Intuition is our most powerful guide, yet most of us don’t know how to access it. When I speak of intuition I’m talking about knowing things that seem impossible to know or making the right decisions without having to think about them. If you have experienced any of the following, you have experienced the power of your intuition: (1) meeting someone and somehow knowing exactly what is going on in their personal life without them telling you; (2) feeling the presence of another person even though you have no way of knowing that they are nearby (and then perhaps turning to look in a direction and seeing them); or (3) sensing the death or injury of a loved one from miles away. Our minds are able to pick up on subtle energetic shifts but the messages we received are subtle and usually ignored. Tuning into those subtle messages is what being intuitive is all about.
Cultivating intuition is just like any other skill–it takes work. Most of us are raised to rely on our thinking minds, which solve problems logically, make plans, and suppress our emotions in order to achieve our goals. Few of us were raised to let go of our plans and flow with the tide or to make life decisions based upon gut feelings. Therefore, most of us have simply suppressed our intuition and have never sought to cultivate it. The problem with that mode of living is that a lifetime of thinking without paying attention to your intuition can lead you far astray of the path that would make you happiest.
Step 1: Find Silence
In these days of social media it is sometimes hard to turn off the external stimulation during our waking ours and intuition requires just that. We need silence in the mind and space for the thoughts to bubble up freely without interference. This is my number one challenge these days in terms of intuition and I suspect others face the same challenge. Therefore, it’s super important to turn off devices and reconnect with yourself. Whether that is through meditation, hiking in nature, practicing some form of breath initiated movement like yoga, or simply sitting in quiet, it’s an essential practice that enables you to actually hear yourself. Even tougher is making this practice a regular part of your life–and by regular I mean daily or at least several times a week. Unless you can shut off the white noise, those subtle signals from your intuition will be drowned out and you will miss them.
For me, this means limiting my information intake. I have not read a newspaper or news website or watched the news in years. I don’t watch TV, but for the rare occasions when I visit family and sit through a program they are watching. The less information I take in from these distracting sources the more information I can received from within.
Step 2: Develop a Practice
When I started meditating, practicing yoga, and living a healthier lifestyle in my late 20s, I instantly started to have experiences where I predicted an event before it happened or somehow knew something that I had no way of logically knowing. After this happened a few times, I decided to run with it and test it out with a few decisions based on my feelings, even if they did not seem logically to be the right decisions. Each time I went with my gut there was a little bit of fear when the decision was not part of my “plan” or seemed to be the “wrong” decision to others. But amazingly, a few times early on in my experiment with intuition, I found myself moving in directions that ultimately felt fulfilling and eventually came to be the “right” decisions. I had many moments in my early days of training intuition where I would think of a person and then instantly receive a call from them or bump into them. This started to happen with such frequency that I could predict running into someone. This type if intuition was only possible because I had found enough silence to hear my own subconscious thoughts.
The best practices I have found for training the mind to listen are yoga and meditation, though there are others. Yoga is such an amazing practice because it links breath and movement with meditation. Thus, not only are you connecting with the mind and emotions internally, you are bringing breath (and prana) into the body and opening up energy channels. When our energy channels are open and energy can move freely, intuition is inevitably going to be visible and powerful.
Step 3: Trust Your Dreams
Recently, I have noticed that because my days are a little busier with fewer times to find the stillness I need, my dreams have become more and more vivid. Interestingly, dreams can be just as powerful vehicles for intuition if you understand how to use them. My current dreams have involved a particular person from my past returning to live in my current city. Interestingly, I am now comfortable enough trusting my dreams and intuition to know that this person is either back or has made the decision to be back. Years ago I would have just written off the dreams as imagination, but I intuitively know it’s true now and can trust my feelings. Therefore, I will not be surprised when I run into this person randomly, which is bound to happen.
Therefore, look deeply at the types of dreams you are having and who shows up. Dreams are not often literal, but if you are having powerful and vivid dreams about someone, it’s worth trusting the feelings associated with such dreams. I used to write down my dreams so that I could remember them and later analyze them and this an ideal practice. But, you may eventually get to the point where you don’t even need to analyze them and can instantly interpret them.
Step 4: Learn to Act Upon Your Intuition
This is probably the most difficult skill to hone because it will feel like you are jumping out of an airplane with no parachute. You have to trust that the parachute is on your back even though you don’t believe it is and just take the leap. I remember the first few intuitive decisions I acted upon were scary. I worried about what other people might think of my seemingly bizarre behavior that bore little resemblance to the once formulaic behavior I previously exhibited. The amazing thing is that once your decisions to act start to pan out for you, everyone will wonder where you got your idea and they will start to emulate you. This can be an amazing way of becoming a leader in whatever you do since you will no longer be following the herd.
Step 5: Be Fearless
Here’s the thing: there is really no harm in trying when it comes to most things in our lives. Most of the decisions and actions we take are not irreversible so if it doesn’t pan out you can simply go back to whatever you were doing or thinking before. But, I suspect things will pan out if you take the leap and trust your gut. Listen to that feeling of anxiety you have about a person or trust that nagging feeling that you should be doing something else with your life. When you have a dream about a person, call them and connect. And most importantly, don’t ignore your feelings; they are trying to tell you something. If you find yourself having thoughts and emotions about a decision, take a piece of paper out and write down all of the things you are scared of might happen if you act in the way your gut is telling you. Sometimes putting the fears down makes them look insignificant and might give you the confidence you need to act from your intuition. Trust the process and see for yourself.