Author: Shakti Gawain, Book: Developing Intuition, Practical Guidance for Daily Life
- “The more I follow my intuition, the better I am able to care for myself. And the more things just fall into place.”
- “Following our intuition puts us in the flow – a very live, productive, and desirable state“
- “All these things began to open me to the non-linear, non-rational aspect of my nature“
- “The practice of listening to and following my inner guidance… became a very important part of my life. I’ve discovered that listening to and using your intuition on a daily basis is one of the most important keys to self development.“
Chapter 1: What is intuition?
“There is a universal intelligent life force that exists within every one and every thing. It resides within each one of us as a deep wisdom or an inner knowing. We can access this wonderful system of knowledge and wisdom through our intuition – an inner sense which tells us what feels right and true for us at any given moment.”
In fact, our intuition is a very practical, down-to-earth tool that is always available to help us deal with the decisions, problems, and challenges of our daily lives.
Although the message may come through a bit at a time, if we learn to follow this information, step-by-step, the necessary course of action will be revealed. As we learn to rely on this guidance, life takes on a flowing, effortless quality. Our life, feelings, and actions interweave harmoniously with those of others around us.
Our intuition needs to be the guiding force in our lives… Many of us have programmed our intellect to doubt our intuition. When an intuitive feeling arises, our rational minds immediately say, “I don’t think that will work” or “What a foolish idea.” And the intuition is disregarded. We must train our intellect to respect, listen to, and express the intuitive voice.
Instinct vs. Intuition:
- Animals live by their instinct — genetically programmed part of them, naturally directs them toward survival. Instinctual behavior is usually similar in all members of a given species. Includes aggression and sexuality. As humans, we have suppressed a lot of these (i.e. disowned them).
- Humans also have intuition, which gives us access to a broader array of information which helps us not only in survival but in personal growth, development, and higher purpose. Intuition is fine-tuned to our individual needs in any given moment.
- Need to develop healthy balance of intellect, instinct, and intuition.
An exercise to help you recall an intuitive feeling
- Get in a comfortable position, close your eyes
- Take a few slow, deep breaths
- See if you can remember a time you had a strong hunch, gut feeling, or feeling of knowingness about something
- How did it come to you?
- How did it feel?
- Did you follow the feeling?
- What happened as a result of following it or not following it?
- Write a little bit about this experience in your journal or notebook.
Chapter 2: Becoming Aware
All of us have intuitive feelings all the time. Many of us automatically ignore, discount, or reject those feelings. This often happens unconsciously. We don’t even realize that some deeper part of us may be trying to get our attention. You might get an instant, deep feeling in response to something — “this feels right to me!” Immediately after that, you might think, “Whoa, that doesn’t make sense.” Or “That would never work.” Or “I can’t do that.” Or “What would my family think?” Or “I don’t know anything about that, I might make a fool out of myself.”
Pay attention to what’s going on inside of you. So that you can become aware of these inner dialogues and catch them as they are happening or shortly thereafter. As you become more aware of your inner process, you will become aware of the intuitive feelings as they pop up and begin to deal with them more consciously. Next up: how to interpret intuitive feelings, how to act on them.
Here are (some) different ways that people experience intuitive feelings
- When phone rings, knowing who is calling
- Thinking about someone, phone rings, and it’s the person you were thinking of
- Sensing something coming in the mail
- Sensing that something important is coming
- Participating in sports, while at work, at school
- Knew you were going to hit home run or sink putt and did
- Scientists use hunches to figure out which line of inquiry to pursue
- Strong and immediate desire to leave party or do X …
Very successful people follow intuition; intuitive guidance can come through dreams. When we follow intuition, we don’t know what doing or why … but there are usually some surprising results.
Awareness exercise: try every night for a week or so
- Sit in quiet place where won’t be disturbed
- Take a few slow deep breaths
- Allow body and mind to relax
- Think back to when first woke up this morning: how were you feeling? what were you thinking about? what did you do after you woke up
- Slowly review day, anything significant happen? how felt? Just review it in a detached way… as if watching a movie of your day
- Try to notice any time during day when might have had an intuitive feeling about something… impulse, hunch, rightness, wrongness, knowing something, a lot of energy / enthusiasm / juice for a possible action or conversely a sense of deadness about a possible action.
- How did you handle that feeling? Pay attention or ignore? How did you feel afterward?
- Let it all go; relax. This is an experiment in awareness — in increasing consciousness of intuition. Don’t judge or criticize self if not as advanced as you’d like to be. Instead, appreciate yourself for your desire to develop and use this gift more.
In general, when we follow an intuitive feeling, things tend to work out well. We feel energized and enlivened and there is a sense of being in the flow of life. When we don’t follow our intuition, we often feel somewhat depleted, depressed, or numb. And there may be a sense of being blocked, having to *push* to make things happen, or being out of the flow. (Later: will work to distinguish intuition from other feelings.)
Chapter 3: Trusting Yourself
We are taught from a young age…
- Try to accommodate those around us
- Try to follow certain rules of behavior
- Suppress spontaneous impulses
- Do what is expected of us
- Look to outside authorities (family, religion, school, community values and mores, spouses, employers, doctors, lawyers, other experts, …) for guidance or direction, rather than looking inside ourselves INSTEAD of paying attention to own feelings and intuitions
We can follow our gut feelings about who to go to for advice or support. If we were drawn to them, there is likely to be value for us. Then we can ponder what they say, paying attention to what’s right for us. Open to learning and receiving guidance from others … without giving our power or authority away.
Many of us have the pattern of being overly concerned about pleasing or caretaking of our families. Or being overly concerned with trying to live up to their expectations of us. We may be reluctant to even tune into our intuitive feelings if we sense that following them might cause us to do things which might upset our friends or families. Things work out better when everyone can express their needs and feelings, including their intuitive feelings.
Can you remember a time when you had an intuitive feeling about something but disregarded it and followed another person’s advice. How did you feel about it afterwards? How did things work out? Write a bit about this experience.
Chapter 4: Accessing Intuition
Many of us are aware of spontaneously having intuitive flashes from time to time. Our intuitive wisdom is always there inside of us. And it is always trying to come through to guide us. Most of us just don’t know how to access it at will on a regular basis.
Here is a basic meditation for getting in touch with your intuitive guidance
- Find a quiet peaceful place where you will be undisturbed for a few mins
- Sit or lie down in comfortable position
- Close your eyes
- Take a deep breath. As you exhale slowly, relax your body
- Take another deep breath. As you exhale, relax your body a little bit more.
- Take another deep breath. As you exhale, try to relax your body as much as possible.
- If any place in your body feels tight or tense, gently breath into that area and allow it to release and relax.
- Now take another deep breath. As you exhale, relax your mind. Let your thoughts just drift away.
- As each new thought comes into your mind, let it go.
- Take another deep breath. As you exhale, imagine that you can move your awareness out of your mind, out of your head, and drop it into your body.
- Let it rest in the solar plexus of your body
- Take another deep breath. As you exhale, let your awareness move into a very quiet, deep place within.
- Keep repeating this until you come to rest in the deepest, quietest place you can find.
- Let yourself rest in this quiet place inside.
- In this quiet place inside, you naturally have access to your intuitive inner guidance.
- A wise part of you that lives within this deep place within you. It knows exactly what you need at every moment.
- Ask yourself, What do I most need to remember or be aware of right now?
- Or you could ask: What direction do I need to go right now? Show me my next step. How do I need to take care of myself? Should I take a job I’ve been offered.
- After you ask this question, just rest quietly and be open to what might come.
- If a thought, feeling, or image comes to you in response, notice it.
- Just take whatever comes and be with it for a little while. It’s not necessary to understand it. Just be with it in a receptive way.
- Don’t try to make anything happen. Trying gets in the way of the process. Trust your own experience.
- When you feel complete with the process for now, begin to notice your breath again. Become aware of how your body feels. Notice your surroundings.
- If you wish you can write down whatever you experienced or what message you received. Otherwise, contemplate your experience a bit.
Practice following any intuitive impulses you have and notice how they work out.
Don’t try to make anything amazing happen. Just listen a little more deeply than usual for your own sense of truth. Try not to get caught up in needing to have an immediate answer. You may be in-process. Inner guidance usually just lets us know what we need to do in the moment. Sometimes it’s telling us just to wait, be patient, hang in there. When clarity is meant to come, it will.
- If you feel really blocked for a long period of time, you probably need to do some emotional healing work. Find a good therapist or support group and begin learning to experience and express your emotions.
You can learn to “check in” with your intuition at regular points in the day. Develop the habit to pause several times during the day to tune into what your intuition may be telling you. Go into the bathroom or Take a moment to sit or Walk outdoors.
- Take a deep breath, exhaling slowly.
- Notice what’s on your mind, what you have been thinking about
- Notice how your body is feeling right now
- How are you feeling emotionally?
- Do you feel like you are more or less following the flow of your energy? Or do you feel stressed, conflicted, or out of sorts?
- Take another deep breath, exhale slowly.
- Let your awareness move into a deep place inside.
- Is there anything you need to pay attention to that would help you feel more connected to yourself?
- Any gut feeling you need to be aware of?
- Enjoy a moment of rest before you carry on.
Just the fact that you are taking a moment to tune into yourself will be deeply healing. Will make you more present and hence more likely to be tuned into our feelings. You will begin to develop and deepen a relationship to your intuitive self. And intuition will come to you more frequently, more clearly, more visibly, more easily.
Put little reminders where you are likely to see them … to remind yourself to do this exercise at regular times during the day. Something which conveys to you the feeling of connecting to your intuition. Maybe move the reminders around periodically so that they stay fresh and visible. You can apply the “intuitive check in” at many different instances. Develop habit of checking intuitive messages frequently.
Chapter 5: Acting on Intuition
What makes it difficult to follow intuition:
- We are only instructed on what to do in the moment. We can’t see how/why/what this path leads to and why we are meant to take it.
- Fear of acting on our gut;
- Conflicting feelings or voices on the matter;
- Feeling of moving into the unknown
- Challenge: to infer that our intuition is telling us NOT to do something. We may try to make ourselves do it but it may not work. We often think there’s something wrong for us.
- Also disconcerting: the energy doesn’t seem to be moving in any direction at all. Maybe you aren’t meant to be DOING anything right this minute…
As we keep following our inner guidance, a path evolves. How to build trust in intuition?
- Start by taking small steps – what movie to see, what restaurant to go to, whom to call, what to do that night
- When faced with simple choice or decision, briefly quiet your mind and go inside.
- Instead of making your decision based on logical choice or reason, what you think is correct, or what others might feel, try to go by what your intuitive feeling tells you.
- Get in the habit of checking your intuition and developing trust in yourself.
- Make a practice too of noticing how you feel after following your intuition.
- Do this in the spirit of adventure!
- Notice also how things work out…
If you think you are following your intuition and yet things don’t work out well (or you don’t find much value),
- You may be misinterpreting your inner guidance
- You may be following a different feeling or voice that is actually not intuition
- You may be following your intuition but it’s a more complex process — and you just haven’t gotten the full big picture yet
Exercise: List every reason you can think of about why you are afraid or doubtful about acting on your intuition. (Keep updating as you think of others.)
Exercise: For some pre-defined period of time, allow yourself to pretend that you are absolutely trustworthy in every intuitive inclination you feel and ACT that way. Let go of your doubts.
Chapter 6: Interpreting Intuitive Messages
It’s not always easy to understand what your intuition is saying … or what direction it’s trying to move you. Your true intuition is always correct but you may not always know how to interpret it correctly. Ways in which you may experience your intuition:
- A feeling of rightness or wrongness
- A deep gut feeling
- An inner knowing
- Energy — we sense that our life energy is trying to move us in a certain direction or BLOCK us from a certain direction
- Generally it’s a very normal and natural feeling, as in: “I want to do this” or “I don’t want to do that”
Almost always a feeling of uncertainty or risk involved in following intuition. Rarely feels like “a sure thing.” Relax, take experimental approach, pay attention to what works or doesn’t work. Take in the feedback that life gives you and learn from it.
When following intuition, you feel like you’re in the flow of life. Things open up smoothly and easily. You feel like you’re in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. You may experience synchronicity with people and events. Things might happen miraculously. May get profound sense of Higher Power acting in the situation. When life is following smoothly like this, we are getting great feedback that we are following our intuition properly. Sometimes we find ourselves on a much bumpier road. Our intuition often leads us down a very different path than we expected. Our intuition may advise us to take a different path than rational logic would suggest. Or we might end up at a different place than we thought we were headed.
Our intuition might lead us right into the challenge that we hope to avoid. Something difficult or seemingly disastrous brings a wonderful result. Sometimes may need to let go of something we are very attached to. Or we may feel that our lives are falling apart. If you’re not sure, you can ask your intuition for clarity… Request to be blocked if moving in wrong direction or for a sign.
The surest and most reliable way to know whether you are following your intuition is that when you do so, you feel more alive. When you are listening to your intuition and acting on them, you keep your channel open so that the life force can keep flowing. You literally have more energy moving through you. Living in the present moment. When you don’t follow your intuition, you may find that you feel a certain heaviness, lack of interest, deadness. This is b/c the life force is trying to come through and move you in a certain way but it is being blocked. When we aren’t following our life energy, life feels like a struggle.
So in order to suss out your intuitive feelings on something, test whether you feel a certain aliveness more with one of the options. I.e. what is your natural energy for the thing? If you don’t act on an intuitive feeling, you might be left with a feeling of depression or numbness, loss of energy or power.
- What blocks intuition? Fear or self doubt
If we pay attention to what enlivens us, it sometimes comes from expressing a different part of ourselves than we are used to expressing.
Quite often when people begin paying attention to inner guidance — may not get any message at all. Surrender into a time of being. Let go of all of the need-to-be-doing. After relaxing, our energy will be replenished and moved into new direction. Our energy moves and rests. We must rest.
Energy Awareness Exercise: Make a practice of noticing how you feel when you follow your inner guidance and when you don’t.
Chapter 7: Distinguishing Intuition from Other Voices
How do I distinguish my intuition from all the other thoughts and feelings going on inside me? She learned from Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone.
- We each have many different selves.
- Each one has its own distinct energy and voice.
- Through the voice dialogue process, we can learn to dialogue with these inner voices and learn why they are there, how they feel, and what they have to offer us.
- This can bring us awareness about what is really going on inside of us.
- (This also reminds me of Caroline Myss’s Sacred Contracts book which is all about the multiple archetypes we each contain/embody.)
We are called to DEVELOP and EXPRESS as many of these different ARCHETYPAL personalities as possible. If you are overly identified with action and achievement, you need to develop the opposite polarity (relaxation and play). In so doing, you will actually be enhancing your action and achievement strengths.
We have primary selves. There are certain other selves that we are afraid of, ashamed of, or try to keep hidden. These are our disowned or shadow selves. According to Dr. Gawain, these are often the opposites of our primary selves. Our primary selves make most of our decisions and run our lives. Their objective is to keep us safe and to make us as successful as possible.
How do we become conscious of the many selves within us and keep them balanced in our lives?
- Begin to recognize and become aware of our primary selves.Don’t want to be totally identified with these selves. Want to see them as ENERGIES WITHIN US rather than WHO WE ARE.
- What qualities are you most identified with?
- Can you identify the personalities that make most of your decisions and run your life?
- You may have primary self: CARETAKER. You may find yourself automatically doing this without making a conscious decision. Once you become CONSCIOUS of this, you can have more CHOICE in the matter.
- This is called developing “Aware Ego”… disowned selves come forth. Our lives work better as we integrate the energy of previously disowned selves.
- As you begin to become aware of the different energies operating within you, you can learn to distinguish them from intuition.
- If you are feeling that you SHOULD take some particular action, that is probably your inner rule maker or perfectionist, not your intuition
- If you are feeing SELF CRITICAL or JUDGMENTAL of OTHERS, that is your inner critic or judge — definitely not your intuition.
- Intuition NEVER guides us with an authoritarian or critical edge. It doesn’t impose rules. It never feels heavy handed or burdensome. It never makes us feel guilty. It’s not self indulgent or rebellious.
- Intuitive guidance brings a feeling of enlightenment, even release. It feels good in our heart and soul. It feels like exactly the right step to take in the moment.
It’s very important to distinguish between our FALSE CRAVINGS and ADDICTIONS vs. our true intuitive impulses. We are lured by false cravings when we are not conscious of our true needs and desires OR when we do not know how to fulfill them. We must heal our addictive patterns — because they keep us from being aware of what we truly want and need. Workaholism, obsession with relationship, … Even meditation. Anything we do habitually to avoid the pain.
- Addiction: anything we unconsciously do to attempt to fill the emptiness inside
- This emptiness can only be filled by the things we really need. In order to FILL those needs, we must FEEL them.
Our intuitive feelings often come to us from our bodies.
Chapter 8: Intuition and Emotions
- “Feeling” == our intuitive promptings
- “Feeling” == our emotions
- Vulnerable sensitive child within us. Carries our emotional needs.
- Playful child within us.
- Angry self that feels afraid.
Primary self: one we identify with and show to the world.
The more we allow ourselves to be in touch with our emotional feelings, the easier it is to be in touch with our intuitive feelings. When we are in the flow emotionally, our intuition comes through more easily. Once we are aware of our emotional feelings, it’s not too difficult to distinguish them from our intuitive feelings. Each emotion has a particular energy; and our intuition has a unique energetic vibration as well. We may feel these differently in our bodies. Our emotions and intuition often go hand in hand.
If we have disowned our emotions, how do we do our emotional healing work? Need someone supportive that we can talk to about our feelings. If you sense that you have some blocked emotion, try working with a good therapist.
Exercise: To get in touch with your emotions. When you wake up in the morning, put your attention in the middle of your body. Ask yourself, “How are you feeling emotionally right now?” Try to distinguish your FEELINGS from the THOUGHTS you are having in your head. Are you feeling peaceful, excited, anxious, sad, angry, joyful, frustrated, guilty, loving, lonely, fulfilled, serious, playful, …? If there seems to be an anxious or upset feeling inside of you, go into that feeling and give it a voice. Ask it to talk to you and tell you what it’s feeling. Make an effort to hear it and listen to its point of view. Be sympathetic, loving, and supportive. Ask what you can do to take care of yourself at this time. Repeat this exercise before you go to bed at night and any other time it feels appropriate.
Chapter 9: Intuition and the Body
One way to get more in touch with your intuition is to get more in touch with your body. The more you feel your body and listen to the signals it is giving you, the more it helps you get in touch with your intuition. Meditation helps, especially if you can drop your awareness from your head to your heart. Out of the intellect and into your intuitive self. Intuition can be experienced in the body: in your gut, heart, hands, goosebumps, some may feel being physically pulled in some direction, like a magnet.
- When meditate on various areas of your life (work, spouse, children, home, community, friends, parents, …), do you experience anxiety at any point? If so, dive deeper into that area in order to pinpoint the exact cause of the stress. It might be Work –> Project X –> I’m haunted by sense that X is doomed to failure…
You might sense that you are “on the right track” when you feel excitement in your body (this is not the same thing as ego-driven gratification, which feels different). Also, feel peaceful, content, and calm.
Exercise: Over a period of at least a week, make a note in your journal of every time you feel an intuitive impulse or hunch through your body. Also keep a record of the times when your intuitive feelings were validated. The more you practice recognizing this sort of experience in your body, the easier it will be to recognize your intuition. Your ability to use your intuition on a daily basis will increase.
Body-talk exercise: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, take a deep breath, let yourself sink into the floor or chair; feel supported by the earth below you. Gradually allow your mind to grow quiet. Take another deep and allow your body to feel held and protected — like it is surrounded by light and warmth. Take another deep breath and ask your body, “What would you like to tell me at this time?” If you are troubled by illness or aches or pains, ask your body what the illness or aches are trying to tell you. Be patient and breath deeply. As you inhale, allow your body to feel the nurturing healing properties of the oxygen you take in. When you exhale, release any anxiety. Bring yourself to a deeper place within your body. Notice any feelings, images, or sensations you receive. Now, ask your body, “How can I relieve these concerns?” Notice any feelings, sensations, and images. Now take a deep breath and thank your body for the information it has given you. When you feel comfortable and ready, open your eyes and make some notes in your journal about any info you received. Make sure to note how your body communicated to you.
Chapter 10: Intuition and Work
Intuition can be a great aid in your work. Can help you process info, make better decisions, take care of yourself, and interact with people more successfully. Following your intuitive guidance supports your creativity. Great source for discovering and creating work that will satisfy you. Can use intuition to guide yourself to your right purpose. May take time, though. Good to explore the things that really turn you on…
Here are some exercises for discovering your passion:
- Follow any impulses you have in the direction of your true work, play, creative desires… even if it seems totally unrealistic. Follow the impulse anyway in the spirit of opennese and adventure.
- List any fantasies you’ve had around work, career, or creativity. Beside that list, make another list of the ACTION STEPS you plan to take to explore these fantasies.
- Write an ideal scene — picture of your ideal career. Write it in the present tense as if it were already true. Put in description and details. Put it away someplace.
- Cut out pictures you come across or articles that pertain to your desires. Collect in large envelope — to develop a clearer picture of what you’re looking for. Possibly create a collage out of these. Look at it often, let it inspire you.
Chapter 11: The Art of Following Intuition
It’s an art… requires a certain commitment. Challenged to move to a deeper level of self trust. Allowing intuition to guide us — a new way of life. At times, may feel uncomfortable or frightening — especially if we have been conditioned to follow life in a completely rational manner. Learning to tune into and trust our inner truth is a major shift, which may take some time. And it may be a little difficult or confusing in certain moments. It’s important to be very compassionate to ourselves. We may be very aware of the conflicting voices inside of us. We ought to acknowledge and honor all of our inner voices. The more we practice our intuition, the more faith that we get. Because we see that it actually does work. Our lives are actually getting better and better…
- Intuition likely to push you to take some appropriate risks. Intuition may tell you that there is something within you that is trying to come through. Allow yourselves to fantasize about something you’ve always wanted to do (e.g. start your own business). Follow any impulse you have to move in this direction.
- You may find that your process of making decisions changes. Rather than just trying to figure things out in your head, follow your intuitive process a little and let things unfold.
- If you have a problem to solve or a desire to fulfill, try turning it over to your intuition. Consciously ask your intuition to guide you in this process. Your intuition may draw you to certain activities, which may give you what you were seeking.
Our intuition is always guiding us to our own highest good and to the greatest good of all involved. In the process of learning to trust intuition, some people may go through a period where their life feels like it’s falling apart. These are signs that letting go of old identity. It’s a matter of TRUSTING that there is a deeper perfection in the process. New forms of relationship, creativity, and work will come into being. Obtain emotional support while going through these changes! You may need to seek out people who are interested in personal growth. Learning to follow your intuition can feel a bit like “living on the edge.” Gradually, we become less afraid and more comfortable with uncertainty. We can learn to enjoy “not knowing.” Relieved of false sense of control.
We can learn to move into the unknown with the confidence that we have a guiding force within us that is showing us the way!
Final meditation: repeat as often as you like!
- Relax your body. Take another deep breath and relax your mind.
- Continue to breath slowly and deeply. Let go of all tension and anxiety.
- As you relax, find yourself in a deep quiet place inside. Allow yourself to just rest in that place.
- Imagine that you are following your own energy — feeling it, trusting it, moving with it in every moment of your life.
- You are being completely true to yourself. Speaking and living your truth.
- You feel alive and empowered.
- Imagine that you are expressing your creativity fully and freely. And let yourself… enjoy the experience.