Intuition is that little voice that tells us things that we wouldn’t normally know. Sometimes it leads to great transformation, sometimes it means I make my train. Either way I am better off listening to my intuition than I am ignoring it. Here’s why you will be too.
I usually get 4 questions when it comes to learning how to tune into intuition.
- What does that mean, “tune into intuition?”
- Does it really work?
- Do I have to shave my head and become a monk to do this?
- How do I start?
I’ll start with question number 3. No, you don’t need to be a monk, you don’t need to shave your head, nor do you even need to be a vegetarian or vegan. As for question number 2, yes, it really does work, although it requires practice, patience and a willingness to step outside of what is likely your comfort zone.
What does it mean to tune into your intuition? I view intuition as the uplink to the universe. It demonstrates our connection to everyone and everything else. That little voice that speaks up and tells you something is a bad idea, or that turning left instead of right is the better choice. Intuition is our insight into the larger world at a deeper level of consciousness that has fewer prejudged filters in place.
I’ll share an example of one of the uses I have for my own intuition. I drive from my house to the train to commute to work. I drive the same route every day at the same time every day. One day as I am about to get in the lane to turn right, as I always do, I hear myself inside my head saying “go left today.” That was it. Three little words. But I listened, got in the lane to turn left and as I entered the intersection, I saw that there was a massive backup of traffic and if I had gone right, as I always did, I would have been stuck and missed my train. Instead, I heeded those three little words, went left and made my train.
Questions arises suggesting there were some other clues that might have prompted me to turn left. Not really. The traffic was moving fine and even the first few cars to turn right seemed like they were going to move as normal. There were no sirens, nothing on the radio, a normal day. Just that little voice in my head. To further reinforce it, I don’t like going left because it means I have to later turn left onto a two way main road that feeds the train station. And that is never a pleasant nor expeditious route so I take great care to avoid that route.
As for how to start tuning in, that’s the easy and hard part. All you have to do is listen. Quiet your chatty conscious mind and let the signals be heard. I say it’s both the easiest and most challenging because it sounds simple enough; quiet your mind. However that is one of the most challenging thing for us to do.
To help start you off, I have a few exercises to help get you going.
Exercise 1: Get comfortable with your own mind
In today’s world of digi-distraction and the constant bombardment of visual and auditory stimuli, it’s very easy to avoid the tough questions and the fears that we collect in life. But the first step to being able to hear your intuition is clearing out this clutter. And the only way to clear it out is to face it.
To do this, I like long runs by myself with no electronics. My mind flits from thought to thought for a bit but it eventually gets bored. And when the mind gets bored, that is when all the nasty stuff starts bubbling up. Doubts, fears, limiting thoughts all undercutting our confidence and goals. But this is only a distraction technique. It isn’t real and once you can face these thoughts without retreating, you begin to silence them. Once you start quieting those negative thoughts, you make room for your intuition to be heard.
Exercise 2: Count your breaths
This one is deceptively more challenging than it appears. The concept is simple. Sit or lay comfortably and count your breaths. One to twenty-one. When you get to twenty-one, start over again at one. If you lose count, simply start again at one. Once you can make it through this exercise for at least 5 minutes (set a timer so you don’t have to worry about tracking that too) without losing track or chasing random thoughts and having to start over, you will have built your concentration skills up enough to begin the third exercise, learning to listen.
Exercise 3: Learn to listen
If you’ve gone through the other two exercises, this one will be much easier than attempting it without them. When I describe the thoughts in my head, I think of them in terms of quality of thought. There are the garbage thoughts such as anything negative about myself or others, the whiney thoughts such as my muscles are tight don’t go for a run or the distracting thoughts such as I bet I can get the next level of Game X if I started right now.
Next come the medium thoughts such as I’m hungry, did I leave the stove on when I left the house or wow, I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on. While not detrimental, they are still distractions.
At the top are the high quality thoughts. These are the ones that are insightful, helpful, positive, and show me options to challenges I otherwise might not have come up with. This is where intuition lies.
Whether you like to sit at home, in nature or add this on to a meditation practice, sitting quietly and listening to your thoughts will move you in the direction of telling your thoughts apart. This exercise of just sitting with your thoughts allows you to listen to everything that is going on in your head and enables you to identify the higher quality thoughts from the lesser ones. This in turn allows for you to identify them in the midst of daily chaos when they come up again.
Going through the first two exercises taught you to quiet your mind and built your level of concentration so that you could start sorting the garbage thoughts from the rest. I was surprised to find so much extra room in my head when I started dumping the garbage thoughts. It was like driving around with your windshield completely dirty and then suddenly it’s clean and you can see where you are going.
It will likely take a little time to adjust to the “clean windshield” you’re developing. Something pops into your head and you question it or second guess it. I recommend taking note of those times, what the thought or direction was and what you did, with a note about how it turned out. It’s been my experience that in hindsight, those odd thoughts were some really good recommendations. You won’t always take them, and that’s fine. As you track your thoughts, you’ll learn to trust this new insight more.