The voice within
Anuradha Sahu explores the amazing and imperceptible divine gift of intuition, which we often ignore, and elaborates various ways we could employ to nurture it
I knew it! I could feel it. I should have avoided this one and taken the next auto,” I exclaimed as the autorickshaw I was travelling in came to an abrupt halt and, to my dismay, the driver declared very dryly, “Gaadi bandh ho gayi madam; lagta hai kuch gadbad hai. Time lagega (The auto won’t start; something’s wrong. It’ll take time).”
The very thought of being stranded on the busy national highway late evening, amid crazy traffic, with the rain beating down is nightmarish enough, and there I was, laden with two heavy shoulder bags and a mobile with its battery almost down, doing just that, struggling in vain to hail anything that would rescue me from the dire situation. After what seemed like a decade of gruelling hours, I managed to reach home drenched, relieved, and a tad wiser—wise enough to know that it helps to heed the voice inside.
This led me to contemplate, and I remembered the words of Frank Capra: “A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.”
We all must have, at some point or the other, experienced times when we just ‘knew’ or felt certainty about a person, an object, or an event without undergoing the usual cycle of perception-cognition-analysis-inference. Almost everyone has had, at some time, a feeling about something, good or bad, and on following their intuition, discovered that they were right. What is this ‘hunch’ or ‘gut feeling’?
What is intuition?
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev—founder of Isha Foundation, yogi, mystic, and prominent spiritual leader—says, “Intuition is not a different dimension of perception, as people usually try to make it out to be. Intuition is just a quicker way of arriving at the same answer. Intuition is just a way of making use of the data and jumping the steps. For example, let’s say I ask you, ‘This year, first of September, what day is it?’ You will take a paper and a pen and start calculating. It may take eight to 10 steps for you to get there. But anyway, these calculations are there in your mind. If you are intuitive, you don’t go through those ten steps; you just arrive at the answer. If your mind works like this, you don’t have to calculate everything each time; you can just pull out the relevant information as and when required. That is intuition.”
The human brain is said to be one of the biggest mysteries of the universe. Several neurological studies have affirmed that we use only a fraction of our neurons in our day-to-day activities. When we are in a state of deep meditation, our mental faculties expand and new skills emerge, one of them being intuition.
Derived from the Latin word intueor meaning ‘to see’, intuition is that power of the mind which ‘sees’ answers to problems or decisions in the absence of any logical explanation. Also known as ‘gut feeling,’ it’s the ability to comprehend something instinctively without evident rational thought, conscious reasoning, or perception—something like a ‘snap judgement’.
Yet, ever so often, we cite excuses and override this guiding voice till we can hear it no more and allow ourselves to drift through life, lost and listless, having given away our power to worldly distractions. In such cases, we are left with a niggling feeling that something is not right but are unable to put a finger on it.
Contrary to common belief, studies say it’s not just women who harbour this mysterious instinct, but men too can be powerfully intuitive. “Mother’s intuition is the deep intuitive blood bond a mother can have with her child. It is a sixth sense mothers have that the child may be in danger or in need,” says psychiatrist Dr Judith Orloff, author of Guide to Intuitive Healing.
It’s encouraging to know that despite being ignored for a long time, the little voice does not fade out completely. It remains and manifests in other ways such as a wake-up call, maybe through some illness, a breakup, a financial strain, or a business setback to get us back on track and ready to tune in to the genius within. The universe wants us to have the best and it’s this voice that helps us, guides us, and shows us the way as we journey through life’s lessons.
HuffPost president and editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington, explains in her upcoming book Thrive:
“Even when we’re not at a fork in the road, wondering what to do and trying to hear that inner voice, our intuition is always there, always reading the situation, always trying to steer us the right way. But can we hear it? Are we paying attention? Are we living a life that keeps the pathway to our intuition unblocked? Feeding and nurturing our intuition and living a life in which we can make use of its wisdom is one key way to thrive at work and in life.”
“Everyone has intuitive powers. One only needs to peel off the layers that cover it. Sit still for some time every day, be a witness, become aware of your breath, and go inwards to tune into the divine frequency within you. Intuition is the nudge from your consciousness,” says healer and facilitator Vyjayanti Tejuja.
It is said that intuition does not arise in the mind due to a process of thinking. One cannot be constantly thinking about something all along and then have an intuition. It is something that is very spontaneous and not the result of thinking linearly from one thought to the next, to arrive at the ‘conclusion’.
Motivational speaker and mentor Bhaavin Shah opines, “Existence is nonlinear—many things at a time. Thinking, which is linear, can never catch up with nonlinear existence.” He adds, “What is the guarantee that new factors other than what you thought will not come into play?”
Are you intuitive?
So how do you know if you are intuitive? Here are some signs that you may be an intuitive person, with the ability to feel things that others may not.
Intuitive people have vivid dreams and can remember them more clearly than others. They could be seen as a prediction or an experience of deja vu when a situation turns out to be just as in the dream. They are more aware of their emotions which manifest in the way of a ‘gut feeling’. Awareness of one’s emotions is the key to understanding the power of intuition. Empathy is another trait, and someone who is highly intuitive will be able to pick up on the emotions of friends, family, or complete strangers.
Apart from emotions, intuitive individuals are also aware of their thoughts and actions, and how they impact their outlook on life as well as the people around them.
Practising mindfulness is a large part of being self-aware. Comprehending the surroundings more minutely and noticing little things that no one else seems to or are considered unimportant by others, are taken cognizance of by an intuitive person.
Creativity is another trait and can be expressed in multifarious ways. It often allows an intuitive person to connect with the world and the people around them. The creativity of an intuitive person rises deep within from a space they can’t logically elucidate. Intuitive people understand the complexity and nuances of all situations and refrain from seeing any issue as starkly black or white.
Their socialising pattern is exclusive. They enjoy connecting with people and are also capable of enjoying solitude without becoming lonely. They do not take things at face value and analyse a situation to the minutest detail because deep down, they know that there’s more to it than what’s visible on the surface. Intuitive people are more inclined to seeking answers beyond those given to them.
Though intuition can warn one of undesirable things and situations, it does not, in any way, imply turning away from the positives in life. One can connect more ably with one’s intuitive nature given the ability to see the silver lining even after intuition has warned of something bad.
Intuition is all about being aware of ourselves, our thoughts, emotions, and the world around us, including the little things that matter.
It is much like a sixth sense and not one that everyone has. If one is in the habit of dismissing these feelings as paranoia or just plain lucky guesses, it’s likely that one may be a powerfully intuitive person without even knowing it.
“Is my intuition always right?”
The answer to this question is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’. It is important to separate intuition from wishful thinking. Experts opine that the purest intuitions are always right but those tinged by one’s own thoughts and emotions may only be partially correct or even completely wrong. With practice, one can learn to assess one’s intuitive experiences and identify when they are more likely to be right.
Can we develop intuition?
We all have intuitive skills to help, guide, and protect us. With the approach of adulthood and the accompanying stress, this gift does tend to get suppressed given the need to conform to societal norms. The more we get into the rut of the mundane, the more we stop listening to this little voice within which guides us. Like anything else in life, the intuitive process also needs to be nurtured.
To the question if there was truly some power like intuition and how one could acquire it, H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar—eminent spiritual master, humanitarian, and founder of The Art of Living Foundation—says, “Yes, of course you can develop your intuition through regular meditation. When the mind is free of cravings, aversions, and distortions, then it settles and becomes sharper. That is when intuition develops. But if your mind is constantly stuck in desires about something or the other, then it does not happen. When your mind settles and becomes still, then these abilities develop in you.”
The Art of Living Prajñā Yoga (Intuition Process) helps children tap into the intuitive abilities of the mind, which is demonstrated by them seeing colours, reading text, and identifying pictures with their eyes closed. Deep and enigmatic faculties are present in a latent form in every child. To make these faculties blossom and get more established, the mind needs proper nurturing and nourishment, which is done in the Intuition Process.
Allow the little voice inside to guide you to overcome a lot of the overwhelming situations and confusion that life tosses at us daily. Being sensitive and listening to your ‘gut feeling’ can make you feel more confident and assured in your life’s journey.
How to develop intuition
Intuition is a dynamic, powerful, and highly valuable skill which can be developed in the following ways:
• It is essential to live in the now. You cannot listen to the voice if your mind oscillates between the past and the future. The gift of intuition works best when the mind is in the present.
• Keep a journal of your conscious thoughts. Simply write what comes to mind without judging it or even thinking about what you are writing.
• Observe your energy levels. Pay attention to whether being around someone makes you feel tired and drained or energetic and lively.
• Do something creative.
• Pay attention to your dreams. Dreams often give cues and are intuitive messengers.
• Meditate. It is one of the most useful ways of clearing your mind of extraneous thoughts, worries, and overthinking. A daily habit of meditating, even for a few minutes, can help you tune into your deeper feelings, desires, and needs.
• Take a break or a sabbatical from your day-to-day life and be where you are completely disconnected from technology, distractions, and responsibilities.
• Go outside, breathe in some fresh air, move your limbs, and simply feel nature. Walk or run.
• Be in a space of quietude.
• Employ hindsight and think over past hunches which you may or may not have heeded. Looking back can be a learning experience as you may be able to see how your intuition was at work.
• Do something repetitive, like chopping vegetables, stapling papers, or knitting, which does not require much brain power. While doing these activities, ask your intuitive mind for guidance on a problem or ideas for a project.
• Take a shower. The combination of the quiet space, the warm water, and the small enclosure lends itself to tapping into your intuition.
• Pay attention to your sudden feelings and tune in to how your gut instinct shows up in your body as reactions.
• Carry a notebook with you or use an app on your phone to make notes about hunches and sudden bursts of ideas. Writing them down will increase the likelihood of remembering them and acting on them at the right time. Don’t fight the hunch or intuitive urge that you get. Try to go with it rather than avoid it.
• Do not confuse intuition with wishful or fearful thinking. At times we become very preoccupied with a particular outcome or result. It is vital to distinguish between an intuitive hunch and wishful or fearful thinking.
• Give your brain and body full permission to tap into your intuitive processes and invite insights for that moment of realisation, the ‘aha’ moment. Sometimes, we need a full detox from our busy lives in order to kickstart intuition.
• Develop a habit of listening to your inner voice. Sometimes the answer comes when we are least expecting it.
• Ask for guidance and envision a conversation with your inner mentor and guide.
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