By Aparna Jacob
You came into this life equipped with everything you needed to know. So, when uncertain about a choice to be made, turn within for directions, to that unfailing guide – your intuition
Okay, I`ll be the first to confess. I flip coins to arrive at crucial career decisions and even resort to games like, ‘If that signal changes to green before I get there, then the answer to my question is `yes`.’ Irrational? Admittedly. But I`m sure I`m not alone.
We usually go through life carefully, afraid of stumbling on the dark roads in what appears to be uncharted terrain. Most of us seek an indication, a cosmic approval that we are doing the `right` thing.
Now what if someone were to tell you that each of us has chosen to come into this life with a mission, a purpose, the map of which is imprinted on our soul? That you can easily access the directions at will just by asking guidance from an inbuilt compass?
Reading the Compass
All of us were born fixed with this compass, usually referred to as intuition. How does one describe it? The dictionary defines intuition as `quick and ready insight` and the `act or process of coming to direct knowledge without reasoning or inferring`. It is derived from the Latin word intueri – `to see within`.
Intuition provides us additional information that does not come from the analytical side of the brain. This does not mean it`s the antithesis of reason. In fact, intuition has often been described as a `clear cold light` because it is pure reason. Intuition reveals a thing in its entirety, thus helping make sense of the world.
Journalist Dilip Raote describes intuition as ‘taking in the larger picture and penetrating to its essence, or comprehending the entire situation, in a moment’. Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, author of Man`s Psychic Life, Elements and Structure, describes intuition as ‘true illumination, deep understanding, and clarity’. Vedanta teacher Uday Acharya explains it as ‘a comprehensive grip of the principle of universality’. With this, comes a comprehension of things in their totality, a holistic knowing.
My favorite definition came from a 27-year-old psychic, Daisy Sha, who says: ‘Each one of us has a private coaching class, where we sit `in tuition`.’ Her conviction speaks when she says: ‘Within each of us resides a wisdom called intuition. When developed, trusted and followed, it is a powerful inner compass that unerringly points us in the direction of success.’
Spiritual writer Deepa Kodikal calls intuition ‘a quick simultaneous dawning of knowledge that is accompanied by a solution’. In times of crisis, she explains, not only do you have precise directions as to what to do, but it`s also as if nature conspires to smooth out the hurdles in your path.
Deepa elaborates with several examples from her life: ‘I remember as a student, I was more involved in extra-curricular activities than studies. The night before exams, I`d read whatever came first when I opened a book. Those were always the questions asked the next day!’
Our Heart Knows
‘The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of,’ said Blaise Pascal. And this is how most people agree intuition works. It`s a feeling that blooms from your heart. A few years ago, for instance, Daisy`s quest for an apartment led her through the slummy back lanes of suburban Mumbai to an old, nondescript building. ‘The place was in shambles. But the minute I stepped through the door, a calm descended on me. I just knew this was it.’ The house was caught in legal tangles. ‘But once I`d made the decision, everything resolved itself gradually.’
‘Set your intention and trust the universe to take care of the details,’ says Mike Fotheringham. It seems that getting in touch with one`s dream is the first step. But how does one unearth something buried under years of conditioning, obligations and forgetting? Here`s a technique intuitive consultant Lynn Robinson prescribes: ‘The goal you aspire for is what gives meaning to your life.’ Lynn continues: ‘So every time you feel enthusiastic, it means that God is saying `yes` to your goals. Enthusiasm is nothing but intuition speaking to you.’
Your true dream, the divine mission you arrived with, can never be selfish or ruinous. So it isn`t as limited as earning your next million or getting the better of a colleague. The knowledge from the divine spark within occurs only when we strive toward purity, compassion, and understanding of the human condition. But accessing the springs of our noble intents often involves wading through the morass of self-centredness. ‘That strong urge you feel within could well be wishful thinking or your ego speaking,’ warns Deepa. ‘Keeping a pure mind is a prerequisite so that your intuitive messages aren`t obfuscated by negativity or selfishness.’ Acharya has another yardstick to check messages from the ego: ‘The ego is reactive. Its messages tend to be based on thoughts of scarcity, guilt and fear. Intuition speaks from the divinity within you.’
Tapping the Wellspring
Acharya`s theory of attuning the internal and the external has echoes of the scientific explanation offered for the workings of intuition. Mirka Knaster, author of Discovering the Body`s Wisdom, suggests that the body`s internal network of sensory receptors provide us with proprioception (awareness of the precise position of our body) and kinesthesia (the awareness of direction of movement) which, combined, function as a sixth sense, allowing us to know where we are in space and time. According to Knaster, these proprioceptors pick up energy emanating from other people and other creatures around us.
An old classmate and her boyfriend are so in tune with each other`s thoughts that on most occasions they wait for each other at the same spot without a prior intimation. Vrishaali Mohite, a Mumbai housewife, can intuit about the wellbeing of her son studying engineering in Nagpur. She remembers: ‘I dreamt that he`d fallen and hurt his left foot.’ She called Nagpur only to be told that he had fractured his left leg in a bike accident the previous day.
With sharpened receptivity, we lay the groundwork for a spiritual connection to one another and to God, and learn to recognize messages from the higher self when we hear them. These messages, which flash upon the inward eye, often have their source in the subconscious. Perhaps you have been mulling over a problem for weeks, coming to no solution. Then suddenly, while daydreaming during another task, a solution pops up.
A relaxed frame of mind is a receptive mind and in this receptive state you `hear` your intuition. Says Raote: ‘When engrossed in one`s work, with a certain level of detachment, the left and the right side of the brain conjoin and sparks of intuition fly.’ Teachers will be in complete agreement about how, when immersed in correcting papers, they always turn to the correct page.
Deepa attributes intuition to that original source, call it God or even your superconscious, that has an element of sadguru tattwa. Communications of the superconscious or higher source are felt as warnings, urgings, new ideas, inspirations, breakthroughs in understanding, desires to redirect your life, a need to stop or let go of what you are doing, or a need to commit or go forward with what you are hesitant about.
Intuitive impressions come to us in a variety of ways-usually through a highly developed sense like vision. Clairvoyants discern objects, people, or situations not with the physical eyes, but with an internal sense sometimes referred to as the `third eye`. Such `visions` concern something beyond one`s physical view, in the next room, down the street, or a thousand miles away. Similarly, one could be clairaudient, even clairsavourant or clairscent.
Clairsentience or clear sensing is probably the most frequent way intuition manifests in our lives, through hunches, gut feelings or a sense of knowing without knowing how one knows.
This `sensing` is often accompanied by a physical sensation – for some people in the solar plexus, for others in the heart area. Some feel a prickling of the skin. Physical sensations, such as a feeling of elation that follows a decision, or the heavy knot you experience when you`ve made a bad choice are intuitive signs, informs Lynn Robinson.
When intuition comes to us this way, it is so much like the regular musings of our mind that we can easily miss it, dismiss it, or mistake it for our own ruminations. But the good news, as Lynn points out, is that intuition never stops knocking. One only needs to be mindful of the subtle nudges it gives us. These, most often, take the form of thoughts.
Don`t be afraid to explore a new line of thought. A slight shift in perception is helpful in showing a heap of options you didn`t even consider earlier. Visual images and symbolic pictures were how Einstein received his creative solutions. He used what he called `thought experiments` to arrive at solutions to highly complex problems. For instance, an image of a person riding a beam of light allowed him the insight that gave birth to the theory of relativity. He also reported that many of his solutions came to him while shaving!
While you sleep, the mind detachedly processes the information it has and often the solution surfaces in dreams as symbols and metaphors. Also, don`t be dismissive of a string of coincidences. Lynn tells her clients: ‘Coincidences are God`s way of remaining anonymous. We often have serendipity occurring in our lives to show us we are on the right path.’
Rekha Krishnan, an intuitive painter in the UK, says: ‘I do not `hear` a voice telling me what to do. In moments of crisis, the solution comes through different sources. At times, the message comes through an external source, like a person telling you something that immediately rings a bell, reading an article or a book.’ At certain times, she continues, situations occur that force you to act in a certain way, or stop you from doing something.
The Gift of Faith
When following a hunch, fear is a constant accomplice. But one can`t drive through life with one foot on the accelerator of dreams and the other on the brake of fear. Sometimes one needs to trust and take a leap of faith.
Last year, Rekha`s husband was called on an assignment to London, which meant that the family would have to move. Rekha recalls the time her intuition was a beacon of hope. ‘I would be leaving behind a wonderful network of friends, my reiki group and the art community. I would have to start everything afresh where I didn`t know anyone. I just felt it was `right` for me. Now that I have been here for nine months, I realize it was the right decision. It has been a time of tremendous personal growth.’
Unfortunately, intuition often remains unrecognized and unappreciated, and therefore repressed or latent. Developing one`s intuition can have several uses – improved communication, greater understanding of the motivations, thoughts, and feelings of others, allowing us to become more tolerant and loving towards them.
It also unleashes creativity. A talented artist draws from his intuition to produce his best works. When a poet feels intensely one with nature, her poetry blooms from the wells of intuition.
Einstein used to say: ‘The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don`t know how or why.’ Mahatma Gandhi used his intuition to lead a country to freedom. Leonardo da Vinci, Bach, Mozart, Plato and Shakespeare attuned themselves to realms of consciousness higher than the physical world of personality through their intuition.
Intuition, though, is not the prerogative of a chosen few. ‘It`s like a skill that can be developed. The more you use it the better you get at it,’ says Deepa. ‘Unflinching honesty in facing yourself, your dreams and fears is the only prerequisite. Next, begin viewing problems and confrontations as lessons to be learnt.’
Awakening Your Intuition
The regular practice of meditation, most intuitivist agree, allows us to tune in to our higher senses and clear our sensory systems of other influences. We become cognisant of impulses that arise from within with which we truly resonate.
Raote believes that intuition is to be exercised like any muscle, which would otherwise atrophy. He recommends a practical path: ‘Start with observation. Don`t walk with your sights on the destination. Become mindful of things around you, watch the ways of the world. It`s no different from going to visiting nine offices to apply for a job. When you get to the tenth, you`ll size up the situation in the first glance.’
Rekha Gawrie who guides people to develop their ESP skills shares some techniques: ‘Write your question in a notebook. Be precise. Put away the book and for the next three days look for the answers in the signs the universe will send you.’
Alternatively, relax and concentrate. Ask your question and go blank. For five to 10 minutes, visualize white light or seek out remote traffic sounds or any distant sound. Come back to the question and the first answer that pops up comes straight from the subconscious mind. The second one would be from the logical mind.
Spiritual author Shakti Gawain says: ‘The more we practice following our intuition, the more faith we develop because we see that it really works. Our lives are getting better and better. Start with small steps until you build confidence in yourself and gradually tackle bigger issues.’ Gawain assures: ‘Trusting your intuition will not lead you to do things that are selfish, irresponsible or hurtful to others. In reality, the opposite is true. Since intuition is connected to our souls and to the universal intelligence, it is always guiding us to our highest good and the greater good of all.’
Thus exercising your intuition is almost mandatory, akin to using a talent we have been endowed with. It only serves to enhance the overall quality of our lives.
Raote uses it when he has a column to turn in. ‘Once I`ve collected my material, I sleep over it to allow my mind to process it. In the morning, when I sit down to write, everything flows.’
Vrishaali on the other hand, guides her husband`s career through intuition, helping him make the right moves and warning him against pitfalls.
Rekha Gawrie is constantly on call at the bank close to her house that avails of her intuitive powers to track down defrauders. A friend working in the bank once accidentally gave a customer Rs 10,000 extra. Panic-stricken, she approached Gawrie who told her that the person who`d withdrawn the largest amount that day had the money. She was right.
Rekha Krishnan paints purely by intuition: ‘I do plan the work a little, but let it evolve on its own. Sometimes, when I feel I am `stuck` at a certain point and don`t know how to proceed, I just relax and let my mind go `blank`. Then somehow, I start working, applying colours. When I finish the work, I know that I have received `guidance`.’
One significant incident was when she painted a portrait of Mikao Usui, the founder of reiki, who lived a hundred years ago. She recounts: ‘I had with me a photocopy of a photograph, which was not even a clear image. I could not see the shape of his eyes, nor did I know his skin tone. I started drawing, and somehow, kept working confidently, `guided` at every step. It developed into a very lively portrait and filled me with great joy and peace!’
Acharya points out: ‘It`s about living fuller lives. Most of us function at very superficial levels. We are reactive. But let`s remember that there`s always a better way of responding to a situation. Intuition works at a deeper proactive level.’
Yes, learning to follow your intuition can sometimes feel a bit like `living on the edge`. In a sense, it`s learning to live without the false sense of security that comes from trying to control everything that happens to us. It`s recognizing that as we follow our inner guidance, wonderful things are going to unfold for us, things that we may not even imagine. But all of which is our spiritual birthright.
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In a notebook, write down your request for intuitive guidance. For example, ‘‘I feel ready to leave my present job. Is this the right decision?’’ Over the next few days, jot down words, dreams, feelings and insights that come to you. See if a theme emerges to show you direction.
• Take note of what gives you joy, energises you and what drains you out. As you inch your way to your dream, every step closer will fill you with excitement. Wrong decisions will leave your heart heavy and dissatisfied. Enthusiasm is your intuition speaking.
• Lynn Robinson suggests keeping a ‘surrender box’. Write down your concern, for example, ‘‘How can I improve my communication with my brother?’’ Place it where it will be in constant view. Settle down for some quiet contemplation, respectful silence and meditation. Let your mind blank out, visualize white light or listen to traffic sounds in the distance. Five to 10 minutes later, ask your question. Allow any wisdom or guidance to enter your consciousness.
• Try a practical method of honing your intuition. Be alert and observe the happenings around you. Being mindful reveals to you the workings of the world and with practice you’ll be able to size up the entire scenario or grasp its very essence at the first glance.
• Regular meditation allows one to tune in to the higher senses, even sharpen the basic senses. You will begin to resonate with your true impulses as well as be in harmony with the world around you. It will improve your ability to understand, interpret and follow through on the intuitions you receive.
• Sleep over a problem. It allows your mind to process and analyze the information it has and come up with an unbiased solution. Your intuition often shows you the way through symbols in your dreams.
• Beginners can seek intuitive guidance in small steps. Practice will hone your intuitive powers and with increasing confidence, you can entrust it with the most important decisions of your life.