According to the Oxford Dictionary, “intuition” is defined as: “the ability to understand something instinctively without the need for conscious reasoning.” How important is it? A lot of very intelligent people have weighed in on that. Steve Jobs said, “Intuition is more powerful than intellect,” but people give more weight to intellect. Intuition gets a bad rap, often dismissed as New Age mumbo jumbo that has no place in our rational world. What we call intuition, or “gut feeling,” is the product of a complex interplay between our instincts, and our conscious and unconscious minds. We know without knowing why or how we know, and it’s no less valid; the research supports its value. Logical people aren’t comfortable listening to their intuitive voice: Malcolm Gladwell references this in his book Blink. Logical people spend far more time validating something their gut told them was true from the very beginning than do those of us who trust our intuition.
If you’re not in the habit of trusting your intuition or aren’t sure you can rely on it, you can connect with your intuitive abilities by learning to listen to your inner voice. The key to reconnection is creating the quiet space in which it can happen, disconnecting and unplugging technology, and allowing intuition to happen in that space.
WHAT BLOCKS US FROM ACCESSING OUR INTUITION?
Being busy: When we’re doing too much, we lose touch with our internal alignment and what our inner wisdom is trying to tell us because your intuitive voice isn’t going to shout to get your attention; it’s going to whisper. Being in the grip of strong emotion will make us deaf to it as well. For most of us, most days, it’s there, even if we don’t realize it. Intuition makes you pick up the phone and call friends because they’ve been on your mind, and, in turn, they tell you they were just about to call you too!
As many people are, I’m often busy, and it’s tough to make the time to just “be” in my life: not being overscheduled, not worrying about getting my to-do list done, and not turning on a device to fill the space. It’s all about taking the time to sit and dream, wonder, ponder while taking a walk or riding a bike, peer at a lake or enjoy a sunset, drive with the top down and radio off along a quiet road, listening. That’s when the magic happens. Clarity, creativity, opportunity; it’s all there in that space waiting for you.
IMMEDIATE BENEFITS OF YOUR INTUITION
When you’re in touch with your intuition, you’re more effective— and you’re less stressed. I believe you create your own stress. For example, traffic is not an inherently stressful event; you bring the interpretation of stress to it. Some people react to it with gratitude: “Awesome, more time to listen to my audio book,” or “I’m enjoying the person in the car with me and now we have more time together.” Some people see it as a business opportunity: “Great, I was able to make seven phone calls.” Others scream at the cars, flipping them off and driving erratically. (For the record, I have done all of the above.)
So what’s behind the difference in these attitudes? When you’re at the intersection where peace meets grace, you’re centered enough to ask, “What’s the good news about this?” or “How do I make this work for me?” When you’re tuned in to it, there’s usually a dramatic reduction in stress because when you’re “on” with your gut, you’re aligned with energy well beyond your intellect. The logical mind is a wonderful tool, but it has its limits. When you’re truly aligned— mind, body, spirit, intellect—you’re open and receptive to bigger things. That’s when you find the love of your life; that’s when you find your next big business solution, and you might even find the hobby you always wanted. It’s when you suddenly see a way to streamline a bottlenecked process or come up with a brilliant new business offering. That’s when you take a risk, take the plunge, dare to do something you’d never thought you would or could. This is when innovation happens.
YOUR BRAIN WILL TRY TO STOP YOU
Your brain’s most important job is to protect your body, to minimize risk, and to maintain life as it is. When we find ourselves in a corner, we’re going to instinctively rely on logic or past experience. Often, logic fails us, and what worked in the past doesn’t always work in a new, similar situation. Letting go of the past and being open to questioning what’s possible unlocks the door to your inner wisdom.
Grace is there to be found, if you can quiet your mental chatter and plug into it, through practices such as meditation, journaling, and being in nature. Intuition is heard when you crack the door open to let what’s gnawing at you into your conscious awareness. Some people are more skilled at letting it in. The rest of us can quiet ourselves for temporary periods and access it. The more you practice quieting your mind, the more freely your intuition will flow.