Lessons in Listening. How Action Strengthens your Intuition Muscle.

Just like lifting weights helps you train your muscles so that they grow stronger, action is required to help you strengthen the relationship of trust between you and your intuition. 

Earlier this week I posted a little story on facebook and instagram about an important life lesson that had recently unfolded for me, and the loud and clear messages I received to remind me that if I listen to my intuition, everything will work out just fine… eventually!

Since then I’ve had so many people comment to me ‘I read your post, that’s so crazy!’ or ‘That’s amazing about Bali’, so I thought I would elaborate a little about the magical, mysterious inner wisdom of intuition and how you can connect to it and – more importantly – respond to it in healthy ways that nurture it to grow stronger.

Intuition 101 – what is it?

‘You’ve had the power all along my dear…’

Paraphrasing Glinda the Good Witch, from The Wizard of Oz.

(You can find the whole quote below or even better, watch it here.)

So what is your intuition? It’s not all woo-woo, fluffy stuff. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ve probably had times when you’ve had a feeling in the pit of your gut when faced with certain bigs decisions, or you just KNEW something was going to happen, or maybe you experienced a voice loud and clear as if from nowhere in the back of your mind, or the swell of your heart with a deep sense of joy as you experience or think about something which really inspires you. These are all signs that your intuition is communicating with you.

The dictionary definition of intuition is ‘the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning’. It comes from the latin word ‘intuir’ which means ‘knowledge from within’.

Call it what you want to call it – survival instinct, 6th sense, gut feeling, a hunch, second sight, premonition or ESP – we’ve all got it, one way or another. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we are constantly unconsciously guided by our natural instincts. As humans we are lucky enough to be able to take some responsibility for whether or not we respond positively to the messages of our intuition (and reap the rewards) or stuff them down and act against them (and suffer the consequences!).

What exactly is intuition? Well that depends on who you talk to!

There’s heaps of fantastic research coming out as science continues to catch up with what ancient wisdom has come to understand through experience for aeons. Some recent scientific research acknowledges our gut as the ‘second brain’, other research tracks pleasure chemicals like dopamine and their neuronal receptors in response to changes in energy signals too subtle to consciously detect, and yet other research tracks the activity of the sensitive right brain, that is constantly filtering what’s best for us whilst your logical left brain is busy ‘working’ on making decisions.

Yogis associate intuition with the 6th chakra; ‘Ajna’ in Sanskrit and often referred to as the ‘third eye’ in English. Scientifically some research has linked the 6th chakra to the pineal gland, a light-sensitive endocrine gland in the brain (hence the name 3rd ‘eye’) that produces melatonin (a vital hormone for sleep regulation) and sits directly in between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Throughout history, philosophers from a range of different traditions have called the pineal glad the ‘seat of the soul’, due to its position at the centre of the two hemispheres of the brain believing that it acts as a bridge between intellect (mind = thinking) and intuition (body = feeling), and in some cases a connection to higher consciousness.

So whether you think that your intuition is your primal survival instinct, your high-speed cognitive powerhouse, your inner wisdom, or your guardian angel there are ways to tap into the messages you’re receiving and most importantly take positive action to affirm them to keep your communication channels with your intuition working loud, clear and strong.

Who’s Clair?

Most people have heard the word clairvoyant… or maybe even gone to consult one at times of challenge or for fun. But do you know what clairvoyant actually means?!

In intuition 101, the ‘Clairs’ relate to the different ways in which we can perceive subtle messages and signals from our intuition. Similar to learning styles (visual, kinaesthetic, auditory), the Clairs are all linked to senses that we use in conscious ways – vision, hearing, taste, smell and feeling (or touch) but we pick up signals outside of the regular channels of sensation – that’s why they’re known as extra-sensory perceptions (ESP).

Which Clair are you?!

Clairvoyant means ‘clear sight’ in French and refers to the ability to be able to perceive signals outside of the realm of our conscious sense of sight. If you tend to ‘see’ or ‘get a vision’ of something before it happens, this may be your predominant mode of connecting with your intuition.

Clairsentience means to ‘feel clearly’. It is the ability to receive knowledge through feeling. If you’re someone who always knows when your gut is telling you something, this might be the conduit for you to commune with your intuition.

Clairaudeince means to ‘clear hearing’. If you hear voices, you may be right…or you may be crazy – just kidding! But that little voice could be your internal guide handing you the secrets to life! Listen in!

Claircognizence means ‘clear knowledge’. It is that feeling that you know something to be true, even without external reference or being able to explain how you know it, you just know. If this is your predominant form of connection with your intuition, you’ll know it, haha.

There are also said to be ‘Clairs’ who can receive signals from their senses of taste (clairgustance) and smell (clairolfactance)…if this is you, lucky you! What a wonderfully tasteful and senstive way to experience your extra-perceptual world!

How to flex your intuition muscles.

When you read the Clairs, is there one that immediately resonates with you? If there is – stick with it! That’s the first step in acknowledging your intuitive powers. If not, all is not lost! There are plenty of ways that you can take time to notice your instinctive responses and start taking actions that affirm your internal compass’ directions.

Intuition and decision-making.

Intuition often starts sending us signals when we’ve got a big decision to face or are contemplating change in our lives. Sometimes the messages come loud and clear – but are too damn scary to listen to or take action on! Other times, we are so caught up in our logical minds trying to reason our way to the ‘right’ choice, that there’s too much noise for us to even feel/see/hear what our intuition has to say.

In the first instance, if you’re faced with an inevitable, clear and resounding signal from your intuition that it’s time for change (think: I have to quit my job and pursue my dream, or I have to leave this relationship…) drastic action isn’t always needed to affirm that you’ve heard it loud and clear. Baby steps are still progress and a much safer and gentler way to create a new life.

Taking the job change scenario as an example, if you’re keen for a change what small steps can you action to physically start bringing your idea to life? It might be as small as admitting to your partner or BFF that you’re going to change careers. If it’s a path that requires retraining, when’s the next university or college open day? You’d better be there to connect with people that share your passion. If you’re staying in the same market, when as the last time you updated your resume? Can’t bear the thought of even looking at it? Send it to a professional for their advice, talk to recruiting companies and sign up to receive relevant job adverts from your dream employers…you gotta be in it to win it, right?

If even any of that seems like too much, starting with journaling (if you’re a writer) or talking it out with a trusted confidante (if you’re a rebounder – someone who needs to bounce ideas off others) can help you clarify your immediate needs, hearts desires and plans of action. If you’re visual, you can then create a vision-board for it. All simple action-oriented steps that affirm to your intuition that you’ve noticed it’s signals and are heeding it’s calling.

If you know you need a change but you don’t really know to what, your feelings will be a great guide as to what will light up your life. What activities make you feel alive? What gives you a deep sense of satisfaction? Ask the five people who know you best and whose opinion you trust what your best traits, qualities and strengths are. Sometimes even with finely honed intution, we need a little outside assistance to really acknowledge our own light.

Think you might wanna be something else when you grow up but too afraid to take the leap? Take a short course or ask for work experience or a part time job in your perceived dream career. I don’t know how many times I’ve strived for a dream job only to get there and be bored to tears by the day-to-day monotony of something that had a prestigious job title. Not everything is as it seems and time invested in research and direct experience early could help you clarify your imaginings from reality.

Title fight: Heart vs. Mind.

‘My mind’s just put on boxing gloves, my heart’s refused to fight it.’

Darren Hanlon

In the second example where your monkey mind is running rife either with insane negatory chatter or you just can’t reason yourself to ‘right’, it’s time for all-hands-on-deck meditation stations to quiet your internal critic and give the small voice of your internal guide some space back in between your thought freight train!

The best meditations for hyper-busy, overly angsty or just plain stuck minds are guided meditations in my opinion. Once you’ve come back from the edge of the anxious/stressy/too many tabs open in your brain cliff with guided meditation, you can transition to self-guided mindfulness exercises.

Expecting a hyper-stimulated mind to switch of for 10 minutes to ‘allow your thoughts to float like clouds across the sky’ is just setting yourself up for failure, which will just fuel the already inflamed fire of your self-flagellation. Eventually focussing on your third eye chakra in meditation may help ignite your connection to your intuition.

All thoughts create emotional responses in our bodies and when we’re caught up in black and white, life or death, yes or no decision making our mental stress levels go up and start feeding a murky internal soup of adrenalin-fuelled anxiety which can lead in the long term to a compromised immune system and burnout.

In this scenario, it’s important to know that some decisions aren’t forever choices, and if you decide on option A but after a time it just doesn’t feel right, then maybe it’s time to explore option B, C or D instead. Generally you’ll find that once you’ve committed to a course of action, that the universe will fall into line to support you in that decision if it’s in service of your highest potential. When doors start opening and ‘coincidences’ keep happening you know you’ve hit your flowstate and are being rewarded for taking action that’s aligned to your intuition.

Follow the signs for serendipity and success.

‘It’s always best to start at the beginning, all you do is follow the yellow brick road’

Glinda the Good Witch (again… she’s like my patron witch of intuition!).

Sometimes, intuition doesn’t just communicate with us just from the inside. Occasionally we’ll receive signs and signals from the outside world that are like giant billboards from the universe! Keeping an open heart and mind to signals, omens and synchronistic signs in your daily life is a great way to reaffirm what your internal messengers might be telling you. Follow the signs and just like Dorothy on the yellow brick road you’ll be led towards exactly what you need to know.

What a feeling!

Remember, feelings are the language of the body and your intuition will communicate with you through your senses. Practices like yoga, meditation, tai chi, qi gong, flashdancing or time spent in nature are all fabulously grounding ways to get back in your body and out of your intellect and mind.

Practice makes perfect and action builds intuitive muscle power! So practice listening/feeling/seeing/acknowledging inward and then take outward action in the world for a failsafe recipe for intuitive success!

Phew – well that was lots of information wasn’t it?!

I’ve been planning on running a mini ‘play’shop (because really, who wants to ‘work’ on weekends?) called Intuition 101 for about two years now but for whatever reason the time just hasn’t been right. It seems like intuition is coming up again quite strongly as a theme that I need to explore right now and I love to explore by sharing! So if you’d be keen on playing with connection to your intuition with me please do drop me a line and let me know! I could host a private session for you and your friends in September or run a public event if there’s enough interest.

Wishing you love, light and alignment with your intuition!

Ramone

And just in case you need more Wizard of Oz after TED talks, The Breakfast Club, Flashdance and Darren Hanlon, (click the underlined hyperlinks for hijinks) you can watch the below exerpt here.

GlindatheGoodDorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I—I think that it, that it wasn’t enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em — and it’s that — if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look
any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?
Glinda: That’s all it is!
Scarecrow: But that’s so easy! I should’ve thought of it for you –
Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart –
Glinda: No, she had to find it out for herself. Now those magic slippers will take you home in two seconds!

If you follow your heart, your intuition will always lead you home! Namaste!

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