How To Start Listening To Your Intuition – The Absolute Begginer’s Guide

How to listen to your intuition

If you’re reading this you should already have an idea about what intuition is and isn’t and have some understanding on how it works backed by science.

If you haven’t read these posts yet, go read them and come back after.

If you did, let’s continue. Since you are aware of the benefits of understanding how intuition works and how it can help you live a more harmonious, joyous life we can start doing stuff to create this.

So let’s get to the nitty gritty of how to actually do something every day to start tuning in with your inner voice. 

I’ve been testing and experiencing many ways to do this, either on myself or with my clients. In this post I’ll give you the absolute beginner’s steps so you can start doing this right after you’ve finished reading this. 

Step 1 – How To Start Listening To Your Intuition Through Your Sensations & Emotions

For this exercise you need to grab a pen and paper and block 5 to 10 minutes of private time. This means turn off your cell phone and make sure you’ll not be disturbed for the next 10 minutes. 

Ready?

Good. Now breath in deeply, exhale slowly and fully and think of 3 situations from your past experiences when

  • you felt in tune with the flow of life,
  • when everything seemed to be happening at the right time,
  • and you were in the right place, meeting the right people. 

You know that feeling, when you felt like all the stars were aligned in your favour. 

These 3 situations can be simple moments when you were alone in nature or with someone you loved, or when you’ve experienced some kind of success: your college graduation, your first promotion at your job…it can be anything that you consider small or big, it doesn’t really matter. 

The exercise consists of thinking about and then describing in writing the following:

1 The specific situation, in brief. Focus on answering shortly to when? what? with whom? where?

2 The sensations in your body. For this you might need to let yourself be immersed again in that situation, that’s why it’s good to allow yourself a few minutes.

Scan your solar plexus, your tummy, your entire body, your feet, your shoulders, and write down specific sensations.

They might be or not similar to: “my solar plexus feels warm and expanding”, “my feet are grounded”, “I have a smile on my face”, “my back is straight” or “I have a warm, fuzzy feeling in my whole body”.

Each person is unique and has her own signals, make sure you identify yours.

3 The emotions and feelings you were experiencing: relaxation, peace, calm, joy, determination, feeling energised and so on. These are the most common, you might experience different ones. There is no right or wrong here.

4 The thoughts you had about yourself and the world. You might have had thoughts like: “I can do anything I set my mind to”, “We are all one”, “The world is a wonderful place to live in”, “All is well” and so on.

It’s important to identify your view of the world while being in tune with your intuition. 

Hand writing connects you better with your subconscious mind and that is why it’s better to do this the old school way.

After you finish this exercise the end result will be a piece of paper that will contain the basic reference points, specific to You, when you are in tune with your inner guidance system.

This piece of paper can and should be further developed and refined as you become more aware of your intuition. 

The next exercise will help you do just this throughout your daily activities, without the need to block out 10-15 minutes. 

Step 2: Ask Yourself 3 Times a Day “How do I feel?” 

For the next week, put a reminder on your phone to ring 3 times a day.

Every time it rings ask yourself: “How do I feel now?” or “How does my body feel? What do I need?” and write a short answer in a notebook or on a note taking app on your phone.

It will take you only a few seconds or one minute to do this, so it won’t affect your productivity. You might think this tiny exercise can’t do much for you, but trust me, after one week you’ll start seeing some benefits.

Becoming aware of how you feel, of what your body feels like or needs in various moments of your day, will help you have a bigger picture of your state of awerness and contact with your intuition. 

Observing without judging where you are, how you feel, brings you back to yourself regardless of how busy your life is. 

After doing this second exercise for one week you can come back to the sheet of paper you wrote during the first step and add some new sensations, emotions or thoughts if you have them. 

So that’s it for now, I’ll be back in one week with 2 new steps that you can add to your daily practice in order to become a better intuitive. 

Let me know how this was for you in the comments bellow, I would love to hear from you.

All my love, 

Raluca

How Intuition Works – Backed by Science – The Other Two Brains In Your Body

How intuition works - backed by science

Steve Jobs gave a touching speech at the 2005 Standford commencement ceremony in which he said “Don’t let the voice of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

The immediate question that comes to mind is: OK, I want to do this. But how?

How do you hear “your inner voice,” that your heart and intuition somehow already know?

Your best friend on this issue is your own body. You need to rely on your bodily signals when you want to listen to your inner voice.

Why is that? In order to find some answers based on the scientific approach we need to dip our toes into a bit of anatomy of the human body, neurology and electromagnetism. 

Don’t run away just yet, I promise to keep things simple. 

How Intuition Works is Related To How Our Body Works

The thing is our brains and bodies are much more complex than we know.

By having a superficial look at how our nervous system is spread throughout our body we can easily see that: our mind is not just a function associated with the grey matter found in our skull. It’s much, much more than that.

Let’s look at how you are able to stay alive while going about your daily chores, without paying any attention to your body. How is that possible? It’s possible because your body is regulated by your autonomic nervous system.

Millions and millions of actions are taking place every second without your conscious awareness in order for your blood to circle, your kidneys to filter, your stomach to digest, your lungs to breath, your heart to beat and so on.

We have neurons not only in our brains, but also around our heart, in our gut and all along our body, spreading from our central nervous system.

Everything in our body is interconnected and regulated mostly through our autonomic nervous system. Autonomic, cause we are not aware of its actions and it goes on either we pay attention to it or not. We breath, pump blood and filter substances continously, either we are awake or asleep.

So, there is a huge pile of data that is stored on an unconscious level in our brain, about the internal activity that goes on in our body and about our environment.

Continuously adjusting, acting and reacting to the internal and external stimuli, our bodies are doing their job so we stay alive.

Thank God for that, imagine if we had to remember to breath, we would have been dead in a few minutes of browsing our newsfeed.

The Other Two Command Centers…Besides Your Brain

Scientific research on our body revelead that we have two other command centers, besides our brain located in the skull.

There are neurons in our intestines and around our heart.

And not just a few, but enough to make scientist call the enteric nervous system the “second brain”.

And studies made by the Hearth Math Institute revelead that the heart has an electromagnetic field 3 to 5 meters wide around, that constantly communicates with other people and our brain.

So based on these two alternative brains,

we might say we have two types of intuition.

One that resides on the gut brain, and that has as a main purpose to protect us from any potential harmful situations.

And one that resides in the heart, who’s drive is to move us forward, to make us expand and grow.

The first is mostly sensitive to fear-based situations, the latter to love and expansion.

Protection and expansion are their key words.

The Gut Brain

Our nervous system brings information from the brain to the various parts of our body and from these parts back to the brain.

That’s how it works. That’s how you circule your blood, you breath, you digest, you replace old and dead cells, you heal, you grow – without any contribution from your conscious mind, it all happens on “auto-pilot”.

So just because the newest part of the brain is not aware of the millions of operations that the older parts of the brain perform every second to keep us alive, it’s not a reason not to listen to its signs.

On the contrary, because this part doesn’t have words and can’t articulate its message in a language that the newer parts understand, we need to learn to decipher its signs and act upon them.

To make this simpler, when you get the sensation of feeling hungry or sleepy, what do you do? You act upon it: you go get some food or some rest if your present situation allows you to do so.

You are not going to say something like: “oh, that hunger sensation, I’m going to ignore it!”

You might, for a while, but in the end, your body will ask its rights otherwise you’ll get into trouble. You can’t survive too long without water, food or sleep.

Now, if the same intelligent system that keeps you alive, sends you messages about other things in your life – like the new person you just met, the job proposal you received, or the food you should eat, why would you ignore it? It doesn’t make sense, right?

This super-intelligent system not only regulates all your bodily functions so you are able to stay alive without ever worrying about beating your heart or filtering and eliminating the toxins from your food or your drugs, but also stores all your memories.

That’s how it learns to protect you in the future from similar dangerous situations that happened in the past. Even if you do not have any conscious recollection of them.

Now, does this mean that you should always and indiscriminately listen to your “gut feeling”?

As in all matters of life, the golden middle line is the best.

Past Trauma & Your Gut Feeling

There are situations when you might have suffered a traumatic event. Let’s say you had a teacher with red hair who punished you in kindergarten and made you feel humiliated.

You might end up as un adult to have an unusual reaction to all red haired women. You might find yourself avoiding any connection with women who resemble with that mean teacher.

But because you’ve forgotten about the teacher, you can’t explain why “you don’t like the red haired women”. You might think that “it’s just the way you are”.

In this case it’s not such a big deal, after all there are many brunettes and blondes, out there, aren’t they?

But there are countless other events that happened to you and that, unless brought into conscious awareness, shape your behaviour and your choices in life without you even knowing it.

Now, if your life is good and you are happy with it, it means you don’t have much digging to do.

But if you don’t like how your life looks now, you might want to start some digging and cleaning up old emotional garbage, before being able to completely trust your inner gut signals.

The Heart Brain

As far as the other type of intuition, the one that comes from the heart, there is an entire area of studies and experiments that have been made around the functions and power of our hearts.

The Hearth Math Institute, founded in 1991, offers many resources based on their scientific research that show without a doubt that there is much more to our hearts than meets the eye.

And that in the cases where we can’t atribute our intuitive abilities to our subconsciously stored memories or to our  unconscious brain processes, another theory might help us understand them: “our body is connected by sensory perception to a field of energy that enfolds the information we atribute to intuition.”

This is a topic that deserves an article or even a series of articles dedicated to it alone. So expect them here in the near future. If you want to be the first to know about them, make sure you sign up to get the updates.

The trick is to listen to both of them and learn to discern more and more what comes from fear and what comes from love. And then choose whatever you think is best for you.

And also remember to consult with your logical brain, it’s an amazing tool that helps you in so many ways. 

All my love,

Raluca

Resources:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/intuition-research/

https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/what-is-intuition/

What Intuition Is Not? How To Make The Difference Between Intuition and The Other Voices In Your Head

The number one question that I get from every person interested in intuitive living is “What is intuition?”. I’ve answered to it in a previous post, you can check it out here if you haven’t read it.

The number two question is “What intuition is Not?” or in other words:

how do I figure out which one is my intuition in the middle of the gazillion other voices that run through my mind.

With intuition, as with any other skill that we want to develop and master, we need to know  the basics:

First, what to look for – as in – what is it?

Second, we need to know what to avoid – as in – what this thing is NOT?

What are the other things that might look like or are similar to intuition, so we don’t get mislead, and find ourselves on the wrong path.

In today’s article you will discover what intuition is not, so by the end you’ll have a clear picture of what the “wrong track” looks like.

The idea is that any time you’ll observe yourself heading for or already being on a non-intuitive path, you’ll able to stop and reconfigure your trajectory.

Just like you would do if that happened while driving your car and your GPS would tell you that you’re heading in the wrong direction.

It’s the same with your intuition. It acts as your internal GPS.

So let’s dive right into how you can make the difference between your intuition and your other tools: instinct, insight, creativity and reason.

The main resource for the theoretical part comes from a study from The British Journal of Psychology (1).

Intuition & Tacit Knowledge

“Intuition draws upon experience and expertise and previous ‘analyses frozen into habit’.

Intuition is an aspect of expertise or tacit knowledge which is drawn upon with varying degrees of automaticity depending upon the interaction of the individual and the context.” (2)

This tacit knowledge, in my opinion, is the sum of all our previous experiences that are stored on an unconscious level.

All our experiences are helping us adapt and adjust to our environment, to survive and to thrive. 

When we become so good at something – like driving a car for example – we are able to drive while having a conversation with someone next to us, or while listening to a podcast, or talking on the phone (using handsfree, of course!).

That is possible because in time, with experience, we’ve managed to transfer all the complex actions needed to drive, from the conscious and slow level, to the unconscious and fast level.

When we listen to our intuition, we listen to the conclusion that our unconscious mind has reached after analysing in a just a few seconds the huge library of the past experiences we cary inside our brains that are relevant to the present situation.

And because that part of our brain doesn’t have access to language it sends us the message in the form of a “feeling”, what we call “gut feeling”.

Intuition & Instinct

Instinct is a “fast, reflexive responses that enable organisms to react to a threat and enhance its possibilities of survival.

Both instinct and intuition may lead to somatic responses to a stimulus; unlike intuition, instinctive reactions are not guided by deep knowledge structures and prior learning and expertise (they are not ‘analyses frozen into habit’)”. (3)

This one is pretty clear: we are all born with instincts.

They are like inbuilt programs in a computer. They are meant to keep us alive in dangerous situation, so they don’t rely on any previous experience. That’s the main difference in between instinct and intuition.

Intuition & Implicit and Explicit learning and knowledge

“Intuitive knowledge may be the end product of implicit learning experience which is stored below the level of conscious awareness.” (4)

This one is very similar to the tacit knowledge one.

Intuition & Insight

Insights are “sudden realisations (‘a eureka’ experience) usually after a period of immersion in a problem and in which an impasse has been reached in its solution (a period of incubation).”

Insight is a sudden moment of enhanced awareness in which a problem solver attains a conscious and clear understanding of the solution to a perplexing problem.

Intuiting on the other hand does not involve conscious and deliberative ‘rational processing’, and intuition is accompanied by a somatic awareness which influences decision choices but the subject may be not consciously aware of the source.” (5)

This one too is pretty obvious: whereas “insight” involves a period of conscious immersion in a problem looking for a solution, intuition doesn’t do it. And “insight” doesn’t imply any somatic experience like intuition does.

Intuition & Creativity

“Preconscious activity which guides or alerts an individual to highly novel, creative, and unusual ideas and outcomes.

Intuition may be involved in the early stages of the creative process by providing somatic signals for or against a course of action.” (6)

They go hand and hand, intuition and creativity. From my experience, the more we cultivate our creative juices, the more we open up for our intuitive voice.

Intuition & Reason

“Should I listen to my intuition or should I listen to my mind?”

This is one of the most common questions I get in my workshops.

Ever since I started studying Buddhist texts (about 2 years ago), I’ve gained a more inclusive approach to life. So I am doing my best to stay away from any “it’s either this or that” situation.

From my experience and study, it’s best to take into consideration both “parties”. Because, as you’ll see in more detail in a future post, in most of the cases your intuition is right.

But, it can happen that you had a traumatic experience with someone, a man with ginger hair let’s say, when you were a child.

And your system, in order to help you prevent this situation from happening again, has created a strong link between “a person with ginger hair” and “danger”.

So every time you’ll meet a person that will resemble to the one in your unconscious date base you will get that sensation in your gut feeling to stay away from them.

In this case, your intuition has been affected by the trauma in the past, and its signals will not be accurate.

So that’s why you still need to use your reasoning side of the brain, at least sometimes 🙂

Wrapping-up

If you’ve skimmed through here then here’s a summary of the main points discussed above:

  • intuition is different from tacit or implicit knowledge in the sense that it uses all the previous experiences that are found on an unconscious level to come up with a quick answer to a specific situation
  • intuition differs from instinct this way: instinct doesn’t need any previous experience to function, it’s a basic program that ensures our survival. They have in common the somatic awareness.
  • insight appears as a result of one immersing in a problem in search of a solution, using their rational brain, whereas intuition doesn’t involve any deliberative rational processing.
  • intuition feeds and leads creativity and vice versa, but they are not the same thing.
  • intuition is way faster than reasoning and happens on an unconscious level. Its end result comes into our awareness through somatic signals and emotions of which we make sense using our reason.

In conclusion, in order to gain intuitive mastery, it’s good to know about your other gifts that complement and enhance your intuition, and use them wisely.

This way you can balance and correct it when it gives you inaccurate info because it  has been affected by a past trauma.

Cooperation and not competition is the key!

All my love, 

Raluca

Resources*:

*as found in (1) British Journal of Psychology, (2008), 99, 1–27

(2)Simon, H. A. (1987). Making management decisions: The role of intuition and emotion. Academy of Management Executive, 12, 57–64.

(3) Dienes, Z., & Berry, D. (1997). Implicit learning: Below the subjective threshold. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 4, 3–23.

(4) Carlson, N. R. (2004). Physiology of behavior (8th ed.). New York: Pearson Education.

(5) Mayer, R. E. (1996). The search for insight: Grappling with gestalt psychology’s unanswered questions. In R. J. Sternberg & J. E. Davidson (Eds.), The nature of insight (pp.3–32). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. and Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84, 231–259.

(6)  Finke, R. A., Ward, T. B., & Smith, S. M. (1992). Creative cognition: Theory, research and applications. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

What Is Intuition – 3 Practical Definitions According To Psychologists

What is intuition

“Intuition” – It is called in many ways…inner voice, gut feeling, the heart voice…it doesn’t matter how you call  it,  it matters how you use it.

The concept of “intuition” started to become “mainstream” after famous, successful, visionary people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey have told the world that they’ve relied always on their intuition or “gut feeling”. 

But what is this inner guide that we all have and that is related to the heart or gut area of our physical body?

Is there an official, recognised definition of this invisible compass? 

What Is Intuition? 

From quotes of famous people to researchers in the fields of psychology and psychiatry or intuitive healers and authors, it seems everyone has their unique and different approach on intuition.

What I aim to do with this post is to give you the most relevant and  practical definitions of intuition that I found so you can use them in your own quest to become a better intuitive.

“Historically, psychologists have been reluctant to acknowledge intuition as a viable construct, often consigning it to the ‘fringes’ of the field of psychology, within the realms of parapsychology, telepathy and premonition, and equating it to esoteric and ‘New Age’ thinking.” (1)

Most of the times when I talk with people about intuition the most common associations are made with the grey areas of supernatural, unusual, esoteric realms of psychology.

One of my aims is to demystify this concept and its application in our real, ordinary, normal lives.

I am not denying the existence or the importance of these other areas of human psychology and abilities, but they are not the topic I am interested in right now and on this blog.

From this 30 pages study from the British Journal of Psychology (1) I’ve retained the definitions that I found most clear and helpful not only from a theoretical point of view but also from a practical one.

So, in order to make this easier to grasp, I will give you only 3 definitions as I found them in the study, and I will add my comments and reasons for which I’ve chosen them.

Definition#1

Jung (2)  A psychological function that unconsciously yet meaningfully transmits perceptions, explores the unknown, and senses possibilities which may not be readily apparent.

key words: unconsciously, meaningfully, unknown.

Definition#2

Miller and Ireland (3) Intuition can be conceptualised in two distinct ways: as holistic hunch and as automated expertise. Intuition as holistic hunch corresponds to judgment or choice made through a subconscious synthesis of information drawn from diverse experiences. Here, information stored in memory is subconsciously combined in complex ways to produce judgment or choice that feels right. ‘Gut feeling’ is often used to describe the final choice.

Intuition as automated expertise is less mystical, corresponding to recognition of a familiar situation and the straightforward but partially subconscious application of previous learning related to that situation. This form of intuition develops over time as relevant experience is accumulated in a particular domain.

key words: holistic hunch, subconscious, gut feeling, automated expertise, relevant experience.

From this definition I’ve found very helpful the distinction between the two types of intuition: one that is not specific and that is based on the memory of all our life experiences, and one that I would call the “expert” intuition, that develops in time with the experience in a certain domain.

Because we learn best through practice or practical examples, let me give some practical examples to better understand these two types of intuition.

#Intuition as holistic hunch

In this first category you might experience it as leaving a meeting 5 minutes earlier than planned and on the way you bump into an old friend that you wanted to talk to for a long time.

Or you might experience it as something apparently unpleasant, like a traffic jam or the bus that lives the second you get into the station only to realise later that because of that delay you have avoided being caught in an accident on the highway or being caught up in the elevator at home because of power outage.

This last one happened to me this summer.

And I realised that when you stay open and accepting what is even if it looks like something unpleasant or undesirable, and you stay out of judging and complaining, you understand the hidden gift later on.

And this can happen  minutes, hours, days or even years later, as Steve Jobs told us in his famous 2005 commencement speech at Stanford:

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

#Intuition as automated expertise

For this second type of intuition, the one that comes with years of experience in a certain domain, I will tell you the story of an old plumber called to fix a big ship’s heating system.

“On a big cruising ship there is a problem with the heating system. The captain calls in a team of specialists who make tests after tests with the help of modern, computer software tools.

But they can’t figure out what the problem is and how to fix it. Desperate to leave on time for the next cruise, the captain remembers the old engineer who have been taking care of the ship for all his life. and that was now retired. He called him in and asked for his help.

The old man comes in, gets his hammer out and starts pecking and listening to the sounds of the pipes. After 15 minutes of pecking and listening he hits a pipe 3 times in a certain place and the system starts working again. He than leaves and sends them the bill: 10.000 EUR.

Intrigued, the captain asks the old man why is he charging such a high price for only 15 minutes of work. Then the old man send a detailed bill: hammer – 10 EUR; knowing the exact place where to hit with it – 9990 EUR.”

Definition#3

Vaughan (4)  Knowing without being able to explain how we know. Intuitive experiences have four discrete levels of awareness:

1 – physical, which is associated with bodily sensations;

2 – emotional, where intuition enters into consciousness through feelings; that is, a vague sense that one is supposed to do something and instances of immediate liking or disliking with no apparent reason;

3 – mental, which comes into awareness through images or ‘inner vision’. This is an ability to come to accurate conclusions on the basis of insufficient information;

4 – spiritual, which is associated with mystical experience, a holistic understanding of actuality which surpasses rational ways of knowing.

key words: 4 levels, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual

From my experience, this last definition is the most helpful to understand how to actually use intuition in your everyday life.

In my workshops I help the participants to figure out the specific ways in which their intuition talks with them through their bodily sensations, their emotions and their thoughts.

This is the starting point for everyone interested in tuning in with and honing their intuition on a day to day, practical level.

Once you have a clear list of signs on all 3 levels than it’s much easier to develop to the next level, the spiritual one. But, as with any other skill, it takes time and practice.

In a future post, I will give you a practical exercise that you can do to figure out these signs on your own.

Wrapping – Up

In today’s post you’ve received 3 definitions of intuition to help you have a better and clearer understanding of this concept.

In the next one I will walk you through the differences between intuition and insight, revelation, creativity or instinct so you can easily distinguish which is which.

I will leave you with the words of Steve Jobs from the same 2005 speech, that I find truly inspiring:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Let me know in the comments if this post has helped you have a clearer view on intuition and how you have applied it. I would love to hear from you.

With all my love,

Raluca

P.S. As you’ve come to the end of this post exhale deeply and observe your body for a few moments. Enjoy your being-ness! 🙂

Resources

(1) British Journal of Psychology (2008), 99, 1-27, www.bpsjournals.co.uk

(2) Jung, C. G. (1933). Modern man in search of a soul. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, pp. 567–568

(3) Miller, C. C., & Ireland, R. D. (2005). Intuition in strategic decision making: Friend or foe in the fast- paced 21st century. Academy of Management Executive, 19, 19–30, p. 21.

(4) Vaughan, F. E. (1979). Awakening intuition. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, pp. 27-28.

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html