We are born instinctual, where our impulse to act is informed by our body. Faced with danger, we experience a discharge from the sympathetic nervous system. Our heart rate and breathing increase, muscles contract, and the choice of “fight or flight” is clear. We are biologically equipped with this amazing inner radar. Did you know that in addition to instinct, your intuition, can be accessed, honed, and trusted as one more superpower? Think of it as a way to “consider”, an inner knowing created by your life’s experiences, beliefs and memories. Your “gut feeling” about walking down one street instead of another, not taking a certain job, or not leaving your car with a certain mechanic is a mindless process. It doesn’t require analysis. You have a strong feeling, you trust it, and it pays off.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung is credited with the first identification of an “intuition dimension” to personality, a means to access unconscious experience.
More recent work by Carina Remmers and her colleagues at the University of Hildesheim clarifies a connection between intuition and mindfulness, being more present in this moment. Turns out, the value of intuition is when we make decisions within a time crunch, under stress or facing a problem that is complex. However, intuition is most accessible when we’re in a positive mood. In a funk, that window to access your intuitive self is shut.
The most important element to cultivate reliable intuition is expertise. Research points to about 10 years, with a lot of repetition and feedback, to develop domain-specific expertise. In addition, we learn subconsciously, so simple exposure to the same environment over the years also hones our intuition. We soak up and fortify an inner knowing that is reliable when a snap decision is required.
Intuition affords us the knack to understand something immediately.
We’ve learned to hear between the lines of what’s being said and trust our inner voice. Judith Orloff,M.D., professor of psychiatry at UCLA considers this “non linear knowledge, a second kind of intelligence”. At a time when many of us are bombarded with too many tasks and too little time, it makes sense to strengthen our potent inner guide. Thankfully, some physicians now inform patient care with their experience and intuition.
Here are four proven practices:
Listen to your gut
Your digestive tract actually sends signals when you’re faced with decisions. Quiet yourself and hold the intention to listen with your mind and your stomach.
Notice your energy levels
Certain people fortify us, and others, well, can suck the life out us. Pay attention to your inner reserves and ebb/flow of energy in the presence of others.
Capture “Ah Ha!” moments
When a flash of insight happens, write it down! You’re on a long drive, suddenly an idea or person comes to mind, the ideal solution to some challenge..take action!
Like brushing teeth, make meditation part of your daily routine. There simply is, no downside.