When we speak of intuition there appears to be many different interpretations about what the word actually means. Some of us equate it with instinct. Some of us with gut feeling. Some haven’t a clue and others refer to it as something that is intangible asserting that only some people have it let alone use it. The one common thread between all the interpretations is that it is intangible. With this I tend to agree. But let’s look more closely so we can make a distinction between them so we have a clean common idea of what we’re delineating.
The most common intangible is referred to as our gut feeling. It is even accepted as being present by the scientific community but with a wink and a tremendous amount of reservation since it is not “provable.” Probably the most important distinction we can make to refine our understanding of how to use the intangibles is the difference between our gut feeling and our intuition. Even though instinct is something that is much more connected to our physical history and genetics it only gives us the ability to act for the benefit of our safety and comfort without our recognition of its presence making mediation by the mind unnecessary. The fear response to danger is a good example showing how our instinctual or automatic reaction to the presence of danger leads us to fight or flight before the involvement of our rationalizing mind telling us what is needed.
The biggest difference between gut feeling and intuition is that the gut feeling only supplies the urge toward some sort of action or inaction while intuition may contain the same urge but presents as a “full picture” of its potential, if not actual, completion in the future.
Our gut feeling is a nebulous and generally undefined area where as the intuition can supply us with a crystal clear flash of where our actions might lead us. With intuition, we essentially, receive a “photograph” of the finished product but also with feeling.
The dynamics of intuition operate much like a dream in that it is free of the constructs of time and therefore often difficult to define in linear terms. We can see the effects of the linear mind’s attempts to delineate a dream by its inability to create a linear thread out of events perceived in a multidimensional format. It’s much like trying to describe a globe on flat paper. The paper does not provide a dimension of depth for its fullest description.
To more fully describe the nature and dynamics of intuition it would be helpful to describe the process of dreaming which essentially yields the same results but without the conscious mind to interfere…at least until we wake up and attempt to apply it.
When we fall asleep the body is no longer subject to the sequencing applied by the mind. The mental tension that holds and sorts with it is now absent and the body may regenerate itself through returning to a state of bodily and “mindless” balance. The body has a natural ability to reestablish stasis when it is free of external factors. The mind is, essentially, an external factor by virtue of its ability to use separation of characteristics in the physical world as its organizational tool for comparison leading to forming judgments through comparison and their ultimate commitment to memory creating a byproduct of triggerable emotion. Feeling and emotion are interrelated but there is an important difference between them which is much too long to cover here.
In sleep, the intuitive landscape is re-established (it was within us before we were born as was feeling). The influence of the mind has been “terminated” through the collapse of time. We are aware of the separation of things which allows us to define them but we are now in a sea of feeling where everything happens at once and everything is interconnected. This is the domain of intuition. Here, everything “occurs” in a flash, instantaneously, at once, with no beginning or end. It simply exists or it doesn’t. There is no before or after. For intuition, there is only now. What we perceive flashes in and out; exists then it doesn’t…or never did. There is no past (memory). There is no future (intention). There is only “I am” or “I am not.” When we change environments in our dream the refocusing of our awareness makes it occur “instantaneously” to our perception. Suddenly, we are just “there.” Are you finally starting to comprehend the fleeting quality and evasiveness of feeling this way? There is no separation of the feeler and the experience. In intuition, they are one. When the mind is included, they are not.
Now, with everything happening in the same instant, how do you describe what you perceive? Beethoven wrote that he received his symphonies in a flash and then spent years trying to put them to paper. When an idea comes to us how does it arrive? In a long process sojourning through rationalizations or in a flash? In intuition we receive the potential realities for our lives in “living snapshots” of potential experience, like his symphonies, in full color and dimension and we then struggle to guide our lives to the suggested intuitive “destination.”
When we begin questioning ourselves about our life path, the mind is always involved by virtue of asking the question. The hard part comes in our desiring and expectation of receiving a tangible answer. Because the mind is so structured and time constricted, we expect to receive the answer in real time or in a way that’s easily rationalized through the mind’s ability to separate out the components of the idea. In constructing that expectation we create a barrier to our ability to receive the answer in an intuitive format. That is, we lose the ability to free ourselves from the mind and open to the fullness in receiving our answer in more than one temporal dimension. In other words, we get in our own way through using the mind. Intuition has no relevance or connection to expectation…expectation is a primary characteristic of the mind. This is why, when we meditate, it’s easier to receive intangible information because the effects of the body have been intentionally “switched off.” When this occurs, the senses and the expectations of the mind are also “switched off.” The “disconnected” mind now becomes easily viewed as a stream of thoughts passing at a distance tempting us to re-involve ourselves with their daily endeavors. If we succumb, the mind regains control of our awareness. If we maintain the disconnection, deeper avenues of awareness become available to us through intuition. Hence, the door is open to having an intuitive or spiritual experience.
The next step, invariably, involves our ability to make the decision that best aligns with our intuition. This is where many people get lost. It’s easy to have a flash of intuition, a little bit harder to recognize it but even harder to implement it. How would we know if it is the right decision to align us with the possible future we’ve seen in the flash? The process is simple but requires an attentive observation of our feelings. This can be best explained through an example.
In keeping it simple, let’s use our intuitive flash of our buying a new automobile. Of course when this occurs, the mind will immediately jump in and begin rationalizing all the pros and cons related to its possibilities. This is where most people get stuck. We’ve all been trained since childhood to give the mind dominance over any and all important decisions that we are faced with. The key for making a decision in alignment with our heart’s best interest lies with our feelings not our mind. The mind is only a tool and available to work out the details of our decisions. Our heart must be the driving force if we are to align ourselves with our inner path and the heart only speaks through feelings. So, what to do? The process is easy.
First, make the decision to purchase the new automobile. Also, begin aligning your finances with making whatever payments may be involved. Start the process with your insurance company to cover it. Get the paper work necessary to exchange the registration. In short, start setting up all the steps in alignment with making your choice manifest itself. Having done all this, now stop. Ask yourself how you feel. Are you excited? Panicked? At ease? Looking beyond the task? Does it worry you? Does it lead you toward thinking of all the possibilities your life might now offer? The feeling it evokes now involves your gut feeling. Remember that nebulous undifferentiated feeling of fight or flight? Now, with your feelings having been observed change your decision. Decide not to buy the automobile. Begin shutting down all the things you put into motion to make that happen. NOW how do you feel? Relief? Disappointment? Sadness? Happiness? Now ask yourself which set of feelings felt better? The one set that feels better is the set that’s aligned with your heart. The more you do this with your important decisions, the easier and faster this process will progress and the more Self-Trust and confidence you will develop in your ability to know what it is that you need to do, or not do, to follow and remain on your life’s path.
The fact that our culture relies so heavily on its mental capacity for its important decisions is testimony to the fact that we have strayed far from having the use of our feelings as an indicator and validation for knowing what is right for us. Our paths are not always aligned with what our society wants and needs for its security and consistency. Since our feelings arise within us involuntarily, they are uncontrollable and often discouraged and denied. Their participation in our lives terrifies our minds which, in deferring to the heart for our decisions, reduces our mind’s ability to remain in charge of our fate. There must develop a balance between our hearts and minds if we are to immerse ourselves most fully in the experiences we have chosen to feel and learn in this lifetime. The heart tells us what to do. The mind tells us how to do it. Is it really any wonder that when we use our minds to tell us what to do that we don’t understand why we don’t feel good about how we’re doing it?