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Over 20 years ago, a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon and researcher named Norman Shealy was introduced to a young woman with a special gift: She could see illness in other people with only her intuition to guide her. After extensive testing, Dr. Shealy concluded that her ability to diagnose illness even from remote distances was 93 percent ...
"What, besides intuition, can a person rely on in order to transform themselves from solely ego-driven to something that is more soul-driven? There are several, but by far intuition is the Golden Fuse."
—Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD
Can intuition be developed? Or is it a gift that only some of us are born with? If it can in fact be cultivated, how would I go about doing so? Why would I want to be more intuitive? What are the benefits? How do I distinguish between the voice of intuition and the habitual chatter of the mind? Is being intuitive the same as being psychic? These are the many questions that we will be exploring in this Intuitive Development channel.
Intuition refers to the direct and immediate apprehension of information, insight, or knowledge without the use of the processes of the conscious, rational mind, such as thinking, reasoning, and evaluating. The word "intuition" is derived from the Latin word intueri, often translated as "to look inside." Intuition is a reliable inner resource that each of us has access to. By learning how to trust our inner guidance, we are better able to make decisions, enjoy relationships with others, deepen our awareness, love those around us, and contribute to a transformed world. Not only can our intuition help us with day-to-day decisions such as which route we should take to the office, what car we should buy, or what foods would be best to eat, it allows us to access a greater field of intelligence that catalyzes our inner journey at the deepest levels.
Intuition is often associated with spiritual development as it puts us in touch with a higher form of knowing than the logical, mechanistic processes of the brain and thinking mind. It is thus believed that as we evolve spiritually, our intuition naturally blossoms. In fact, traditional spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation are some of the most direct ways to organically develop our intuition. The quieter we become and the less identified we are with the movement of the thinking mind, the more naturally in tune we are with ourselves, others, and the environment around us.
Please refer to the "What Are The Benefits?" section
Is being intuitive the same thing as being psychic? If I develop my intuition, will I automatically become clairvoyant or be able to see the future? Are psychics just people who have developed their intuition to deeply profound levels? Can anyone learn to be more intuitive? Can anyone become a psychic?
Clearly, there is some overlap between these areas, and the two terms themselves are often used interchangeably. Historically, however, the word "psychic" has come to have all sorts of metaphysical and occult associations and conjures up images of crystal balls, séances to speak with the dead, and 1-900 hotlines. But if what is meant by these terms is a direct access to a field of information and guidance beyond the limited sense of self and the habitual identification with the conditioned mind, then perhaps there is not so much difference.
This being said, developing your intuition does not necessarily make your more "psychic" in the sense that you know something is going to happen before it does or that you know who is on the phone when it rings. Being intuitive, the way we are using the term, refers to an inner awareness, an inner sense that acts as a doorway to information and guidance that allows us to be more present in our lives—open, aware, better able to be who we are, and to be of genuine help to others. We're not necessarily referring here to parlor tricks such as guessing the lotto numbers or predicting the end of the world.
We receive intuitive information and guidance all the time. The question is: are we aware of it? And if we are aware of it, do we trust it? Are we willing and able to respond to it? Often, intuition comes to us in very natural and subtle ways—a feeling in our bodies, a flash of insight, a quick download of information. But what is the difference between intuition when it comes in this way and the more habitual thought patterns that are always somewhat humming in the background?
How do we know when we are receiving true intuitive information versus more habitual and conditioned streams of thought? How do we discern this subtle flow of intelligence from the thousands of thoughts, feelings, and sensations that we have each and every day? The short answer is: it takes practice (and intuition!). Learning to distinguish genuine insight from fear-based and conditioned thought and feeling-states requires real discernment and an unwavering commitment to truth.
One very direct way to discern true intuition is through confirmation of what we have sensed or received. For example, during a meeting with a potential new business partner, you have a strong sensation in your stomach that this is not the right person to go into business with. Later that day, you learn that this person was convicted of embezzlement some years ago.
Or you are looking for a new home, and as you enter the front door of one of your leading candidates you are filled with a warm sense of joy throughout your body. You find yourself at peace for no external reason. You follow this inner sensation, rent or purchase the home, and enjoy it immensely for many years to come.
Can intuitive abilities be developed/cultivated or are they inborn, a gift given only to certain people? Many of us are aware of powerful and well-known intuitives such as Edgar Cayce and Caroline Myss. Is it possible that our own intuition could function at such a level?
Interestingly, in both Cayce's and Myss's view, the answer is a resounding yes. Myss is clear that intuition is not a gift, but rather a skill—and a hard-earned one at that. Many leaders is the field of intuition state unequivocally that each of us can expand our intuitive capacities, like any other of our physical or mental capabilities, with training, practice, intention, and commitment. Many of the great intuitives emphasize the importance of learning to trust yourself. In fact, Myss believes increasing intuitive ability is directly correlated to one's own sense of self-esteem. It takes practice and commitment to trust and act upon our own intuitive insights.
At the same time, can everyone become a professional intuitive who radically transforms the lives of millions with their powerful abilities? No. Each of us has our own calling in this life—some will manifest their intuitive skills in ways that are far-reaching, while others are called in a different direction. The truth, though, is that each of us can increase our ability to tune in to our own inner guidance, trust what we receive, and use our intuition to create a better life for ourselves and those around us.
In order to allow our intuition to flower, many of us have to learn a new relationship with life—with our bodies, minds, hearts, and environment. Most of us are deeply conditioned to relate to life through the flow of thought in the mind; in fact, our human species is identified with the mind to such a deep level that many are unaware of the difference between the movement of the mind and reality itself. It requires a clear commitment, the willingness to open to the unknown, and a deep passion for knowing what is true.
Additionally, we must be able to respond clearly to the many different and even conflicting voices inside us. As we set aside the rational mind and move into deeper levels of knowing, we will likely experience states of confusion and fear. We must be prepared to experience these fully, without turning from them, to penetrate the seeds of wisdom they contain.
One of the main obstacles we must face in our development of intuition is the limiting of information we are able to receive to what we want to hear, what we desire or "think" is best, or that which fits neatly into our limited, conditioned views of reality.
1. Prayer and meditation. Studies over the last few decades show a strong correlation between meditation and the development of intuitive abilities. Through meditation practice, we learn to distinguish between old patterns of thought and fresh insight. Meditation can help us to synchronize body and mind, thus allowing a free flow of intelligence throughout the entire organism.
Scientists have learned that the regular practice of meditation creates better communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which may allow for more direct access to the creativity and insight thought to be housed in the right hemisphere.
By cutting our identification with the thinking mind as our primary means of interacting with our bodies and the environment, meditation naturally opens us to receive higher-level cognition, insight, and guidance—not limited to the confines of the individual, separate self-sense.
In a similar manner to meditation, a regular prayer practice allows us to quiet our thinking minds and open to a more subtle flow of intelligence and presence. Much research has been conducted showing the benefits of prayer to relax the body, calm the mind, and connect those in prayer to deeper levels of awareness and brain activity and to states of profound peace, love, and oneness. These states are conducive to receiving intuitive guidance as they offer a doorway beyond the rational mind and into the transpersonal.
See Sounds True's Meditation channel for free exercises and teachings on meditation and how to start your own meditation practice.
2. Working with the chakras. The chakras are energy centers located in the subtle body and are responsible for the quality of our life experience. When the chakras are "balanced," "tuned," and "open," we are able to experience reality as it is. In such an open and balanced state, we more naturally receive intuitive guidance and direction.
An exercise to discover your intuitive gifts through the chakras here »
3. Dreamwork. Becoming aware of one's inner dream life is a centuries-old practice used cross-culturally and throughout all of the great wisdom traditions and indigenous spiritual systems. More recently, through the teachings of depth and transpersonal psychology, various schools of dreamwork have emerged that allow direct access to intuitive insights and guidance. The dream itself is said to be a storehouse of intuition, and the more attention we can give to our dream lives, the more our own intuition can flower.
An exercise in lucid dreaming to cultivate deep levels of inner knowing here »
4. Shamanic techniques. The ancient shamanic systems of exploring the inner worlds appeared long before the teachings and practices of institutionalized religions. These techniques involve the use of rhythmic sound and other tools such as entheogenic plants to enter into what is referred to as nonordinary reality. When in nonordinary reality, or a shamanic state of consciousness, one is naturally connected to intuitive dimensions where information and insight is received and brought back to the community for the benefit of others.
Learn a simple shamanic journeying technique here »
5. Bodywork and other grounding techniques. When we are more grounded, centered, and our awareness is in our physical form rather than in the habitual flow of the mind, we are more naturally connected with our intuitive faculties. Techniques and practices such as the various systems of bodywork, tai chi, qigong, yoga, and breathwork help us to return our attention to the present moment, to what is happening now, in the physical body. Even a simple walk in nature can reconnect us to the flow of intelligence in the body, what modern-day mystic Eckhart Tolle refers to as "the inner body"—a doorway into presence and intuitive guidance.
6. Various forms of experiential therapies. From Gestalt to EMDR to art, play, music, or sandbox therapies, opening to the unconscious and unprocessed material in our bodies and minds naturally opens us to the flow of intuition. As we become better able to experience reality, not from our past charges and conditioning, but fresh in the moment, free of all unconscious influence, intuitive insight dawns organically in our lives.
7. Writing (automatic and journaling). Automatic writing is a process of bypassing the rational thinking mind and using the tools of pen and paper (or computer keyboard) to access deep levels of your being. You can simply begin writing with no particular focus, or begin your session with a question as to specific guidance you are looking for.
The practice of journaling works in much the same way. As you begin to write, if you do not edit what you are writing and do not limit what comes through, you may gradually move through more surface thoughts and feelings into deeper levels of your unconscious, into the pure intuitive realms. Journaling can help you to gain new insights and creative ideas that you can apply to your daily life.
8. Surrendering to the mystery. When all is said and done, you can tune in directly to your intuitive abilities as they are an inherent part of who you are. Let everything go and open yourself to all that you are; allow the intelligence and beauty that is responsible for beating your heart, growing your hair, and hanging the stars in the sky to move through you and reveal directly to you what you need to know.
Each of us experiences the flowering of intuition in our own unique ways. There do appear to be some general categories, however, of the different ways that people experience intuitive insight. Some of the most common ways of experiencing intuition are as follows:
Another way to explore our experience of intuitive insight is through a number of terms that have become somewhat common in modern language and culture. While these terms are often used to describe psychic phenomena of all types and levels of development, they do provide an avenue though which to understand the different ways that intuition is received. We'll take a quick tour of the most common of these terms here:
Are you intuitive? Do you have innate psychic abilities? Try the following online experiments, all at no cost, and get a sense of your own intuitive abilities.
Test #1: The Psi Arcade. This test was designed by the Institute of Noetic Sciences and includes the Garden of Dreams game as well as several intuitive games in the “Halls of Healing.” To access these games now, please see www.psiarcade.com/main.html.
Test #2: Tests in retropsychokinesis. According to Fourmilab Switzerland, retropsychokinesis is the ability of certain subjects to alter random data generated, but not examined, prior to the time the data are presented to the subject. To participate in these free, online tests, please see www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/experiments.
Test #3: Tests in intuition from the Boundary Institute. Many people have had precognitive dreams and successful intuitive hunches and would like to know if they have psychic abilities. Try some of the following informal tests of “Psi” functioning that are based on the same techniques used in more formal laboratory experiments. To explore these tests, please see www.gotpsi.org/html/gotpsi.htm.
Test #4: Try this genuine experiment researching ESP conducted by Michael Daniels, PhD, (Liverpool John Moores University) and Matthew Smith, PhD, (Liverpool Hope University). They are testing the theory that ESP is more likely to occur when there is greater uncertainty about a situation. Give their test a try here: www.mdani.demon.co.uk/para/psiquiz.htm.
Test #5: The Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute has designed a simple experiment using a dice game to test your ability to predict the next throw of the dice. Given that this is randomly distributed, it could be argued that if you score significantly outside the normal range you would be testing your abilities of anomalous experience. To try this experiment, please see www.pni.org/esp/dice.
Test #6: You may have already had some psychic experiences that you would like explained to you; you may have even been told that you have a gift. Find out now with the following psychic test: www.psychiccourses.com/psychic-resources/psychic-test.php.
Test #7: Are you psychic? Do you have psychic powers? Here’s a classic test to find out. You will be tested on the cards 10 times to see how well you do at predicting which will come up. Be sure to do all 10 rounds to get a true estimation of your psychic abilities. This version of the psychic test uses symbols, one of the classic forms of the psychic test. Click here to begin: www.bellaonline.com/code/psychic.
Test #8: Choose your replies from this simple sixth sense questionnaire to find out if you have telepathy and ESP abilities or psychic personality traits. The Psychic IQ Test is taken from The Psychic Handbook by Craig Hamilton-Parker: www.psychics.co.uk/psychictests/psychiciq.html.
Test #9: How developed are your intuitive and psychic abilities? Choose from a number of tests to find out: www.psychicguild.com/esptest.
Test #10: Want to know if you’re a psychic? The following tests will give you a glimpse into your own innate abilities. To access these tests, please see www.psychic.com.au/psychic_test.htm.