What is intuition?
Intuition is one of our spiritual faculties. We all know about our regular faculties: these are the five senses. We use our five senses to gain information about the world. Likewise, we can use our “higher faculties” to gather information about our world, including the physical, spiritual and emotional.
We all have spiritual faculties that we can develop. These are the higher functions of ourselves that are part of our true being. There are Five Spiritual Faculties that are discussed in Buddhism, but I was also taught that spiritual faculties included things such as clairvoyance, clairaudience and extra sensory perception.
While some people may dispute that these things exist or whether they are able to be developed, most people agree that there is such a thing as intuition. It’s when you get a hunch, or a gut feeling about something.
Why is it important to develop?
This is a question I have been asking myself for years. Why should I be developing my intuition, and how does it differ from my conscious mind?
From what I have come to understand, your intuition is the voice of your higher self. When you are able to tune into this voice, you can get great insights as to the direction you should be going.
“Your inner knowing comes from first your instincts, second your intellect, and third from your intuition. Most people only operate from the level of the intellect. If you get a hunch from your instincts the intellect is great at rationalizing therefore negating an intelligence that is grounded in a deeper reality. Your instincts have a higher intelligence that comes from the past that allowed you to survive. Your intuition comes from a higher cosmic intelligence that simply just knows and does not require logic.”
That quote is from Freedom of the Known by Ivan Campuzano, a great blog if you are interested in this sort of information.
How can you develop your intuition?
I used to think that my sense of intuition was not that strong – but really I just had to learn how to develop it. It’s like developing any muscle – you need to exercise your intuition to make it strong. We are all born with this faculty, and there are many ways of not just heightening your powers of intuition, but heightening your own faith in your intuition.
In the past, I’d have a thought, such as, “I think I shouldn’t get on this bus, but wait for the next one.” Not being confident that my higher self was trying to give me some information, I would get on the bus anyway, only to have it break down two blocks later. I could never work out what the difference between my intuition and my daily mind-chatter was, mistaking one for the other.
I was fortunate enough to be given some spiritual tools and exercises which I am able to share with you. I actually ignored these exercises for many years, but if you do them – they do work. You will see the results for yourself.
How do you make your mind strong? By strengthening your level of concentration and focus. How do you do that? By practising meditation.
Many people tell me they hate meditating, or find it very boring. I have to admit – that I agree on both accounts – but it’s a necessary tool for life, like going to the gym. At first you might hate going to the gym and getting on a treadmill – it’s boring, repetitive and dull, but if you do half an hour of running every day for a month, you might start to see some of the benefit of it – and this encourages you to make it a part of your life.
If you want a strong mind, you need to learn how to concentrate. If you want to learn how to control your mind, then meditate. I won’t recommend any type of meditation in particular, but I have had some great success with Vipassana. It’s not for everyone though, as it can be very challenging. There are lots of other ways to learn and lots of tools online.
Another way I have been taught to strengthen the mind is by visualisation. I will simply pass on the exercise I was given, because it’s simple and effective. Light a candle and place it in front of you. Stare at the flame for a few seconds, until you have a good image of it in your mind. Then close your eyes and try to visualise the flame in your mind’s eye, as you were with your actual eyes.
Every time you lose sight of the flame in your mind’s eye, open your eyes again and stare at the flame. Repeat this until you have a clear visualisation going. This can be done with any object. After you get really good with visualising the flame, move your mind’s eye around the candle and try to visualise other parts of it; the wick, the base, the wax. This really helps to develop your mind’s eye and therefore can help with developing intuition. Realising that you don’t have to look at something to “see” it is a step towards intuition.
Choosing a line or lift
I really started to get into the fact that my intuition was getting stronger when I started my new job. There are six elevators that led up to my office and each day I would go and stand in front of the elevator door that I thought would open first.
I became very good with picking which door to stand in front of. I tried not to think about it, and simply go blindly with my intuition. You can also try this when your phone rings; ask yourself who is on the line without looking at your caller ID. You can even try this one at lines in the supermarket – try to pick which line will get you to the counter first – it’s not always the shortest one!
It may sound like a party trick, but this can help you use a different part of your brain. Take a bunch of cards and try to pick the colour, or suit of a downward facing card. As you progress try to pick the number too.
There’s a really nice exercise I found on a great site called Gaiam Life.
- Sit down at a writing table with three blank index cards.
- Think about a decision you are currently grappling with and write three solutions for it, one on each card.
- Turn the cards blank-side-up, shuffle them and place them face-down on a table.
- Run your hands over the cards and notice the feeling of each card.
- Assign a percentage to each card based on how powerfully you’re drawn to it.
- Turn the cards over and take note of the answer with the highest percentage.
Use a different hand, walk a different way
Again, this is about developing a different pathway in your brain. Wikipedia talks about neural pathways as, “a pathway connecting one part of the nervous system with another consisting of bundles of elongated neurons, serving to connect distant areas of the brain or nervous system.”
I have heard that just by walking on the other side of the road or brushing your teeth with the other hand you can help to strengthen new neural pathways. I’m actually not sure if this has much to do with intuition, but when you develop your intuitive skills it can feel like you are developing other parts of your brain.
So why is it important to develop our intuition?
I guess I’m not really sure.
Lately I have just felt that I have been more sure about things I want to do. I noticed that I was getting things right. When I sent a manuscript proposal off, I knew that they would ask to see the manuscript, whereas in the past I’d send off a proposal or resume and feel like it had just disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again.
I have been trusting my gut more with major decisions, but sometimes my head or my heart still gets in the way. I guess that I have just been a little more confident with things lately – knowing that if a decision feels right – it may well be.