Have you ever had a gut feeling about something or someone, and you weren't even sure where that feeling came from? Also called intuition, we may not know from where this “felt” insight is acquired, but we can all look back at some point in our lives when our gut instinct about something turned out to be spot-on.
A strong intuitive sense can make us more effective and decisive when it matters most. Einstein himself credited intuition for inspiring him to invest in his most groundbreaking discoveries. He “felt” he was right about a hunch he had, more than he intellectually “knew” he was right.
Arianna Huffington stressed the importance of intuition in her book THRIVE. “Our intuition is always there…always trying to steer us the right way. But can we hear it? Are we living a life that keeps the pathway to our intuition unblocked? Feeding and nurturing our intuition…is one key way to thrive, at work and in life.”
Even Steve Jobs, not someone you would categorize as overly “touchy-feely” is quoted in his biography as saying that “Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.”
Here are a few simple suggestions to develop your intuition and heighten your ability to tune in to the guidance that is available to you at any time.
Tune in to where you physically feel intuition
If you are very used to approaching life from an analytical angle, you may not feel subtle shifts in your body and how they connect to your emotions. This is why practicing observing your body when you feel a certain way about something is a great first step in turning up the dial on your intuitive powers. But in reality, you are simply listening more intently.
One technique is to stand with feet hip-width apart, hands by your sides, and say out loud “Yes” or “This is good.” Wait a few seconds, and notice what sensations come up in your body. Every person will experience them differently, but you will begin to home in on the physical input you are receiving that elicits “positive vibes.”
Clear your mind and give your body a shake, then settle back into your standing posture. Now do the same as you say “No” or “Stay away” out loud. Take note of what happens in the body when it is retracting away from something.
This practice can be done with visualizing different scenarios that you know have clear positive or negative connotations. For example, imagine sharing a joyful meal with loved ones, then imagine sharing a tense conversation with someone from your past that was a negative influence in your life. Your body will likely have specific reactions to each. It could be feelings of warmth, cold, tingling, tension, and/or expansion. It could be the difference between the urge to hug or the urge to recoil. Pay close attention if any of these sensations crop up when you are faced with a decision in the future.
Practicing meditation, mindfulness, and contemplative prayer will deepen your ability to observe subtle changes in your body, surroundings, and other people. This will naturally improve your ability to sense how intuition feels in your body. But this practice also helps you become more astute at differentiating between irrational anxiety and a genuine intuitive warning. Observing your patterns more closely and impartially will point out those times when your “Oh my gosh, yes!” feelings are connected to addictive behaviors or if they are guiding you toward things that support your highest and greatest good.
Test Run Your Decisions
If you often find yourself paralyzed by major decisions and hemming and hawing indefinitely, try taking one choice for a test run. Before you give your final answer to anyone else, issue an internal proclamation that one choice has been made over the other. Now observe how you feel for the next day or so. Do you feel light and hopeful? Or do you feel gloom and angst? Make a note of anything significant. Now test run the other decision. Notice if different feelings come up.
Ever Heard of Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating has become the gold standard in healthy eating circles, and for good reason. Decoding how certain cravings are linked to either emotional impulses or specific nutritional needs can ease the friction created by categorizing foods as either good or bad.
Another way to view intuitive eating is as a way to consistently exercise your intuitive powers on a daily basis. You can do this with a myriad of things: what you choose to wear, who you call, what you read, what music you listen to. Practicing intuition with little things will help you to unlock yourself from stuck patterns of familiarity and routine and help you strengthen your skill in preparation for larger or more complicated decisions.
You can practice your intuitive skills with a plethora of creative activities. Writing, music, dance, painting, improvisation—the options are almost endless. The objective is the same: let one moment feed into the next and follow each impulse without restriction. Allowing yourself time to consistently exist in a state of flow will imprint the sensation on you. In the future, when you’re presented with opportunities that spark a similar feeling, you will have a clear sense of “This is a good thing.”
Your intuition is an incredible tool of insight that can be applied to all areas of your life. And we can certainly practice in such a way to turn up the dial on our intuition. But don’t underestimate the benefit of learning from moments when we may not have listened to our intuition as well as we might have hoped. It truly is in those moments of “What was I thinking!?” that we can look back and witness the breadcrumb trail of intuitive signals that we may have ignored. By doing so, we continually improve our ability to hear our intuition more clearly in the future.
Article was written by Kristie Santana, a certified life coach and founder of the National Coach Academy. More recently, she was the co-founder of her latest passion project, Life Coach Path, which is an online educational resource devoted to aspiring coaches looking for the latest information on entering the field and getting certified. You can check it out here: https://www.lifecoachpath.com/