In a general sense, attunement describes the action of being brought into harmony with or awareness of something. Its modern usage is chiefly in a spiritual context, which refers to a practitioner becoming aware or in harmony with certain spiritual energies, but it also refers to an important aspect of psychotherapy.
Usage in Spirituality
Attunement is most often associated with the practice of Reiki, a spiritual healing modality in which the practitioner is said to channel universal energy through his body and hands. The Reiki student learns how to connect to, or harmonize with, this energy by receiving an energetic Reiki attunement from her teacher. There are also other forms of spiritual attunement, each focused on tapping into certain energies for healing purposes.
Harmony of Mind-Body-Spirit
Similar to attuning to spiritual energy, attunement can refer to various techniques of bringing the body into attunement with itself, so that mind, body and spirit can work in harmony and inner energies can be tapped in order to achieve personal healing and transformation.
Usage in Psychotherapy
Attunement is also used to describe a therapist's ability tap into the thoughts and experiences of a client and respond effectively to the nuances of what they say. It is a very important aspect of therapy, because if a therapist is not in attunement with his client, then the client may feel uncomfortable or unheard, making healthy progress all that much harder to achieve.
Usage in Teaching
As an extension of its use in psychotherapy, attunement can also refer to a teacher's ability to relate and respond to her students. Especially important in elementary school, a teacher in attunement with her students is tapped into and able to respond beneficially to slight changes in their nonverbal cues and tone of voice. It is about being aware of the rhythm of individual students and the class as a whole.