by Pam Meiser, 2017
In the 18th century, Europe and America went through what we call the Age of Enlightenment, which was an intellectual and philosophical movement that included, among other things, the idea that reason is the primary source of authority and legitimacy. Emphasis was put on scientific method and the increased questioning of religious orthodoxy. Inquiring minds were becoming more concerned with wanting to know and understand the world around them through reason based on tangible evidence and proof.
The Age of Enlightenment certainly gave us Western civilization as we know it today, with many desirable ideas such as liberty, progress, tolerance and constitutional government. Facts can be good things, but in fact, some might say that they can be inconvenient things. Yet there is something more than reason which can help to guide us throughout our daily lives, and that is something called intuition.
The dictionary definition of intuition is “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” Some also refer to this as “trusting your gut.” A more thorough definition comes from SageThinking.com:1
Intuition is really nothing more than an internal mechanism, free from language, which assists us in making decisions. It is sometimes called gut feeling, instinct, inspiration, a sixth sense that tells us, non-verbally, to do something or not do something. The great thing about intuition is that it can be developed and is amazingly accurate and has only our best interest at heart. The problems arise when we begin to second-guess our hunches or fight against it because we either doubt ourselves or it is leading us in a direction we are resisting or don’t want to go. It takes courage to act on our intuition and go against what seems rational and obvious.
In their book Nutrition for Intuition, Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves add an additional definition, one that they received from their angels:2
Intuition is your ability to receive and interpret Divine healing and supportive messages for your journey. It gives you the clarity to know that you are going in the right direction, and to understand what changes you need to make in your life.
Here is a list of ten things that intuitive people do differently than the rest of us:3
- They listen to their inner voice.
- They take time for solitude.
- They create.
- They practice mindfulness.
- They observe everything.
- They listen to their bodies.
- They connect deeply with others.
- They pay attention to their dreams.
- They enjoy plenty of down time.
- They mindfully let go of negative emotions.
When is the last time you felt that something wasn’t right, or that there was an answer to a question you have been presented with, but you couldn’t explain why? Intuition is something that all of us have, yet because in today’s world it is so common to be cut off from our feelings, most of us do not even realize it is there, much less pay attention to it. As Sonia Choquette says, we must learn to “trust our vibes.”4
The cost of ignoring your intuition can range from a minor inconvenience to real problems: You had a feeling that you should have gone through town instead of taking the freeway but you didn’t, and now you’re stuck in a major traffic jam and you’re going to be late for work; You ignored that pit in your stomach that told you not to go out on a second date with someone, and as a result you end up married to an emotionally abusive individual (yes, this happened to me).
But is it just a matter of not trusting yourself? Or are you worried that others might be skeptical of your intuitive gift because you cannot prove it quantifiably? No matter what, you must remain true to yourself. Don’t let what others think or say cause you to deviate from what you believe to be the right path for you.
However, believe it or not, there can be an upside to ignoring your intuition. Sarah Prout says,5 “I believe that when you ignore your intuition and proceed in a direction you know is going to be troublesome, you are actually putting your hand up to learn some pretty powerful spiritual lessons.”
In my case, I definitely learned some powerful spiritual lessons, and although I went through a couple of very difficult years, I came out a much stronger and healthier individual. I am much more in touch with myself than ever before.
Learning to trust your intuition can have many benefits. It can help you learn who to trust and who to avoid, it can help you to discern real threats from imaginary ones, it can help you to ward off illness and even save your life, it can help you make better decisions, it can help you take smarter risks and it can help you help others.6
Still not convinced? Need more quantifiable proof? In a study published in the April 2016 edition of Psychological Science,7 intuition does indeed exist and researchers can measure it. Lead author of the study, Joel Pearson, associate professor of psychology at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said that “Previous studies didn’t actually measure intuition because researchers didn’t know how to quantify it.” These previous studies simply relied on questionnaires that asked people how they were feeling when they made a decision.8
But Pearson and his colleagues came up with a series of experiments that helped them to determine whether people were using their intuition while making decisions or if they were simply using their judgment. The researchers defined intuition as the influence of nonconscious emotional information from the body or the brain, such as an instinctual feeling or sensation. When shown a series of both positive and negative subliminal images, study participants not only did better at the task they were assigned to accomplish after viewing the positive images, but reported feeling more confident in their choices and responded more quickly. This is because the subliminal images were meant to stimulate the type of information involved in intuition; they were brief, emotionally charged and subconsciously perceived.
Not only did participants show immediate results, but according to Pearson, the experiments suggested that the participants became better at using their intuition over time.
Maybe now I’ve convinced you. Great! But you may be wondering exactly how you can foster this precious gift in yourself. Here are some tips and suggestions to get you on your way.
In her book Trust Your Vibes, Sonia Choquette advises:4
If you want your vibes to guide you, then it’s up to you to be as open to them as possible. One way to do so is to become flexible in your thinking and actions – in other words, go with the flow. As your sixth sense guides you from moment to moment, it will often suggest that you abandon your original plans and redirect your course of action quickly, without question or resistance. Spiritual law states that in order to live in a higher way, you should only make loose plans and be open to following all intuitive urges along the way.
She suggests that you practice becoming looser by doing some gentle bending and stretching before you start your day, along with some mental flexibility stretches by asking your spirit what it wants to do. Say “yes!” to your intuitive impulses throughout the day and see where they lead you.
Kyle Gray, author of Raise Your Vibration,9 suggests the following: “As you follow the intuitive impulses you receive, you will raise your vibrations and your aura will be shining and golden.” He suggests an exercise which prompts you to listen to the voice within. Close your eyes and visualize yourself immersed in golden light. Say, “I am listening to my soul.” Then ask, “Where would you have me go today? What would you have me do today? What would you have me say? And to whom shall I say it?” Listen to what your soul shares with you. Trust it. It will give you many home truths. Act on them and you will connect more strongly to your intuition.
Spiritual writer and teacher Tova Payne has a list of six things that you can do to awaken your intuition:10
- Start each morning with a 3-5-minute meditation. Consistency is key.
- Ask a question – any question, such as, “What do I need to know?” Take 10 deep breaths by taking 4 counts to inhale and 4 counts to exhale. At the end of the 10 breaths, sit with yourself for about a minute (or longer if you can) and listen for any insights that arise. Sometimes an insight will arise immediately. Other times the insight may trickle in during the day while you’re at work or in the shower. Keep paying attention to insights that arise through your day.
- Go out into nature, which not only helps you to revitalize, but helps you to gather insights.
- Be on the lookout for signs and synchronicities. The more you pay attention to them, the more you’ll see them and be aware of them, which in turn strengthens your intuition.
- Go with the Glow. When you’re making a decision, look at your options and do the thing that glows brightest even if it doesn’t necessarily make logical sense. (A “glow” means you feel an inclination towards it, it does not mean you’ll see lights shining over it!) The way to practice this and strengthen your intuition is to practice on things that you feel are minor such as which color shirt should you wear (black or blue) or what color apple should you choose. Sometimes you might see a glow over the yellow apple even though you thought yellow apples weren’t so tasty. But if you follow the glow you might be pleasantly surprised with the results. That yellow apple ends up being so good that it becomes your new favorite apple. After practicing little things for a while, you’ll become so accustomed to feeling and trusting the glow that when it comes to the bigger decisions you’ll be more confident in your ability to feel where the glow is.
- Pay attention to your dreams. Our unconscious mind will often deliver us messages from our intuition and inner truth when it’s too much for our everyday-mind to accept. Intuition can feel scary when it asks you to go out of your comfort-zone—which is why we sometimes ignore it or question it. If you’ve been blocking your intuition for a while, your intuition will try to speak to you through your dreams.
Speaking more about dreams, in her book Practical Intuition, practicing intuitive Laura Day warns:11
It is commonly thought that dreams can foretell the future. In fact, intuition is at work in such cases. Dreams are your psyche working out the unconscious conflicts and experiences of the day. In that “space,” intuition can make use of the same symbolic language as dreams. But receiving information through intuition is not at all the same as receiving it through your dreams. A key difference is that, whereas intuition is objective and often predictive, dreams are always subjective and descriptive.
There is more to it than exercises like the ones I just shared with you. Being in touch with your intuition goes hand in hand with being in touch with your physical self. As Belinda Grace describes in You Are Clairvoyant,12 “These days most of us live in our heads without even realizing it. We are often unaware of the stresses we put our bodies through – a lack of exercise or excessive intake of stimulants such as coffee or alcohol can have devastating effects over time.” In other words, take care of your body.
In their book Nutrition for Intuition, Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves agree:2
Nutrition, then, is the nourishment that your body needs to thrive – not just survive. You don’t want a body that just goes through the motions of life. Instead, you want one that’s filled with enthusiasm, motivation, and inspiration. So, aim for uplifting, high energy, fresh, easily digestible organic foods and beverages.
Everything you consume, whether food or drink, has a direct influence on your chakra system. With a diet that’s high in fats, carbohydrates, and processed foods, your outlook on life can become depleted and miserable. Constantly struggling to get on top of things, you see the world as a harsh environment, where nothing seems to work in your favor.
So, how do you know when it is your intuition talking? Consciousness growth mentor Kristina Mills has some insight:13
For some people, their sixth sensory insights fire up all the time. For instance, when I receive channeled messages, these messages come from many different sources. Some of them are useful and some of them most definitely aren’t.
The way I can tell the difference is the vibration that is attached to that message. What I mean by that is that each message I receive has a feeling attached to it. The higher the feeling of bliss that is accompanied by the message, the more profound the source is.
For instance, some people hear a voice from a deceased relative telling them to take that job or ditch that guy or something else.
That isn’t intuition. It’s simply your deceased relative trying to help you … in the same way a living relative would. It’s no different.
Just because they spoke with you doesn’t mean their advice is correct. And just because they have passed over doesn’t make them any wiser than they were when they were alive.
It is, however, an intuition if you’re in a present and calm state when you hear the message and what that deceased relative says to you gives you that AH-HA feeling and a sense of knowingness that the message is your truth.
I’d like to close with some inspirational quotes from some very successful and famous people regarding the importance of following your intuition:
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” ~ Apple founder Steve Jobs
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.” ~ author Paul Coelho
- Egle, Caron. “Fostering Intuition – Following Your Hunches.” Sage Thinking. com.au/resources/articles/on-running-your-brain/fostering-intuition-following-your-hunches/.
- Virtue, Doreen; Reeves, Robert. Nutrition for Intuition. Hay House. 2016. ISBN-13: 978-1401945411.
- Gregoire, Carolyn. “10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently.” Huffington Post Healthy Living. huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/the-habits-of-highly-intu_n_4958778.html.
- Choquette, Sonia. Trust Your Vibes. Hay House. 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1781802830.
- Prout, Sarah. “What Really Happens When You Ignore Your Intuition.” Sarah Prout. 2016. com/when-you-ignore-your-intuition.
- Warrell, Margie. “Trust Your Intuition. Not Doing So Can Be Costly.” Forbs Leadership. 2015. com/sites/margiewarrell/2015/05/12/trust-your-intuition/#257f5fb76c60.
- Pearson, Joel; Lufityanto, Galang; Donkin, Chris. “Measuring Intuition: Nonconscious Emotional Information Boosts Decision Accuracy and Confidence.” Sage Journals: Psychological Science. journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797616629403.
- Nierenberg, Cari. “The Science of Intuition: How to Measure Hunches and Gut Feelings.” Live Science. livescience.com/54825-scientists-measure-intuition.html.
- Gray, Kyle. Raise Your Vibration: 111 Practices to Increase Your Spiritual Connection. Hay House. 2016. ISBN: 9781401950361.
- Payne, Tova. “6 Ways to Awaken Your Intuition Today.” Tova Payne. 2016. com/2016/08/16/awaken-intuition-today/.
- Day, Laura. Practical Intuition: How to Harness the Power of Your Instinct and Make It Work for You. Broadway Books. 1997. ISBN-13: 978-0767900348.
- Grace, Belinda. You Are Clairvoyant: Simple Ways to Develop Your Psychic Gifts. Llewellyn Publications. 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0738727233.
- Mills, Kristina. “Is That Your Intuition Talking? Here are 7 Ways to Tell.” Kristina Mills. kristinamills.com/intuition/is-that-your-intuition-talking-7-ways-to-tell/.