Intuition…we need it now more than ever.
Well, I started this blog on Christmas eve and it is now Dec 28th. Between the busiest time of the year and a cold, it has taken me this long to finish this blog. In the book I am writing, I am working on a chapter on intuition and thought the subject would make an interesting post on my blog.
Firstly, what is intuition? The word intuition comes from the Latin word “intueri”, which means to look inside or to contemplate. A modern definition of the word intuition is “to acquire knowledge without inference and/or the use of reason”. While many people think of intuition as something that only alternative healers and psychics talk about but it is an important part of the evolution of modern day psychology.
In the early 1900’s, Carl Jung described a category of people as “intuitive type” who sensed their world predominantly by intuition. Referring back to the definition for a moment, we see that intuition is simply knowing something without reason. Our early ancestors must have had heightened intuitive senses. Before our brains developed to be able to reason logically, we survived by intuition and instinct. Our ancestors likely knew when they were being stalked by a predator – they had to know to survive.
Today, some people still would be classified as a Jungian “intuitive type”. It is not unreasonable to believe that some people are just better at sensing and knowing the invisible world. We live in a world now where we only respect that which can be tested, verified, and seen to be true. Some might say that we need intuition less and less to survive in this world now. I do not believe that is an accurate statement; in fact, I believe the opposite to be true.
If you had a really poorly developed sense of intuition, you might find yourself blithely ambling down a dark alley, unaware of danger lurking behind the corner. You might choose to go for a hike and be unaware of a stalking cougar. You might choose to go on that blind date with that wacko who “seemed cute” online.
If we don’t start to re-train our intuitive sense, we are in trouble. We rely completely on external sources for all of our information now. How many times have you been out at a party and somebody asks a question and nobody really thinks about the answer anymore. Now, the only thought that people have when asked a question is “where is my smart phone so I can Google the question”.
Intuition is not the only casualty of a modern world. Did you know that we have muscles to make our toes spread apart and muscles to move our ears. Chances are that you can’t move either of these body parts willfully anymore because through our evolution, we don’t appear to need them. Intuition on the other hand is needed now more than ever yet; we are losing this important ability to sense the invisible world.
Can intuition be developed? The answer is “yes”! In her book, The Intuitive Way, Penney Peirce does an excellent job of providing exercises to develop your innate intuitive sense. Peirce also helps people understand some of the sensations of intuition. If you were about to eat something that could make you sick but you could not detect it by smell or appearance. What other senses might provide an indication that something is wrong? Peirce describes the first sensation as a vibration. As you can well imagine, if you are not naturally intuitive you may have a hard time discerning a “vibration” in your body before eating an E.coli-laden steak but I do believe that with practice, this ability to detect subtle signals such as vibration can be re-learned.
You might wonder why I think re-learning how to be intuitive is important. I think intuition is the difference between a person who always appears to be stuck in a rut and have “bad luck” follow them and the person who seems to be “lucky” in life. The life we live and paths we choose are the results of a continuous stream of choices. From the moment we wake up in the morning we choose: how to get out of bed; which clothes to wear; what to eat; how to feel; how to drive or commute; what to think about; what to listen to; and millions of other choices each day. We often don’t think that we are choosing things like our mood or the direction we travel to work but we are always choosing. Most of our choices are unconscious. Making them unconscious is a useful trick of the brain. It would be exhausting if we consciously thought about each decision in our lives. Our brain converts most of our decisions to unconscious as soon as it appears we have integrated the choices into a pattern.
What if the pattern is a bad pattern? Could it be possible that some of your unconscious choices are actually not good for you? I believe that many of our patterns are not the best patterns but we have stopped checking in with ourselves and we are ceasing to be intuitive. If you find that you are “unlucky” or in a period of “tough times”; it may be time to start asking yourself if there might be better choices from the moment you get out of bed.
It may seem like a silly exercise to stand in front of the open refrigerator and ask yourself “do I prefer my usual breakfast or does my body prefer some other choice such as a grapefruit?”. Believe it or not, the correct answer is inside you as a slight sensation or as Peirce calls it a slight “vibration”. Practice this with as many decisions as you can and see if you can feel it.
When you re-learn intuition, you make your life better and of course, the lives of those around you better.
My resolution this year is to improve my intuitive nature!
I wish you all the best in 2013.