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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Attunement: Embodied transcendent experience explored through sound and rhythmic improvisation
by Kossak, Mitchell S., Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2008, 200; 3295954
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this research study was to arrive at a grounded definition of attunement by exploring the experience of attunement achieved through sound and rhythmic improvisation. Personal experience, creative process, participant interviews, observations, and descriptive narrative were utilized in a blended research methodology combining heuristic, arts-based, and reflexive phenomenology. Multiple ways of knowing, including affective, sensory, creative, observational, and intuitional, were employed in gathering and synthesizing data. One group of expressive arts therapists and one mixed group of expressive arts therapists and professional musicians each engaged in a one-hour-long free improvisation (unstructured) session using sound and rhythm. In addition, two individual improvisation sessions, one with a professional musician and one with a psychologist, also occurred. One of the research goals was to uncover relevant underlying attunement and misattunement commonalities among the phenomenological and somatic experiences of these two professional groups. Findings included ten stages of engagement including warming up to space and sounds, seeking safety, experimentation, risk taking and vulnerability, experiences of chaotic states or misattunement, entrainment or merging, embodied shifts in consciousness, intersubjective empathy, flow, and shared intimacy where research participants reported a sense of interconnected unity with something greater then self similar to peak or unitive states of consciousness. This study revealed the intersubjective relational qualities of understanding, support, deep listening, a willingness to hold and give space, the ability to tolerate chaotic or unpredictable states, and empathy are the most prominent characteristics inherent in achieving attunement when engaged in free improvisations that use sound and rhythm and can also be viewed as a necessary quality to hold as a stated goal in the practice of expressive arts therapies. Additional findings included a felt sense of non-obstructed flow often talked about in Eastern healing paradigms of health and well being, while a felt sense of obstructed flow or misattunement occurred when safety was not established, and when attention was lost and/or individuality predominated, resulting in feelings of anxiety and chaos. This research study is designed to inform the fields of the arts, psychology, and expressive arts therapies.

Keywords: attunement, misattunement, embodiment; improvisation; entrainment; empathy; intimacy; altered states of consciousness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cedillos, Jose Hilario, Williams, M. Willson
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 69/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music, Psychology
Keywords: Attunement, Embodiment, Empathy, Improvisation, Rhythmic improvisation, Sound, Transcendent
Publication Number: 3295954
ISBN: 978-0-549-40833-8
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