Never ignore a gut feeling, but never believe that it’s enough. – Robert Heller
What is Intuition Really?
Intuition means being “in-tune” with life. It’s a state where you have the ability to understanding something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. It’s an instinctive feeling you have about something that directs your focus and attention. In other words, it’s akin to having knowledge or a heightened sense of awareness about something that has been weighing on your mind. Some people describe it as a gut feeling, while others call it a hunch that reveals answers to a dilemma they have been facing.
The moment you tap your intuition, you are no longer emotionally involved in the situation. This subsequently helps expand your perspective and understanding of things. From this place of intuitive thought, things become crystal clear and answers come readily. You become immediately present in the spur of the moment and you suddenly have all the answers you need to make the most effective decision moving forward.
Intuition brings into your life synchronicity, which means that you tend to be in the right place at the right time, all of the time. This is when things (answers, solutions, people) appear in your life just as you need them. This is, in essence, the manifestation process at work. It means that your subconscious desires are congruent with your conscious intentions, and this brings opportunity and coincidences into your life. However, these are not just haphazard random events that are built upon some sort of luck. These things have appeared in your life because you have no emotional or psychological blockages that are clouding your judgment and perspective of the world. You are free to see things how they should be seen, and as a result, you notice more things and therefore can make better decisions because you have more information to work with.
The Role of the Inner Mind
Intuition is often considered a sixth sense. And rightly so, given that it is directly hooked up to the Inner Mind.
The Inner Mind is very much the subconscious part of you that stores all stimuli that you have encountered over a lifetime. In other words, everything that has come through your five senses — whether you can consciously recall it or not — is stored within the Inner Mind. The Inner Mind is, therefore, a storehouse of knowledge, memories, and information about your entire life. It, for instance, knows what you ate for breakfast on your 6th birthday, and remembers the very first time you stood on two legs. All of these experiences came through your five sensory organs, and they are all stored in the recesses of your Inner Mind.
You might be thinking that you don’t consciously remember everything that has occurred in your life. And that’s perfectly normal. You don’t want to remember absolutely everything. To remember everything that ever came through your five senses would quickly become overwhelming. Your conscious brain would immediately become confused because it would have no priorities to go by. Without priorities, there would be absolute mayhem. But thankfully that isn’t a problem thanks to the Reticular Activation System.
The Reticular Activation System
The Reticular Activation System (RAS) was first introduced by Anthony Robbins in his best selling book Awaken the Giant Within. It shouldn’t be confused with the part of the brain known as the Reticular Activating System, however, they are most certainly related.
The RAS is a filter that is applied to the staggering amount of data that gets picked up by the five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. This filter works 24/7, and it’s the only thing that’s keeping you from being overwhelmed by the massive amount of stimuli passing through your sensory organs.
The RAS determines what you consciously decide to give your attention to at any given moment in time — while the remaining data gets filtered out and transferred to the unconscious parts of your brain.
All this is very significant because when you set concrete goals, you at that moment indicate to your RAS that anything associated with these goals is important to you. As a result, your RAS goes to work bringing to your attention data and opportunities that are aligned with these goals. And that is essentially what intuitive thoughts are… well, sort of. At least that’s what they are from a scientific/psychological perspective. However, there is also a spiritual perspective that we must take into consideration.
A Spiritual Understanding of Intuition
From a spiritual context, your intuition is tied to a Collective Consciousness. This is a combined consciousness of humanity that shapes your daily beliefs and perspectives about the world. This consciousness is much like a collective brain that we are all a part of. Every thought, emotion, idea, belief, perspective, etc, already exists within the collective consciousness of humanity. Therefore whenever you have a thought or get an idea, these things don’t just come out of nowhere. You actually borrow them from this collective consciousness and use them in the real world.
Imagine this collective consciousness being much like a gigantic library filled with books that record every human thought and experience from the beginning of time. Every single day you are tapping into the knowledge-base of this library. In fact, every thought and idea you hold onto comes from this library. Therefore there is nothing unique about any thought or idea. It might be unique to you, however, it’s certainly not unique from a collective consciousness perspective. In fact, this thought or idea you have had, others have also had, and these other people pulled this thought or idea from the same source you used.
All this is very significant because it suggests that you’re always connected to other people. In fact, we are all connected to every single person on this planet — past, present and future — on a sub-atomic level.
What all this suggests is that whenever you have an intuitive thought, you are actually tapping into this source of infinite knowledge. This collective consciousness knows all and understands all because it exists beyond space and time, which means that the past, present, and future are all occurring right now. There is no notion of time, and as such this collective consciousness can provide you with the answers you need to make the best decision that will help fulfill your desired intentions. Therefore, whenever you have an intuitive thought, you are in actuality tapping into this source of infinite knowledge that already has all the answers to the problems you are facing.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of how intuition works from a spiritual context, please have a read of:
Both these articles will provide you with the background information you need to shed some light on this topic.
A Scientific Understanding of Intuition
From a scientific context, your intuition is tied to your RAS and Inner Mind. You will, for instance, set a goal that you would like to achieve. This goal sends a message to your RAS that certain things related to this goal are important to you. The RAS then goes to work filtering through your five senses only the things that are important and related to this goal. At the same time, your Inner Mind scours its memory storage banks of all the sensory experiences you have ever had and brings to your conscious attention memories and information related to the goal you are wanting to achieve.
Your RAS, therefore, filters through your five senses only the most relevant information that is applicable to help you achieve your goal, while your Inner Mind brings forth memories that are also related to that goal. It does this specifically through association.
What this means is that every memory and experience you have ever had is coded into your brain at a subconscious level. These memories are connected through association, meaning that memories which are related in some way are subsequently connected into groups or bundles of information. Therefore, if you suddenly recall one specific memory, you will also tend to recall other memories that are linked to that particular memory through association. And this is essentially what happens when you have a “deja-vu” experience. You have an experience in the present moment, and you suddenly find yourself recalling a feeling or memory from your past that you previously had no conscious knowledge or awareness of.
As with a deja-vu experience, intuitive thoughts come about as a result of the work done by your RAS and the memories brought into conscious awareness by your Inner Mind. The RAS will capture the most important things in the present moment that are related to your goal, and your Inner Mind will bring to light past memories through association that is relevant to the goal that you are trying to accomplish. Then, as a result, you suddenly see the circumstances in front of you far more clearly than ever before — giving full credit to your intuition.
You are suddenly feeling “intuitive” because you are so intensely focused on your goal or problem, and this has made you far more aware of your surroundings then you would be under normal circumstances. Likewise, because of your focused-attention, this has now stimulated associations within your brain that have brought to light unconscious memories. These unconscious memories now become conscious and provide you with further insights into your circumstances. However, be wary that these insights might very well be flawed because they are based on your past memories and experiences, which might not be accurate or might not apply to your current situation. And that’s why intuitive thought doesn’t always lead us down the right path, mainly because it’s not some miraculous answer that comes from a higher source. It’s rather an answer that comes from an unconscious source that is an integral part of you.
It’s important to keep in mind that intuition can also be triggered by psychological anchors. These anchors can suddenly bring to the surface dormant thoughts and/or emotions that will immediately shift how you think and feel about your situation. Many people might call this “intuition”, however, it’s nothing more than a trigger that has brought about a different state-of-mind.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of how the brain functions and how the process of psychological anchoring works in the real world, please have a read of:
- Understanding the Nature of the Brain
- Overcoming a Negative Mental Attitude
- Transforming Unhelpful Habits
The Benefits of Intuition
When you’re intuitive you naturally become more observant and aware of your surroundings. As a result, you will tend to make fewer mistakes, which improves your ability to make decisions throughout the day. Likewise, tuning-in to your intuition can help boost your creativity and ability to solve problems, which can subsequently save you time.
All this is possible because you are tapping into a reservoir of memories of past experiences that can help you work through your circumstances far more effectively in the present moment. You might, for instance, be in the midst of working through a problem. However, little do you realize that at one point in the past you worked through a similar problem successfully. Although, this was a long time ago and you can’t consciously recall what you did or what exactly happened. Moreover, you don’t consciously make the connection between your current problem and other problems you’ve encountered in the past. However, your Inner Mind finds this connection through association, and it goes to work bringing into conscious awareness possible solutions and answers that might help you in the present moment.
These solutions and answers come to you as sparks of inspiration. Consciously you don’t quite understand where they came from; you simply give credit to your intuitive abilities and successfully work through your problem based on a gut feeling. And yet, it wasn’t you gut that provided you with this spark of inspiration. It was your Inner Mind, or more specifically your subconscious that successfully made the necessary associations that connected your present circumstances with past experiences to help bring you the solutions and answers you were after. In other words, your subconscious pulled the necessary information you needed from your old memories and applied them to your current problem, thereby bringing into conscious awareness some interesting insights that you used to solve this problem.
Given this example, it’s clear to see that intuition isn’t some miraculous thing. It’s rather a process that works automatically resulting from the associations made in your brain.
Capturing Intuitive Thoughts
Most of the time the intuitive process works automatically without much thought, effort or attention. This is, of course, wonderful, however, this can certainly make it very difficult to capture your intuitive thoughts as they arise.
Intuitive thoughts are easy to miss because they have a very subtle nature about them. They come from the subconscious, and as such, they kind of sit under the surface of conscious awareness and can also appear in many different ways. You must, therefore, be finely attuned to your body and mind at all times without allowing your emotions to cloud your judgment.
Here are some ideas that will help you recognize and capture those intuitive thoughts:
Gain New Experiences and Acquire More Knowledge
When you’re faced with a problem, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things how you’ve always done things. This is the intellectual and rational way of overcoming your problems. However, what worked in the past might not necessarily work in the present moment to help you solve your problem. For this reason, it’s important to expand your horizons by seeking out new and relevant experiences and knowledge associated with your problem or the goal you are working towards.
As you go about the process of gaining new experiences, knowledge, and skills, your subconscious is constantly being stimulated. It goes to work for you in the background trying to make associations between your current life experiences and the past experiences it has stored in its databank of memories. And as it does this, some surprising flashes of inspiration might cross your mind as seemingly unrelated things will be associated with your current situation.
What you are essentially doing here is creating a heightened sense of awareness. While your subconscious might not be familiar with your current circumstances, it however still tries to make sense of this new information by combining it with what it already knows and feels comfortable with. This subsequently connects many random and seemingly unrelated memories together through association, thereby potentially providing you with some flashes of insight as you work through your problem.
It is however important not to rush this process. Take small vigilant steps. Don’t try to force answers to come to you. Intuition cannot be forced, it must rather be stimulated through association.
Seek Out Solutions and Answers
Intuition can either lead you in the right direction, or it can lead you astray. And this all depends upon where you direct your focus and attention.
If you recall, your brain has this thing known as the Reticular Activation System (RAS). This system works in the background bringing to your attention the things that it understands are most important to you. Therefore, if you’re focused on the things you don’t want, then your RAS will deem these things as being important. It will, therefore, direct your attention to related things that you don’t want, which will lead your intuition astray.
You must instead focus on asking relevant questions that direct your mind and attention to the answers and solutions you are after. Only in this way will you develop the necessary awareness required to spot relevant people, circumstances, and opportunities that will allow you to make better decisions moving forward. This, of course, is a subtle awareness that will direct the intuitive thought process.
Again, it’s important to remind yourself that intuition cannot be forced. If you’re asking questions but not getting answers, then that’s perfectly okay. Don’t rush things. Intuitive thoughts will come to you randomly when you least expect them. They will come to you when your RAS spots something important, or when your subconscious makes the relevant associations to past memories and experiences. Therefore at times, it might actually be worthwhile consciously letting go of finding the relevant answers in order to allow your subconscious time to process what is happening.
Attend to Sudden Changes
In order to capture intuitive thoughts and feelings, it’s absolutely paramount that you stay self-aware and vigilant at all times to sudden impressions, unexpected dreams, people, circumstances, feelings, emotions, and impulses that may suddenly arise.
As your RAS and subconscious work in the background, you might suddenly get certain feelings of excitement or discomfort within your body. You might of course not understand why you’re feeling this way; all you know is that there’s something different going on. This occurs because your subconscious might have made some kind of association that has triggered a particular feeling within your body. You can’t quite pinpoint what this feeling is about, however, you can kind of sense what direction this feeling is angling you towards.
These random feelings you might at times experience are often recognized through sudden energy shifts within your body. You might, for instance, feel happy and carefree at one stage, and then the very next moment you’re feeling uneasy about a decision you are about to make. Now this, of course, might not have anything to do with your intuition. It might simply mean that a psychological anchor has been fired off. However, it’s up to you to recognize what that feeling means and what you should subsequently do about it.
Of course, if we are to assume that this feeling came from a higher source of awareness, then it might very well provide you with a clear direction moving forward. However, first and foremost you must always rule out the possibility that this feeling was not caused by a psychological anchor. If you fail to do this, then you might be misdirected by your own psychological conditioning.
Journal Your Thoughts and Feelings
Take time to write out your thoughts, observations and daily experiences within a journal. Clarifying your thoughts and feelings on paper in this way will help stimulate the unconscious parts of your brain and potentially bring forth relevant associations that might provide you with a better sense of direction moving forward.
It’s important to remind yourself that writing things down stimulates more of your brain than just thinking about things. This subsequently triggers more associations with your brain, which leads to the possibility of gaining some better insights into your life and circumstances.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
When you’re feeling sluggish and low on energy, you will struggle to pick up on the subtle signals coming through your subconscious mind. Moreover, when you’re unhealthy you are more likely to make haphazard decisions based on your emotional state-of-mind rather than based on intuitive feelings. For this reason, it’s absolutely paramount that you make healthy lifestyle choices. This starts by eating a balanced diet and undertaking a regular exercise regime.
Exercise can actually be of great value because when you exercise your mind is more relaxed and open to new perspectives and possibilities. Now, of course, your body might be in some pain, however, the fact that you are breathing more deeply can certainly help bring about more clarity-of-thought, which can potentially trigger intuitive thoughts, insights, and feelings more readily.
Use Meditation and Self-Reflection
Meditation can open the doors to some incredible insights and perspectives that you normally would not experience in a normal waking state. It works because the process of meditation helps bring stillness to your mind and body. And with stillness comes a greater sense of awareness of the subtle signals coming through your subconscious.
There are two ways you can meditate. You can for instance use meditation as a form of self-reflection where you reflect upon your current problems and circumstances in order to trigger relevant associations within your brain that may help bring forth the answers you are after. These answers may help you gain the necessary insights you need to help you make better intuitive decisions moving forward.
Alternatively, you can use meditation as a means of silencing the chatter within your brain. Here, you are focusing on the silent spaces between your thoughts. Your objective is to rest within these spaces for as long as possible while meditating. This is helpful because within the spaces between your thoughts you may find a way to tune-in to those subtle feelings within your body that can help guide you intuitively in the right direction. This is advantageous because you are removing your intellect and your emotional desires from the decision-making process. This subsequently brings about a clarity of thought that you might not have had before.
Finally, you can use periods of downtime to close your eyes and stimulate your imagination by creating random scenarios in your head about your life and circumstances. These scenarios can help trigger relevant associations that might bring into conscious awareness the answers you are after.
The Intuitive Mindset
In order to capture intuitive thoughts more readily, it’s important that you show patience, discipline, and gratitude. You must have the necessary faith and trust in yourself — a state of knowing — that you will make the right decisions moving forward. And this faith and trust is, of course, dependent upon your ability to distinguish between a rational/emotional decision and an intuitive decision. Understanding these differences means that you will never be led astray by your decisions.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should never make any intellectual decisions. Oftentimes intellectual/rational decisions are more reliable than intuition. It’s only when making a rational decision isn’t as clear-cut as it should be, should you then turn to your intuition for guidance.
The Intuitive Process
The intuitive process works differently for different people. As such, it’s difficult to outline a set process that will work specifically for you. You must instead test the waters and get a sense of what feels most comfortable over time. However, despite this, there are certain steps you can take that will help you to strengthen your intuitive muscle.
Step 1: Decide What You Want
It’s important to first decide what it is you want. This sends a very clear message of intent to your subconscious mind to go to work and make the relevant associations that will help direct your intuitive thoughts. Ask yourself:
What is it that I want? Why?
What goal do I want to achieve? Why?
What problem would I like to overcome? Why?
It’s helpful to clarify what it is you want on paper and then to post it up somewhere in view where you can refer to it several times per day. This will keep your intention at the forefront of your mind at all times, which will help stimulate your RAS and encourage your subconscious mind to make the necessary connections to past memories and experiences that might be of value in the present moment.
Step 2: Get Curious
Having clarified your intentions clearly, it’s now time to get a little curious and begin persistently asking questions that are aligned with those intentions.
These questions you will be asking yourself throughout the day will help direct your RAS to the things you consider to be of utmost importance. It will, therefore, go to work in the background alerting you to people, events, and circumstances that are most relevant to the intentions you had in mind. Likewise, these questions will help stimulate your subconscious to keep making relevant associations that will help you gain deeper insights and understandings about your life and circumstances.
Throughout the day ask yourself questions that will spark your curiosity about your life and circumstances related to the intentions you outlined within Step One:
How is this of significance?
What is it that I am not seeing here?
What do I need to know here?
How could this best be solved?
How could this be overcome?
What other possibilities are there?
How could I make this work?
What kind of answers am I looking for?
You don’t necessarily need to have an answer to these questions; at least not at the beginning. Just the act of asking these questions will help stimulate your brain to the point that your subconscious mind will go to work in the background to help bring forth the answers you are looking for. Then when it comes to making a critical decision, you will have an inkling that you might not clearly consciously understand. It’s, however, this inkling that will help direct your path moving forward.
Step 3: Stay Open and Receptive to Answers
As you persistently ask questions, you will haphazardly receive random answers that might at first make very little sense. It is however important that you do not judge the answers you are receiving. These answers might not make much sense right now because they only present you with one piece of the puzzle. There are still missing pieces that may come to you over time in the form of coincidences, and even opportunities disguised as problems.
You may never of course fully understand what everything means. However, you will get those little inklings that tell you what the best decision moving forward might be. These inklings come to you via the work done by your RAS and your subconscious mind.
You might, for instance, have noticed a few things on an unconscious level of awareness throughout the day. However, these things were very subtle and didn’t quite get your conscious attention. However, these things were certainly there, and may, as a result, come to you as subtle inklings when it comes time to make a decision. As such you must always be vigilant and self-aware. You won’t always pick things up consciously, however, you will get those subtle feelings in your body that will tell you that there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Step 4: Make a Gut Level Decision
It’s now time to make a decision based on your intuition. Remember though, that intuitive thoughts don’t need to make any logical sense. After all, your RAS and subconscious mind could have picked up things that might have no logic behind them. And this is because you simply don’t yet have all the pieces of the puzzle in place. However, this doesn’t mean that the decision you are about to make isn’t the right decision to make. After all, these pieces of the puzzle will come together over time, and what started out as a reckless decision might not seem so reckless once the puzzle is complete.
Intuitive Self-Sabotage Patterns
At times an intuitive thought or feeling is not necessary “intuitive”, but rather comes from your rational understanding of the situation. In such instances it’s based on the facts you have collected and on assumptions, you have made. And as we all know, assumptions are only opinions and perspectives we have about things. They might have absolutely no basis in reality, and therefore might lead you astray.
Along the same lines, your emotions might also get in the way of your intuitive thoughts and feelings. In such instances, you make decisions based on your emotional experiences, which often mask the reality of the situation. Emotions such as fear, stress, anxiety, anger, overwhelm, and frustration will put you in an altered state-of-mind that drastically interferes with the decision-making process. These emotions will cloud your judgment and prevent you from unlocking the insights that your RAS and subconscious bring to mind.
Whenever you experience a negative emotion, you are at that moment focusing on the things you don’t want. Therefore instead of focusing on solutions and the desired outcomes you would like to realize, you are instead absorbing all your thoughts and attention on worrying about your problems. This, of course, directs your RAS on what’s not working for you, and it will, therefore, go to work to try and find other things that are also not working for you. This snowballs when your subconscious gets into the mix and brings to mind past memories and experiences that accentuate the difficulties of your situation.
In situations such as this, it’s important to step away from your problems. In fact, create some separation between you and your problems to help calm your emotions and refocus yourself on the outcomes you would like to achieve. It is only when your emotions have passed and you are once again focusing on your desired outcomes with a clear mind, can you then begin relying on your intuition to bring you the answers you need to solve your problem. Otherwise, you will of course still be guided by your intuition, however, it won’t be in the direction of your desired intentions. It will instead direct you to things that could very well exacerbate your problems.
Even if down the line you find yourself once again on the right path and focused on the things that will help you solve this problem, you must still be vigilant not to rush the intuitive process. Don’t try to force anything. Things will come in their own time and in their own way. And if no major insights come to you in the moment of decision, then that’s okay. In such instances go with your intellect and make a rational decision based on the facts of the situation. However, just make sure that you are not making any assumptions or jumping to quick conclusions about how things should be. Only by questioning these conclusions and assumptions will you put yourself in a position to make the most optimal decision moving forward.
Finally, during moments of decision, it’s also easy to be led astray by other people’s perspectives and opinions. In fact, at times other people’s opinions can cloud your intuitive thoughts and feelings. This becomes especially relevant when the opinions you are considering come from people you respect and admire. In such instances, it’s important that you keep an open mind about the decision you are about to make. Take people’s opinions into consideration, however, make up your own mind about the situation. Then, in the end, do what feels good, is good for you, is good for others, and serves the greater good. That is probably the best way I know of to follow your intuition.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 3 Ways to Develop Your Intuition @ Huffington Post
- 4 Techniques Guaranteed to Strengthen Your Intuition @ Inc.
- 7 Tips to Strengthen Your Intuition and Take Soul-Inspired Action @ Jack Canfield
- 10 Things Highly Intuitive People do Different @ Creativity Post
- 18 Ways to Strengthen Your Intuition @ Mind Body Green
- Here’s a Quick Way to Develop Your Intuition @ Psychology Today
- Intuition vs. Ego @ Steve Pavlina
- The Repercussions of Ignoring Your Gut Instinct @ A Daring Adventure
- The Reticular Activating System @ Buzzle
- The Science Behind Intuition and Why You Should Trust Your Gut @ Psychology Today
- The Science of Intuition: A Guide to Your Sixth Sense @ Oprah
- The Science of Intuition: How to Measure Hunches and Gut Feelings @ Live Science
- Understanding Intuition and How the Mind Works @ Psychology Today