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In Praise of Intuition

We live in a society where intellect is king and science is the coin of the realm. It’s important to be well-educated and to know a lot of facts. The television air-waves are filled with game shows where people are rewarded for knowing everything from what words come next in the song to data about the world you supposedly learned in the 5th grade. We’ve been led to believe that if you can’t prove it, repeatedly, in a laboratory, it isn’t true or valid. But what if intellect were, although undeniably important, a lesser way to perceive the world? What if intuition actually gave you a clearer picture?

forest pathEveryone has intuition, although some people access is more readily than others. Everyone is familiar with the phrase, “I just had a gut feeling” because everyone has experienced that before. But pretty often it’s said in the retrospect of not having paid attention to that feeling. We can talk ourselves into and out of all kinds of things because we’ve been trained to believe that reasoning gives more reliable information than listening to a little voice inside that we can’t really identify. However, several scientific studies have been done which indicate that using language actually clouds our access to useful data in our unconscious mind. In other words, the more you talk something through (or think it through in words) the less likely you are to actually arrive at the best conclusion.

This may be a strange thing for someone who helps people talk things through for a living to bring up, but I know from my own experience that too much talking can actually cloud things or at least leave you feeling completely stuck. I always encourage people to opt for what feels right, rather than what they can give a lot of good reasons for. I also employ a variety of tools for helping people to by-pass their conscious minds, especially when they are feeling most at an impasse. This might be anything from encouraging them to generate a list of outlandish solutions to noticing how a particular possibility feels in their body.

A lot of my own decision making and problem solving occurs in meditation or in the altered consciousness of a shamanic journey. Turning my cognitive process way down allows my intuition to come more to the surface, which in turn gives me better answers to my questions. I also work with a coach on a regular basis, so there’s plenty of talking it out as well, but my coach, Mary, always asks me, “What do you want?” not “What do you think would be reasonable and sensible to want?”

Some of the most beautiful and powerful experiences of my life have come from “just knowing” something that is not measurable by instruments, and not even understanding how I knew it. When my father was nearing the end of his life, I took a break from helping to care for him to go on a shopping trip with a friend. We knew he was declining but he’d been stable and it seemed like a good idea to have a bit of a break. This was in the days before cell phones and while we were looking around a store, planning to go even further away into downtown, I suddenly got the urge to call and check on him. When I couldn’t get through on the phone, I insisted that we turn around and go home. My friend tried to talk me into going ahead with our plans, but I just knew that I had to get back as soon as possible. Sure enough, as I turned down the street, there was the ambulance waiting to take my father to hospice. He had taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the few hours that I’d been away. There was no way to have anticipated that it would have happened that day or anytime soon, so I am infinitely glad that I listened to that little voice in my head and acted on what it said.

I’ve had many instances since then where I was glad I listened to my intuition, and many times where I wished I had listened. It’s not enough to hear your intuition. Follow through on what it tells you. There may be a few false steps but that’s how you strengthen that muscle and it gets more and more reliable.

To hear more about intuition, tune in on Friday, May 27th at 11:30 am ET to my internet radio program, Spiritual Integration with Life Coach Laura, where I’ll be hosting a round-table discussion about the nature of intuition and how to better cultivate it.  Click on the link at 11:30 to listen live or tune in anytime afterwards to the on-demand recording at the same link.

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