“Intuition is seeing with the soul” – Dean Koontz
Growing up, I never really had much time for intuition. I thought it was all ‘woo-woo’ and nonsense, one of those supposed feminine qualities that made us irrational. Therefore, I never really thought about developing mine. But, as I got older, I embraced my ‘woo’ side and realised that we all have intuition. Therefore, not using it is like ignoring one of your senses.
What is intuition?
We have all had that gut feeling or hunch about someone. Intuition is sometimes referred to as the sixth sense. One dictionary definition describes it as an ‘unexplained feeling that something is true without evidence or proof’.
I don’t think that is quite true. So much of our brain’s processes go on at an unconscious level. Our subconscious mind takes in and processes so much more information than we consciously realise. All that data is stored away for further use if needed. This means that intuition isn’t just a random thought or feeling. It is tapping in on information based on past knowledge stored in our subconscious. While different to critical analytical thinking, it is just as valuable.
How does it work, and why does it matter?
Intuition is a physical sensation often but not always felt in the chest or stomach area. For some people, it is manifested in feelings of anxiety or nausea. It is that nagging thought that you just can’t shake or something feels right or wrong, and you are unsure why.
Intuition has a purpose as part of our survival mechanism. It allows for fast responses to stimuli by using the information we already have rather than waiting for new data. While similar to instinct, which is primal and hardwired, it is more flexible and less impulsive.
Many successful people say they rely on their intuition to guide them in business. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Opera Winfrey all admit to using intuition in their business dealings.
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Five Ways to Develop Your Intuition
You may think that you lack intuition or that yours does not work well. But everyone is intuitive and can learn how to tap into it. It is a mental muscle that can be trained and strengthened. Intuition is like any other skill; if you don’t practice it and use it, it won’t work very well.
Here are a few ways you can improve your intuition.
1. Keep a journal
Journaling is a great way to develop and keep track of your intuition. When you have a dilemma or are trying to make a decision, write down any feelings you have in your body and where they are. Look for patterns, especially coincidence and synchronicities (these are very important) and keep a note. Write down any hunches you have; that way, you can test how well your intuition works. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to be doing well; the following will help fine-tune it.
Meditation is a great way to connect with your subconscious. By stilling your mind, you can connect to the here and now more easily. It doesn’t matter what type of meditation you practise; just find the one that is right for you; 10 minutes a day is all you need to do to make a difference.
3. Pay attention to feelings in your body
Take note of where in your body you feel emotions, such as fear and excitement. Is it in the same place or in a different area when you are happy or afraid? Are there any physical sensations that go with the emotions? Then see how you feel when you are about to make a decision. Does it feel right or not? Once you can identify the relationship between these feelings and the events accompanying them, you can use this knowledge to help make better decisions.
4. Write down your dreams
Your dreams are an expression of your subconscious. By interpreting our dreams, we can gain insight into what is happening in our life. Everybody dreams, but why we dream is still a mystery. One theory is that it is our brain’s way of processing what has been happening during the day, a form of problem-solving with the bonus of improving your memory, even if you don’t remember them!
Write down your dreams in your journal as soon as you wake up, as you are more likely to remember them. Write down as much detail as you can. Include any colours, smells, numbers, who or what is in it and any symbols. Then try interpreting their meaning by looking at how they relate to what is worrying you or that can be connected to what has been happening in your life. Make sure to take note of any emotions that stand out.
5. Nurture your creativity
You will have created things even if you do not consider yourself artistic. It could be when you are cooking, how you dress or do your make-up, or perhaps you have made Christmas decorations for the house. Everyone has innate creative skills. Creativity can be expressed in many ways: in art, writing, playing music or problem-solving. The creative process involves tapping into your imagination and intuition. It is like any other skill; you need to practice.
Whether you already have creative hobbies or not, trying out new things is a good idea until you find ones you enjoy. Don’t get disheartened if you’re not creating masterpieces immediately. It is about enjoying what you’re doing. Then if you keep practising, you will improve. You never know; you may be the next Banksy!
Intuition exists in all of us. But it is not valued as much as it should be. This is a shame as it is something that we can all develop and use to improve our lives. It can be a valuable tool to use along with other forms of reasoning in making decisions. We need to start using and trusting our intuition; after all, it is a shame to waste it.