What is intuition for you? What does it mean to you? How would you depict it?
In day to day life, we use phrases such as “I knew I should have done this”; “My heart tells me…”; “It just didn’t feel right” etc. But what are we actually referring to when we say these things?
In the following, I am endeavouring to put into words my own perspective on intuition, in the hope that it might awaken in you an awareness of this tremendous gift we all have at our disposal. A gift which I believe is invaluable, especially when navigating times of great uncertainty, confusion, and unexpected change.
A different type of knowing
In today’s society, we are so used to giving the mind/brain complex credit, for almost everything being human is about. We equate everything we create and are capable of doing, to a manifestation of our intellect (which is no doubt an amazing asset). So when confronted with the question of intuition, we might automatically think that it has something to do with the above. But if we really consider the question on a deeper level, we can see that in fact, there is nothing intellectual about intuition. So what is it about then?
When I asked above how you would depict intuition, I used the word depict on purpose. As from my perspective, intuition is not necessarily something we would put into words, since it is not a word-based phenomenon. In this way, it differs from logic or rationality, where we intellectualise what we experience, through words.
We could perhaps associate intuition with what we refer to as our common sense – an innate inner wisdom we all have access to, a direct experience of knowing, which we just trust by default.
Intuition manifests as the experience we have when we just know something. It can also come to us as an insight – something we see, something which is revealed to us, an understanding we access.
Another key way intuition differs from logic or reason, is that intuition comes to us as feeling or sensing, rather than thinking. When we experience intuition, we directly perceive the truthful nature of an insight, without having the need to justify it.
To further illustrate the difference between a rational experience, and an intuitive one – reading through the findings of an academic study, where the mind sees the deductions, calculations, and step by step, mechanical process of elimination that has produced a logical conclusion, is not the same as a sudden moment of deep, genuine understanding, which we experience through intuition.
An instantaneous access of wisdom
Intuition is an instantaneous experience of direct knowing, which happens in the moment – a typically unplanned access of wisdom, which usually occurs before the mind starts analysing.
Something which could be worked out through a logical (mental) process, and which would require a few sentences to explain, if we use reason, comes to us in a momentary flash of understanding packed with wisdom, through intuition. Here, all the explanations of logic are condensed into one nameless moment of insight, which gives us a glimpse of the truth.
Intuition can also be experienced as a realisation, an epiphany, an aha! moment. It’s what happens when the proverbial penny drops, when something clicks, when something simply makes sense. It is an enlightening moment of understanding, which happens in the blink of an eye, yet contains the truthful essence of whatever we’re dealing with.
Trusting our innate wisdom
Nowadays, society seems to be dominated by a scientific fundamentalism approach to life, where in order for anything to be considered real or valid, it has to be demonstrated through a linear, sequential process of justification. Yet in the same time, we all move freely through life, making decisions of all kinds, based on what we feel is right in the moment.
My intention here is not to dismiss the invaluable role science plays in understanding the world, but to rather suggest that by solely relying on this approach to an extreme, we are limiting our perceptions, and dismissing an intrinsic guidance, which has ultimately enabled humanity to reach this point in its evolution.
We are already guided on a daily basis by this built in means of simply knowing what’s right for us. We all experience a direct intuitive knowing, which enables us to function in the world, and make big or small decisions on a daily basis. We all have an inner compass, through which we navigate life, and make choices in the moment – an experiential type of knowing which we never question, need analysis or tests for, in order to demonstrate its validity.
We could say that when we’re navigating life successfully, we are in touch with this inner guidance system, and when we are lost, we are disconnected from our inner compass.
Have you ever wondered where that experience of just knowing what’s right, without the need for proof, comes from?
The heart speaks
I’ve alluded above to the fact that something other than the mind/brain complex could be responsible for intuition, since it is not an intellectual phenomenon. So now that we’ve covered what intuition might be about, let us ponder for a moment on where it might come from.
When we consider the lore of our ancestors, together with new scientific discoveries, it becomes apparent that the heart is the seat of intuition, wisdom, and higher intelligence.
Far beyond the functions of a mere pump, the heart has amazing characteristics which most of us might not be aware of. Among them – the presence of neuron-like cells, called sensory neurites. These specialised cells, enable the heart to learn, memorise and communicate, independently of the brain.
The heart speaks its own language, which we already understand, if we only just listen, and that language is intuition. Now typically, intuition is not something we make happen, but rather something we experience at random points in our life. What’s key to note about this phenomenon, is the conditions in which it occurs – when our mind is relatively clear, quiet, and still. When these conditions are fulfilled, our heart’s voice is able to come forth.
While our mind/brain knowledge is selective, separating and focusing on difference, our heart’s wisdom is holistic, all encompassing, and reveals the unity of things. The heart bypasses all the biased and conditioned lenses of mind/brain, and gives us access to the unfiltered truth.
In the following, I would like to offer a simple method through which you can access on demand intuition, so that you can benefit from your heart’s wisdom, when you most need it. This technique has been developed by researchers at the HeartMath Institute, a nonprofit organisation, which is dedicated to studying the full extent of our heart’s functions and capabilities, for the empowerment of all people.
1. Start breathing slowly, and deeply – this sends a powerful signal to your nervous system that it is safe, and enables you to turn towards your inner world.
2. Direct your attention inside your heart. You can facilitate this by placing your fingertips over your heart – attention is naturally drawn to where there is a physical sensation. Deeply get in touch with this area of your body, and continue breathing slowly, as if your breath is coming from your heart.
3. Ask your heart a question. Ask it whether you should do something you can’t decide about, for example. Then be aware of its answer. The heart’s response is brief, concise, and doesn’t take time to appear. It sometimes comes before you’ve even finished your question, and it is often in the form of a feeling.
If you have taken your time to tune into your heart, trust whatever answer comes first, before the mind starts thinking about what the “right” answer should be.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of the validity of intuition, is the fact that the beliefs and practices of the ancient indigenous people of our planet, are now mirrored by recent scientific discoveries.
For example, our ancestors were aware of the interconnectedness and unity which underlies all perceived separation. They knew that everything is part of one big whole, and that there is no real void between any two things. This great oneness, which has been demonstrated by quantum physics, was perceived by our ancestors, through being in touch with their heart’s wisdom – their intuition.
I believe that one of the most important tasks we can accomplish right now, is to heal the illusion of separation that has caused so much suffering on this planet, for far too long. I believe we must balance out the predominantly mind based society we live in, where our egos lead our lives, with something capable of bringing us back into harmony with one another.
We can start doing this today, by listening to the language of our heart’s wisdom – our intuition.