There’s a beautiful quote by Albert Einstein about intuition that I really love:
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
Take a moment to reflect on this.
Read it again if you need to.
Where in your life do you ignore your intuition to prioritize, or lead, from your rational mind?
Are you sensitive to your intuition?… Or have you forgotten your own inner wisdom?
One of the things I love about this quote, is that it’s a scientist talking about intuition. A scientist is usually someone we think of having a very logical and rational mind. Which is true, because that’s needed to do what they do.
But what Einstein is pointing to, is that the rational mind is secondary.
The rational mind has limits. It has to be able to make logical connections and conclusions.
The intuitive mind is limitless. It does not need to make logical connections or conclusions. The intuitive mind simply knows.
The intuitive mind understands the connections between all things. Sometimes this will make logical sense to our rational mind but other times it won’t.
We can often have an intuitive impulse to do something, but then our rational mind takes over and tries to make logical sense of it. In the process we rationalize away our intuition.
I’m not suggesting we should ignore the rational mind, and neither was Einstein. This is more about tapping into a much greater part of ourselves and recognizing where our rational mind fits into the bigger picture.
Intuition Impulse – Example 1
Imagine you’re at home and you have an impulse to go to the supermarket because you need some broccoli. You think to yourself – “Do I really need to go just for broccoli?”
You don’t really feel like going, but there’s a feeling you should go now…
So, you go.
As you walk in the door, you see an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time walking out.
As you start chatting and catching up you feel your heart opening as the close connection you had with your friend all comes flowing back.
We sometimes loose touch with friend for a time (life happens), and we forget how good it feels to connect with them… until we connect with them again.
Your friend tells you they’d been suffering serious back pain for about 6 months. They’d tried almost everything, and nothing worked, until they found a specific therapeutic exercise which worked. After only two weeks doing it, they were having relief.
As you hear them describing their experience something in you opens up even more. You’re very attentive to what they’re saying.
You’ve also been suffering from chronic back pain… So you enthusiastically take note of the therapy.
You find a qualified instructor and start taking some session. Within a couple of weeks your back pain has gone, and even more, you now know how to look after yourself, so it won’t happen again.
A few months later you reflect on the synchronicity of meeting your friend. Had you not followed your impulse of intuition to go to the supermarket when you did, you wouldn’t have run into your friend, connected, and discovered a solution to your back pain.
The wisdom of hindsight allows you to identify the intuitive impulse you had.
Intuition Impulse – Example 2
You’re at home and you have an impulse to go to the supermarket because you need some broccoli. You think to yourself – “Do I really need to go just for broccoli?”
You don’t really feel like going, but there’s a feeling you should go now.
But then you think – “I can make dinner without broccoli… By the time I get to the supermarket, buy it and come back it’ll be too late, and I’ll be very hungry… It’s usually so busy there at this time anyway.”
So, you don’t go.
You pass it off as a well-made decision that just saved you time and effort.
As you start to make your dinner, you do so with that nagging back pain that just isn’t getting better… But you’ve got used to it, so you just accept it.
The problem here is that you’ll never be the wiser. You won’t even give it another thought because you won’t know what would have been. You can’t think – “That was a stupid decision not to go. If I’d gone, I would’ve met my old friend and found a solution to my back pain”.
Your intuition came as an impulse, but your rational mind took care of it. You rationalized it away.
If there’s any wisdom of hindsight to learn from in this second example, it might just be a lingering feeling in your heart that you should have done something.
Following Intuition Vs Reason
When you do follow your intuition, you know you made the right decision because you have the power to reflect. You can see that if you hadn’t done what you did, when you did it, you would have missed the synchronistic event or opportunity.
These are precious moments to reflect on and get a sense of how the intuitive impulse felt and bookmark it so you can recognize it’s flavour next time.
For me, my intuition often has a sense of a flow to follow. An inner knowing, or certain “rightness” that I feel in my heart. Or an alignment to something greater that my rational mind can’t comprehend.
When I have moments of realizing I followed my intuition that was something like the first example there’s a part of me that feels deeply peaceful and connected, while there’s another part that’s in awe of the mysteries of life.
Of course, not all missed intuitive impulses are like the second example. Sometimes you can validate it because you see the missed opportunity.
Perhaps your friends invite you to a movie and your intuition say “Yes”, or you feel that ”rightness” in your heart. But then you think to yourself, “I need to get up early, and this movie ends too late for me.” – So, you politely decline.
Speaking to your friends a couple of days later, they tell you they met Casey at the movies. Casey is that person you’ve secretly had a crush on for the last 3 months, but you never found the right opportunity to talk to.
That “Yes” in your heart was your intuition providing you with an opportunity.
The challenging thing with intuition, is that is comes with a thought. But if you’re not sensitive to the flavour of intuition, it will simply feel like any other thought – which you can easily ignore, dismiss or rationalize it away.
But the more you learn to recognize the flavour of your intuition, the more you can choose to follow it.
Identifying the flavour of intuition
The mind can be a sea of thoughts. But not all thoughts are created equal.
Some thoughts can feel graspy, heavy or tense, while others can feel more expansive, light and open.
When you’re angry, frustrated or depressed, your thoughts feel a certain way. When you’re happy, enthusiastic or curious your thoughts will have a different flavour. I’m sure you’ve experienced a whole range of moods in your life so you should be able to recognize this.
In the same sense, when you think rationally it feels a particular way, while intuitive thoughts will also have a flavour of their own.
Start paying closer attention to the flavour of your thoughts.
Sometimes they’ll make logical sense, other times they won’t.
Notice how it feels when you try to make logical sense of something.
Not every thought is an intuition, but you can start noticing the difference in how they feel.
If you want to learn to trust your intuition, at some point you’ll have to follow your intuitive impulses.
Does this mean that sometimes you’ll follow a thought that’s just a thought?
Yes… But that will also be an opportunity to refine your sensitivity to the flavour of your intuition. Don’t judge yourself for it. Have fun!
Most importantly, remember, it’s not so much the thought itself (meaning the words), it’s how it feels. The flavour of it.
Why is this important?
Intuition doesn’t come from the same place as regular thoughts or rational thinking – Intuition has a different source.
Intuition comes from a space of stillness and silence, beyond the usual chatter of the mind, and then emerges into our awareness.
This sense of an inner knowing from deep within us gets translated somewhere into words, and then we have a thought that fits the impulse.
In the book, The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho, he writes:
“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.”
Beautiful, isn’t it?
There’s something he capture that really speaks to the heart.
How do you hear the call of your intuition amidst the background of noise pollution of your own mind?
It’s very hard!
The thoughts, emotions, stories and dramas that usually fill your mind, can drown out your intuition.
When you quiet your mind, you get out of your noisy head and into your heart… Your heart knows the flavour and language of intuition.
For me the heart is such an important part of intuition.
When I’m chatting with people and they learn that I teach meditation, at least 60% of them tell me something like; “I should be doing that”, or “I need that.”
They have this knowing inside them that they need it… but it’s not enough. Or it’s drowned out by the noise pollution in their mind.
It’s like their rational mind is waiting to be convinced as to why they should do it.
Does this ever happen to you?
In the context of intuition vs reason, it’s interesting to reflect on all the studies and articles being published on meditation. They’re talking to your rational mind, telling you why you should meditate.
There’s nothing wrong with this. But the words of Einstein – The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant – are a reminder to follow your inner knowing.
If you’ve felt the inner impulse to meditate, don’t just listen to it… Follow it.
Intuition comes from a space of stillness and silence.
In the process of meditation and quietening your mind you’re moving closer to the source of your intuition. You’re building a personal relationship to stillness.
Meditation is great at reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure and helping insomnia, but it goes so much further.
Follow your Heart
Underlying it all, connecting to your intuition is really connecting to your heart and the flow of life.
The expression, Follow your heart, could just as well be Follow your intuition.
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