Intuition, commonly referred to as our "sixth sense" is a term used to describe an innate sense of knowing despite any concrete evidence or reasoning. We've all experienced moments in our lives when we were pulled strongly in one direction or another based on a gut feeling or inexplicable hunch. What is it that compels us to feel this way even though there is no prior knowledge or evidence to support this feeling?
Sometimes our intuition comes to us in the form of a soft whisper, suggesting that we take a certain path or follow-up on a lead. Other times, our intuition is like a pounding drum clamoring for our attention, refusing to be ignored. Have you ever been somewhere and had a foreboding feeling that you should immediately leave? Or have you ever met someone and felt an immediate and mystifying connection? Have you ever regretted not acting on your intuition? As with everything in life, there needs to be a balance between listening to our logical, rational mind and following our inner guidance system.
There is real science behind intuition though, and it lies in understanding how our subconscious mind works. Our subconscious mind is very much like a super computer. It houses every past experience, every memory, every visual, our beliefs, our emotions, patterns of behavior, and regulates things like our body temperature and heart rate. These are all things that are done automatically, and run 24/7.
When faced with a new experience, our subconscious mind automatically searches its vast database for a similar experience that it can draw from. If it can't find one, we may experience a feeling of discomfort, uncertainty, or even fear. We may also experience similar feelings if it connects a present experience to an unpleasant experience from the past. The job of our subconscious mind is to protect us and keep us safe. Intuition, while a function of our subconscious mind, is a skill that can be honed with practice.
Here are a few tips on how to do this:
Start by clearing away negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, doubts or anything else that prevents connection to the higher self. When we can start from a neutral state of mind, we naturally draw from pure positive energy and enhanced intuition. (A good way to discern real intuition from decisions driven by fear, lack or ego is to notice the level of emotion surrounding the issue. Real intuition is oftentimes clear and emotionally neutral).
Next, meditate daily. Meditation is not just a good grounding tool. It teaches us to pay attention to bodily sensations, which play a big role in intuition. Our body's visceral reactions are always trying to tell us something.
Finally, connect with nature. Nature is perhaps the greatest teacher of intuition because it connects us with a force greater and more powerful than ourselves. It shows us that we are all small fibers in a much larger, interwoven tapestry of life and mass consciousness. Once we tap into this awareness, we can further develop our intuition.
Throughout my own life, I have made countess decisions based on intuition. Some of these decisions have served me incredibly well. Others have taught me valuable lessons. Perhaps my most useful takeaway is that when making any major decision, you should start from an "optimal" frame of mind. By optimal, I mean quieting your mind until you reach a neutral or positive state. Then, consider the decision you are facing. What physical sensations arise as you think about this issue? Next, consider all the "possibilities," not the consequences of your decision. Finally, invite your inner wisdom to come forward to support and guide you.
Too many times, we make decisions from a place of fear. We allow "potential" negative outcomes to influence us, and disregard all the positive possibilities that exist. Sometimes, we need to trust that we know ourselves better than anyone else does or ever will, and have faith that regardless of what decision we make, it's the right one for that particular moment in time. By following our internal compass, we eliminate self-doubt and create a world full of possibilities.