Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time, called it a sacred gift. Steve Jobs, the late iconic inventor and the man behind Apple, rated it as a higher form of intelligence than intellect. Oprah Winfrey the immensely successful talk show host believes listening to it is crucial for lasting success.
All of them were referring to intuition, our sixth sense, which has the magical ability to know things without reasoning.
Commonly referred to as gut feeling, our intuition is especially useful while making decisions. It acts as our very own inner guidance system by pointing us towards the path of higher fulfilment and growth and steers us away from undesirable situations.
You may have heard in interviews of how highly successful actors and business leaders often credit listening to their intuition while choosing their scripts or making important decisions.
However, it is not a voice many of us heed to because as a society, we have been trained to rely solely on logic and analytical reasoning while making our decisions.
As Albert Einstein put it, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
The inner guidance of intuition comes with no logical explanation which can make us hesitant to trust and act on the guidance we receive.
How to listen to your intution?
When our intuition is nudging us toward something, we experience a feeling of openness, expansiveness, joy, excitement or a pleasant feeling within our gut or heart.
On the other hand, when it’s nudging us away from something our gut clenches and we may get a sinking feeling in our stomach or experience an unpleasant sensation in our gut.
Steve Jobs remarked in his Stanford commencement address, “you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” This is especially true in the case of intuition and I’d like to share with you a small story from my life to illustrate this point.
Ever since I came to know about Rishikesh, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas, I was fascinated by the place.
At the time, I had begun diving deeper into meditation and spirituality, and Rishikesh had been home to mystics and spiritual masters for centuries. Moreover In the late 60s, one of my favourite bands, The Beatles had stayed in Rishikesh to learn transcendental meditation and wrote many of their songs from the White Album during their time there.
I felt a strong attraction to the place, and I hoped that perhaps I’d go there with my friends someday.
Fast forward to a year and a half later, I read two completely different books (Apprenticed To a Himalayan Master & Eat, Pray, Love) which intensified my desire to go there.
One was the extraordinary tale of a yogi’s time spent learning and travelling with his Guru in Northern India, especially Rishikesh which was described in vivid detail. The latter, was the story of the author’s one year solo trip, which included 4 months each in Italy, India and Indonesia.
Soon after it hit me like a ton of bricks that the reasons I wanted to go to Rishikesh were unique to me and I wouldn’t be able to explore it to my satisfaction if I was with a group. And for the first time in my life I was quietly imagining and considering the possibility of travelling solo.
While my intuition was nudging me towards going by stirring up feelings of intense excitement within my gut, my logical and rational mind had other ideas wondering how awkward it would be to travel all alone by myself in a place where I didn’t know a soul.
Thankfully I didn’t let my fears and doubts talk me out of it. And to my surprise, the trip turned out to be far more fulfilling and satisfying than I could have imagined. Though it had some confusing and uncomfortable moments, I couldn’t recall a week in my life when I had felt more alive.
If it wasn’t for that trip, I wouldn’t have taken a three-month solo trip a couple of years later, which turned out to be a profoundly positive experience and nothing short of life-changing.
Of course, at the moment of making up my mind to leap into the unknown territory of solo travelling, it would have been impossible for my logical mind to connect the dots and realise the positive impact it would have on my life later on.
Is it intuition or merely a feeling?
Sometimes, our own thoughts of worry and fears could manifest as feelings which we could falsely mistake for our intuition. Therefore it is important to be able to discern the difference between our intuition and fears.
Quietening our mind and keenly listening to what our feelings are communicating to us before we make decisions can help us develop a better sense of this.
When it comes to differentiating between whether it is your mind or your intuition, multiple Oscar winning Hollywood Director, Steven Spielberg puts it this way,
“I want to be clear that your intuition is different to your conscience…your conscience shouts ‘Here’s what you should do’ while your intuition whispers ‘Here’s what you could do’”
Are you listening and acting on your intuitive nudges, or have you been ignoring or suppressing them? Are you allowing the fears of your rational mind talk you out of the wisdom of your intuition?
I’d encourage you to take a deeper look at your life and examine if your sixth sense has been sending you any messages to nudge you towards or away from something.
While our intellect only knows about the past and the present, our intuition somehow has the magical ability to glimpse into the future and know what’s right for us.
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