood how attention to my own spiritual development would enhance my ability to help other people. I have also experienced a much closer relationship with Spirit, and an increasing feeling of working withSpirit. A way has been opened to me to connect my mystic bent with real life, through healing on many levels.

Some people are not drawn to healing, and therefore might pass up the attunements traditionally available in healing modalities. There are other attunement systems wherein attunements for energy refinement and spiritual development are available. The Tibetan Empowerment Series gives a series of 118 empowerments, in six series, which bring more powerful energies into one’s system, in a gradual way, allowing for subtle energy integration which will, over time, bring about powerful healing and spiritual developmental progress.

Blessings to you.





copyright, Margaret Gamez, 1999